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Caring About Growth

Casey Miller's Building Blocks to Success

Ten years ago Casey Miller found himself in a frustrating position. His daughter needed to attend day care, but there weren’t any spots available in West Omaha. That prompted him to change careers from financial advisor to business owner, and he purchased his first day care facility. He and his wife ran that center for the next six years until they were presented with another opportunity—build another facility from scratch or purchase an existing one.

“Opening a brand new center would have been a lot more time consuming,” Miller said. “We paid a small premium for an existing business that had already been established for 20 years, but we walked in the door and day 1 started making money.” From there it has been a series of additional acquisitions. “We were able to buy the equipment, rebrand, freshen up the facilities, and open them within a year,” he added.

Miller currently owns six child care centers, five in Omaha and his most recent purchase, Aspen Child Care, in Lincoln, whose owners were ready to retire. Miller said he had told his business broker, The Firm, that if the perfect opportunity came along, he’d consider it. “The Firm had a clear understanding of my career objectives,” he said. “They showed me the financials on this deal, and I was immediately able to pinpoint an extra 10% of gross revenue that was being wasted. I knew I could make that back right away.” Miller made a full-price offer, knowing the next person who saw the deal would jump on it, so he needed to act fast.

 

"It's like anything else - you learn something and you become a professional in it."
- Casey Miller

 

The first thing Miller did was bring the payroll down from 65% to 55%, with the industry standard being 50%. Some natural employee turnover occurred following the purchase that enabled him to solve the payroll problem. “We developed key relationships with staff and parents and were able to weed out unnecessary extras like excess supplies that weren’t being used,” Miller said. “We’ve already showed profitability, and the center has tripled enrollment from when we purchased it.”

In addition to owning the day care centers, Miller also owns a catering business that serves only day cares. He started it after he purchased his third center and initially just provided food to the facilities he owned. However, he realized there was a need for this type of service among all day care centers. “I was growing my own businesses at the time and wasn’t happy with the provider in town,” he said. “I knew other centers weren’t happy either, so after six months we started working with other centers throughout Omaha.”

With all of these businesses Miller admitted it became difficult to manage everything on his own. But recently he developed processes and hired a district manager and facility manager to help him so he can focus on continued growth and development. “I made the decision to take a little pay cut myself for a while to help make my life easier,” he said. “I want to continue to grow and am always open to new opportunities.”

Miller has certainly found his niche with acquiring child care centers, and said what may take others weeks or months to figure out, he’s able to identify up front and knows what’s necessary to make it work. “I was always taught not to venture too far out of the box when growing a business because that’s where you run into curve balls,” he said. “It’s like anything else—you learn something and you become a professional in it.”

 

The Firm Deal Review

Number of Businesses Bought: 4

Career: Financial advisor to childcare owner

Age: 31

Number of Employees: 144

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