Whiz Kidz Preschool opens new location | Business
After watching her waiting list soar to nearly 50 families, creating a nearly year-long backlog, Whiz Kidz Preschool Founder and CEO Martha Picciao decided that her best option for welcoming families seeking of a child care center for children 5 and under was to open a second facility in Scottsdale.
The new facility has a scheduled opening date of June 6 and will open in the former 8,500 square foot building that housed Sunrise Preschool on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard for more than a decade. It can accommodate about 180 students.
“Our Scottsdale site has been open for six years and we’ve had a waiting list for some time,” Picciao said.
After experiencing a rebound following a 40% drop in enrollment in the early days of the pandemic, Picciao quickly saw demand soar as parents struggled to balance caring for a child while working from home.
“Our working-from-home parents ended up coming back once they realized how difficult it was to work with small children at home,” Picciao said.
Then came other factors that extended the waiting list from six months to a year, depending on the age of the children, representing a high demand for younger child care.
“The demand is exponential and the younger they are, the longer the waiting list,” Picciao said. “Between the other centers that are out or understaffed, I guess that’s why there’s such demand.”
Demand eventually reached a point where Picciao felt it was time to start looking for a second space.
“Our realtor was always watching when things came up and when that location became available, he immediately let us know. We went to look at it and decided to go,” she said.
Although she knew she needed space to accommodate more students, the facility had several factors that Picciao found appealing.
“The classrooms are spacious. They have great lighting, great access. It was built with children in mind and it is what we were looking for in the centers,” she said.
She also loved that the new space is a five-minute drive from Whiz Kidz Preschool’s existing Scottsdale location, near Scottsdale Road and Cactus Road.
“Because we personally have a demand, it made sense that we could send overflow families to a new facility if it works for their commute,” Picciao said.
With the space secured, Picciao admits there have been major hurdles to overcome to prepare for the June 6 opening.
“We were lucky enough to get some of the main furniture together, but the downside is that the cost of supplies like diapers, wipes, lunches and snacks has gone up,” she said. “Right now we’re getting by and we’ve had to adapt.”
However, what she had the hardest time getting was a stick.
“As a caregiver and an entrepreneur, it’s so hard for me not to be able to serve when there’s a need,” Picciao said. “When we saw this opportunity, we wondered if we would be able to staff it, but right now our biggest issue is hiring.”
Picciao hopes to attract up to 20 employees by offering a base salary of between $15 and $20 an hour and benefits.
“We not only want to provide the best care, but we also want to provide the best salaries and benefits to our employees to attract that quality member of staff,” she said.
Picciao seeks employees who have at least one year of paid daycare experience and prefers applicants with at least an associate’s degree in child development.
Picciao also hopes the summer will serve as an acclimatization period for staff before a rush at the start of the school year in August.
“We thought giving ourselves a few months to acclimate and get our bearings in place gave us time to grow slowly,” she said.
Picciao’s next goal is to train staff on how to make children feel at home while inside a Whiz Kidz Preschool facility.
“Our biggest goal is really to create a home away from home,” she said. “We want to have a safe, clean space with loving, caring staff, and then provide hands-on learning in a fun environment.”
She has also expressed interest in the expansion, but cites the hot property market as a challenge.
“We would like to open in other areas of the valley, but with the market being as hot for finding locations as for a house, that seemed like our only opportunity,” Picciao said.
Info: Families can call 480-999-0944 to reserve their spot today or visit whizkidzpreschool.com