Creating a New Paradigm

Michele Cadaret and her sister Angela Jones were both teachers when they started having kids and went searching for adequate childcare. They noticed that nothing they found was up to the standards that they wanted for their own children, and that’s how Paradigm Care & Enrichment Center in Waterford first started 10 years ago.
 
Paradigm is an education-based childcare program. The kids do a lot of playing, but it’s playtime with purpose. The building is designed so that there is a constant flow of kids from room to room, so instead of the usual daycare setup where each room is dedicated to one age group, each room here is dedicated to one activity. There is an art room, a drama room, a library, a music room, a math room, a multicultural room, and more. “The kids aren’t stuck in the same room all day long,” Cadaret says. “It’s a totally different approach [to daycare].”
 
The family-owned and operated center accepts children and infants starting at six weeks old through five years old during the school year, and in the summer they have programs for kids up to age 12. Paradigm focuses on academic readiness, preparing kids for what they need to know going into kindergarten and for what the state of Michigan expects from them academically. The staff, many of whom have been with the company for seven years or more, are comprised of trained teachers, nurses, and moms. “These are people who want to be here and love what the do,” Cadaret says. “The teachers become really close with the families because there’s such a low turnover.” Paradigm also stays open regardless of the weather, because parents still need to go to work. “We’re here for the parents to support what their needs are. We don’t close down for snow days.”
 
Recently the sisters started discussing a second location. Cadaret attended a finance seminar at Schoolcraft College and it was there that she learned about all of the resources available to small business owners at the Oakland County Business Center. “I had no idea it was there,” she says. They started working with Catherine Abad, Senior Business Consultant for the Center, on identifying an ideal new location for the business.
 
“We mapped her existing clients and looked at their spending habits, demographics, where those people live and where she wanted to [open a second location],” says Abad. “The first few [options] weren’t a good fit – the education level was too low, spending on daycare wasn’t high enough, there weren’t enough children under age nine.” The analysis continued for months and plans seemed to stall, until a realtor called Cadaret and told her that there was a daycare center for sale in Canton.
 
“Canton wasn’t even on our radar,” Cadaret says. They had been looking in neighboring cities like Livonia, Northville, and Novi, but hadn’t really considered Canton as an option. She called Abad immediately to have her run the numbers. “In all honesty I would have walked through the building and not pushed it, but Cathie said, ‘No, look at the numbers, you need to push it,’ I thought I wanted to go for a different demographic and not put all our eggs in one basket, [but Cathie said], ‘Why would you do that when what you’re doing is working? Stick with that you know.'”
 
“It was a lot of work but what we did was take the guesswork out of the location,” says Abad. “Now she’s much more confident in opening her second location. She was even able to use that market research to get and close her loan. Honestly, we do that every day for businesses, saving them so much heartache and so much misery by steering them away from a bad investment.”
 
“Our first time around it was just sort of a gamble,” Cadaret says. “The builder found a piece of property, we found out there were kids in the area, we looked around and there weren’t a lot of other schools in the area. This time around having Cathie’s info behind us is just such a different [approach]. Before it was just a prayer.”
 
“If a client is not coachable and not willing to listen to what we’re telling them, we’re wasting everyone’s time,” Abad says. “Michelle was very open. She had no idea the level of sophistication of her existing client base. It gave her that confidence that she is in the right place.”
 
The sisters just closed on the new building in Canton at the end of January and are now renovating it. They hope to have it open in March.