Interview - Siobhan McCaroll

Monday, January 7, 2019

Dunky's Day Nurseries, which has settings across Cheshire, recently opened its fifth nursery. We talked to director Siobhan McCaroll

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START THE NURSERY GROUP?

The first nursery was an existing nursery in Widnes and was purchased in December 2005. I had been working as a nursery manager for a private provider and felt I had all the experience to be able to start my own business. Prior to this, I had gained a wealth of knowledge and experience since qualifying in 1989. I had always dreamed of owning my own nursery but knew it would not be an easy business to run.

HOW QUICKLY HAS THE GROUP GROWN?

It has been 13 years since purchasing the first nursery. We bought the second nursery in Runcorn in 2008. It took a long time and a lot of sleepless nights to build both of these businesses into viable sustainable nurseries. We opened the third nursery in Warrington (an old pub), followed by a nursery in Sankey in 2015. In September last year, we opened our fifth nursery in Culcheth.

It was never my plan to have five nurseries, but I always wanted to have a successful business and provide great places for children to learn and grow. The right opportunities have come along at the right time and we have been very fortunate to be able to act on them due to the close relationship we have with our bank HSBC and the amazing staff team we employ.

WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS MADE THE NURSERY GROUP SO SUCCESSFUL?

The success of the group is definitely down to hard work and determination. ‘Failure is not an option’ is a saying I use quite a lot. The team we have is key to all of this, we are very lucky to have a low staff turnover and retain our staff – some have reached milestones of over ten years; we have 75 of them, they are an amazing team with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I decided many years ago that if I were ever lucky enough to own my own business, I would not be the business! I employ an amazing senior manager, Jane Mclean, whom I have known and worked with over a 24-year period. Jane is the glue that holds it all together, allowing me to focus on other areas of the business including business development.

CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING WOMAN OF THE YEAR AT THE WARRINGTON BUSINESS AWARDS – WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU?

Winning this award was an amazing honour and a great surprise. I had been a finalist in 2016 so didn’t think for one minute I would win the award. It was an amazing achievement and has made me more determined to continue with the important work we do.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?

The plan for the short-term future is to keep working hard and cementing the success of the nurseries we already have to ensure we are secure. If the opportunity comes along for any more sites, we would definitely consider this, but not at the risk of the businesses we already have.

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