We have recently launched the results of our most recent Parent/Carer questionnaire. Generally the results are extremely positive, and it has made me stop and reflect about what it is that makes us different.
I suspect nearly everyone who works for Class Of Their Own would be able to talk with some confidence about our view of the stakeholder balance! It is a topic we cover most years at our annual team training day. Why? Because we believe it is one area that gives us a really strong competitive edge. Early on in our business, we realised keeping key stakeholders in balance was key to business growth.
What is a Stakeholder?
We define our key stakeholders as:
- Our Team
Why are Stakeholders Important?
It is crucial that we meet the needs of each of these stakeholders. Put simply, if we do not, then we may not have a business! Let’s look at each stakeholder and why they are important.
Meeting the Needs of Children
Children are the most obvious stakeholder that we have. Our team are passionate about working with children and providing them with the best possible experiences in our breakfast, after school and holiday clubs.
Sam (my sister and co-Director) set up Class Of Their Own in 2001 with the mission of ‘creating environments where children are treated as individuals, where they want to be, where they have fun, feel safe and their needs are met.
Our mission has never changed. In the early days, it was not a clearly articulated mission – we didn’t really know what one was! We now realise, we have always had a mission, and that the only difference is now it is written down!
If we do not provide a high quality service to children, we would do more than fail to deliver our mission. Children would, therefore, stop wanting to attend our clubs which, naturally, would have a negative impact on our overall business.
Meeting the Needs of Parent/Carers
Parents/carers are considered to be key stakeholders because whilst children ‘use’ our services, they are not the ones who book, or possibly more crucially, pay for, it! We aim to make booking and paying for our services as simple as possible and to provide a professional service to parent/carers in our office and club environments.
We believe that by providing a high quality and professional service to parent/carers we reflect the level of care that we provide to children. If we did not do this, parent/carers would stop having faith in our ability to provide a safe and fun environment for their children.
Working with Schools
Schools may be a less obvious stakeholder, but in many ways we are a customer of the school. All school premises are provided to us on a rental basis. We work very hard on our relationships with schools. We respect the school space. Premises are kept clean and tidy, and, we follow school rules. It is crucial that we maintain good and positive relationships with schools to ensure we have a place to continue operating from.
Ofsted, a Surprising Stakeholder?
Ofsted is arguably, the most surprising stakeholder and least traditional stakeholder that we have. We are registered with, and inspected by, Ofsted, and are proud each time they have graded one of our clubs as outstanding. We consider them to be a stakeholder because, if we fail to deliver on Ofsted requirements , they have the power to close a club and it goes (almost!) without saying that we would not want this to happen.
Our Amazing Team…We Couldn’t Do it Without Them!
Our final key stakeholder is our team. Without the passionate, committed team we have in place we could not deliver our mission. Our team make their work fun. Working with children is extremely rewarding, but it is not without its challenges. Our teams work extremely well with each other to create nurturing, child-centred, environments. As a business grows, one of the key challenges is to maintain the culture and integrity of the original vision. Our team does that every day. Without this team, we would not be able to do what we do. They are therefore, a very key stakeholder.
Keeping the Balance
The stakeholder balance is all about meeting the needs of each of these groups, without negatively impacting another stakeholder. For example, many children love to climb, and, if given the opportunity, would climb on school buildings, up fences and railings and all sorts of other places that may not have been designed for clambering children.
Many of our team would embrace the learning and development associated with risky play. Yet, most schools and many parent/carers would not support this view. This leaves us with the conundrum of how to balance mixed views to provide a balanced approach to all stakeholders.
In this scenario, we would aim to find a place for children to climb that presented an element of risk and challenge, which was safe enough to overcome school and parental fears and did not conflict with school values.It’s not all about risk, the stakeholder balance covers so many areas of our business.
Real Life Applications
Finances: we would love to charge lower fees, but also to pay our team more – the balance is finding the right level of parental fees versus the wages we pay our team. Snack: we are required to promote healthy eating, but would love to provide the children with a treat – the balance is finding a way to make healthy eating fun and seeking ways to incorporate the occasional treat. The stakeholder balance impacts nearly everything we do!
It makes us…us!
It could be considered that the stakeholder balance is a series of compromises. We know it is not a perfect solution; it is, however, one that has worked for us over the years. We hope you agree it is one of things that make us unique!