Before you can put together a business plan and start a child care business it is essential that you do some proper market research. This is essential as you won’t be able to prepare a marketing strategy if you don’t understand the customers in the market that you are targeting.Many businesses outsource their market research to large companies who specialize in the research field. These services are really too expensive for the budget of a typical daycare startup though.To understand the overall child care market in your area you need to approach your research by looking at demographic data, local competitors as well as some of your prospective customers.This article looks at how entrepreneurs can undertake their own independent market research for a child care or daycare business.General Market InformationStart off by making sure that the area has potential in terms of having a population of families with young children. If you intend to put a business plan together and seek funding from investors or a bank you may have to back up your assumptions with demographic data from a reliable information source such as a recent census.There are also numerous local organizations that you can contact for information such as schools, churches and government departments. You will be surprised at what you can learn just by getting out there and talking to people or by making a few phone calls.Research the CompetitionVisit as many child care centers as you can in your local area. Even if you don’t have your own child of a suitable age you can always pretend that you do or say that you are making enquiries for relatives who will soon be moving to the area. Try to find out as much as you can about their pricing, facilities, services, staff qualifications and the way that they market themselves. As you walk around their daycare premises, put yourself in the shoes of a customer and make a note of anything that you really liked or disliked for future reference.One great way of assessing local demand for daycare services is to enquire with local child care centers about their waiting lists. If many have large waiting lists then this could be one sign that there is good potential in the local market.Research the Child Care Market with SurveysTo understand your customers better you should try to set up some interviews with families that fit your profile of a typical customer. Interviewing people in person is best but you can always do some by mail or on the phone. Offer people a voucher for a free coffee to thank them for taking the time to provide you with such useful information. The questions in your form should help you to assess local demand, understand what kind of daycare services are in demand and to find out if people are satisfied with the care that their children are currently receiving. If possible you should also get an idea of what kind of marketing they would be responsive to.After you have interviewed people, ask them for their contact details and let them know that you will give them a call when your business is set up. These people may later become your first customers if you paid enough attention to the needs and desires that they expressed in your interview session.If you are planning to start a child care business, market research can help you a lot in determining whether your ideas are viable and whether you want to proceed to prepare a full business plan.