At Goulton Grange Day Nursery Ltd, the children can consider cows their classmates.
Based on a working organic dairy farm in North Yorkshire, Goulton Grange’s 51 children play and learn in converted farm buildings, with access to the farmland and all the animals. Nursery Director Emily Gilliland, runs the setting with Commercial Director (and husband), John Gilliland (aka Gilli), after taking over from her mum, Marian.
“The outdoors is where we focus,” says Gilli, who joined the family business in October 2021, “Even in winter we take the children out. The parents appreciate that we have all the outside space.”
When Gilli began working at Goulton Grange, he had a few ideas for improvements. Not only did he design and build the children a new climbing frame, but he also introduced the setting to Famly, thereby digitalising and streamlining all the old, paper-based processes. Having seen the volume of paperwork being generated, and the time it took up, Gilli knew there had to be a better way.
“As a setting, I think we were quite late to the software side of things,” explains Gilli , “It’s no criticism, but as I was a fresh set of eyes coming in, I could see that Famly did what was best for us.”
I sat down with Gilli to talk about Famly and the difference it’s made to Goulton Grange’s invoicing and payments
It’s not just streamlining and efficiency that inspired Emily and Gilli to digitalise the setting. It was also a concern about the volume of paperwork they were producing.
“We’re based on an organic farm, so our focus is being environmentally friendly,” explains Gilli, “Even just cutting out the printing, not buying all the books, helps us reflect our values and what the nursery is about.”
Not only were the team printing and filing hundreds of sheets of paper, but they also had a book to write in for each child, each day.
“From my point of view, Famly makes it so much easier,” says Gilli, “Now they can record what’s happening at the click of a button. None of our team would ask to go back to writing in a book.”
Instead of leaving the room and going to the office, finding the accident book, writing up what happened by hand, and taking a copy for the parents, the team can complete the whole process on the tablets. The parents get notified and can acknowledge the accident in the app too, so there’s no paper form to be glanced at and stuffed in a backpack at the end of the day.
But what does all the time saved on doing all that paperwork mean for the setting?“The team have more time to focus on the children,” says Gilli, “They can be more attentive. Not that they weren’t before, but we’re paying our staff to look after the children, not to be writing in books all the time. It means we’re doing what we’re good at, doing what we’re here for, doing what we should be, with minimum disruption.”
“We trialled four or five platforms and looked at even more than that, but Famly was the only one that ticked all the boxes.”
John Gilliland, Goulton Grange Day Nursery
Previously, when Emily had been running the setting with her mum, she had to set aside an entire afternoon to do the invoicing.
The process meant going through the diary to tot up a child’s sessions for the month and then producing an individual invoice in Excel. Next, Emily had to print two copies, one for the parents and one for the setting. If, after the invoice was printed, any adjustments had to be made, these were written on by hand. Then, the invoices had to be individually handed out to parents.
It took hours.
“I basically saw everything Emily was doing and said, I’m not doing all that!” laughs Gilli, “We’d be asking, has that parent had their invoice yet? Has it been mislaid? Why haven’t they paid?”
So Emily and Gilli found Famly. Now, they can quickly log into Famly to check any credits due are in place, the children’s holidays are logged, and then send the invoices with one click.
“I can do the invoices in five minutes,” says Gilli, “With the old Excel system it took hours. I know they’re done, I know they’ve been sent, so I can get back on with something that, from a commercial point of view, will be generating more business.”
Another downside of doing everything slowly and manually was that Emily had to take time out of the room to complete the financial and administrative tasks. This meant that it was often done whenever she had a free few hours. Unfortunately, this unscheduled approach meant parents got used to the ad-hoc nature of when invoices were sent and when payments were due.
“Our terms state that payment is due on receipt of the invoice,” explains Gilli, “But now we’re actually able to clamp down on payments.”
Using Famly Pay means parents can pay by Direct Debit, set up directly in the app. Gilli sends out the invoices around the 26th of the month, so parents can be ready for the Direct Debit to be drawn out on the 1st.
“We wanted ease of payments for parents and to improve cashflow for us,” says Gilli, “It’s there on the app when they get the invoice - they can just click the button that says ‘pay’, so it saves a whole load of time. For them, it comes through and gets collected; they don’t have to think about it!”
“The efficiency all around is so much better. For us, having one thing for everything, from us as the directors to the practitioners on the floor, means everything is so much easier and quicker. We’re all using the same platform.”
John Gilliland, Goulton Grange Day Nursery
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.