Change can be scary. But more often than not, taking a step out of our comfort zones is incredibly rewarding. For this month’s SDP Client Spotlight, we sat down with one of our clients who has done exactly that: Robbin Wells, Owner of The Goddard Schools in McKinney, TX at University Drive and Craig Ranch.
Read on for her story of making a drastic career change, and how she has combined her past career experience with her current passions to build her dream career.
After spending the first 25 years of her life working in Sales and Marketing, Robbin knew that she wanted to spend the next 25 years doing something different.
In addition to her B.F.A. in public relations, a Masters in Journalism, and extensive business experience, Robbin had also earned a Masters in Early Childhood Education and developed a passion for child development and early education.
When she happened to find The Goddard School franchises, she knew it was time to open her own business that aligned with this passion.
She decided that rather than building her first school from scratch, she’d buy an existing school that had opened five years earlier. The transition was extremely smooth picking up policies, procedures, and best practices that were already in place. This, in turn, paved the way for her to build a second school four years later in August 2019.
One Heart Culture
Early on, Robbin understood that she needed to build a team culture of love and taking care of one another. She felt that if her team had a secure foundation of care and compassion in place, then they could translate that to their customers.
I wanted to build a company that people would want to spend time in every day. I had this vision of a “one heart” culture that would be infused throughout the entire business.
To make this vision a reality, Robbin focused on implementing a Servant Leadership model in her business. She felt that respect and lifting one another up were key to inside-out success — especially as an organization with a high percentage of women in the workplace.
Over time, taking small steps every day to listen and ask questions to understand outside perspectives, Robbin is proud of the culture of kindness, understanding, and love of learning that her team has created together.
Creating A Love Of Learning
If you’re not already familiar with The Goddard School, the organization is an early childhood education provider that believes learning shouldn’t be “one size fits all.” Today, there are more than 500 franchised Goddard Schools in 37 states.
Their focus is on children from the age of 6 weeks through Pre-K, with some programs for school-aged kids like an after-school “Kid’s Club.” At the University Drive and Craig Ranch schools, Robbin incorporates “tinker stations”, process-based art, and hands-on outdoor activities to encourage their young learners to explore and interact with the world around them.
For example, in their Gardening Program, Robbin and her husband “Farmer Rick” help the children design, build, care for, and harvest their own gardens. This gives the children the opportunity to taste new foods while also learning how and why they should take care of the planet.
As another example, when the kids turn 3, they are automatically enrolled in a weekly Chess class. Robbin shares,
It’s so rewarding to see what happens with children cognitively at that age. Their developments when it comes to patience, sportsmanship, strategic thinking, and cognitive flexibility make chess such a great game for children to learn slowly and consistently at this age.
As you can probably imagine, all of this was impacted by COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic, Robbin’s second school had only been open for 6 months. She remembers,
We were hiring teachers, adding to our staff… And then out of nowhere, we found ourselves faced with HR situations we had never been faced with before.
The Goddard School provided extensive guidance on safety and operations to its franchises in light of COVID-19. However, with furloughs, leaves of absences, shutdowns, sick leave, payroll tax credits, and PPP… Staying on top of all the changing laws and guidance was challenging.
Through it all, Robbin was thankful for SDP’s informational webinars and the ability to call after to confirm and ask follow-up questions to stay up-to-date.
I was literally teaching friends of mine with small businesses what I had learned from Southland Data Processing!
She knew that if she had been processing payroll in-house with a software program, she would not have had access to all the expert knowledge that supported her throughout the pandemic to keep their schools’ doors open.
Resources in SDP’s COVID-19 Business Resources Hub were plentiful, accessible, and extremely helpful. And when it was time to apply for PPP Loan Forgiveness, getting the reports she needed from Southland Data Processing was quick and easy.
We never had to worry about getting the newest and best guidance. The SDP Dashboard was so helpful–it was my go-to for PPP and payroll throughout the pandemic!
Returning To “Normal”
While their student enrollment did drop during the pandemic, The McKinney Goddard School Teams were proud to stay open throughout the crisis to care for the children of healthcare workers, bankers, government employees, and other essential workers.
As of June 2021, Robbin is excited to announce that both schools are enrolled to capacity–which doesn’t even always happen during normal times! They have plenty of children enrolled for summer camp, and as they plan their summer activities and field trips to local farms, things are finally starting to feel more “normal”.
Looking ahead, we’re excited for a greater sense of stability, normalcy, and being able to spend time with the same group of kids again as they go through their developmental milestones.
Ultimately, Robbin’s goal at The Goddard Schools is to support the families of their students. Robbin and her team are there to love their children, teach them a love of learning, and be a partner to their families. And they’re looking forward to returning to that goal for more students over the coming year.
A client of SDP’s since she acquired her first school in 2015, Robbin has been very happy with Southland’s partnership over the years. She even credits Southland Data Processing with playing a large role in their expansion.
Back in the day, Robbin and a friend of hers who ran payroll for a different company used to send each other “head exploding” emojis 🤯 on payroll day. When Robbin began to stop sending them, her friend asked why, and Robbin explained,
I have a great partner! You need to make a change to have someone else help you. For my ‘back of the house’ to have a ‘back of the house’ is super helpful!
Taking advantage of technology to sync her timecard data with payroll was also incredibly helpful.
I never realized how much time this took, but automating timekeeping took 3-4 steps out of the payroll process!
Above all else, Robbin loves that she can always pick up the phone and immediately connect with a rep to help her with whatever she needs. Whether it’s writing special reports, helping her through new processes she hasn’t been through before, or just answering a quick question, accessibility has been the best part of working with SDP.
Payroll processing can be stressful when it’s your company and your money. I made a mistake once — now I know to pick up the phone and call someone before making the mistake. I have a partner who’s there supporting me.
Get To Know The Goddard Schools
For most workers, transitioning back to onsite work means a new need to make some lifestyle changes. For those remaining as hybrid workers or going back to the office full-time, you may need to find a new childcare option. On behalf of Southland Data Processing and The Goddard Schools on University Drive & Craig Ranch in McKinney, we’d love for you to consider The Goddard School as a solution for your family.
At The Goddard School, safe and fun learning is their top priority. You can learn more about The Goddard Schools and their philosophy here. If you’re in the McKinney, TX area, you can get in touch with Robbin here. Or, find your nearest school here.
SDP Client Spotlights: Celebrating Our Clients
Every month, we highlight one of our amazing clients with the SDP Client Spotlight. Here at Southland Data Processing, we’re in the people business and strive to always put our clients first. So if you or your organization is interested in becoming our next Client Spotlight, please contact us at [email protected] and we’d love to hear your story!
Photo by The Goddard Schools at McKinney on University Drive & Craig Ranch