For Business

Supporting Stables Daycare: A case study

We have worked with Caroline Johnson, MD and Founder of Stables Daycare, for a number of years and have watched her business go from strength to strength.

I knew that Hazlewoods had a fantastic reputation, with Rachael being a great asset – I completely trust her.

I needed an adviser who understood the nature of my business, not someone who was just going to look at the figures and that’s it, as there are many variables that come along due to the market.”

How has Stables Daycare developed over the years?

It’s gone from strength to strength and reached full capacity after our first year in 2006. We opened our Forest School in 2016 and have since dedicated our efforts and expertise to quality indoor and outdoor playtime experiences.

We’ve come a long way since winning NMT’s ‘Best Nursery Newcomer’ in 2005, which is where I met former Hazlewoods Partner, Andy Brookes, who was one of the judges.

Caroline, how did it all begin? Tell us about your background and what led you to running Stables Daycare.

I love working with children and have done since I was 18, where I started out as a child minder going on to achieve a degree in Early Years psychology and an Early Years Masters, alongside many other courses.

In 2003 when juggling my studies and three children at the time, I found a lot of nurseries only offered set session slots, which didn’t accommodate my day-to-day. So, I decided to set up a form of flexi-creche.

I came across a private school that had recently bought a country estate with various outbuildings and lots of land. They agreed for me to purchase some of the outbuildings – a set of garages and a derelict donkey stable, which was full of asbestos and ivy! It took five months for planning to be approved, and three months to bring the stables back to life – new roof, electricity, the lot.

On 19 December 2004, we held an open morning where over 100 people attended – we even made it into The Daily Mirror and Metro! On 17 January 2005 we officially opened our nursery with eight children.

What did you find you needed support with?

When you mention ‘HMRC’ to me, my mind goes to mush and it’s really mind-boggling. But I am, and always will be, cautious with my accounts – they must be done properly.

In the very early stages of my business, I used a local accountant, however, as we progressed, I think we became too big for them.

It’s not until I spoke to Andy at the NMT Awards and was then introduced to Hazlewoods Partner, Rachael Anstee, that I realised I was in good hands.

Rachael, tell us more about becoming Caroline’s adviser.

Caroline and Stables Daycare has a really good reputation – she always has a waiting list. She’s also very entrepreneurial and is constantly doing something or at least thinking of doing something!

Caroline came to us not really getting much support from her accountant at the time, which is where my aim was to become that trusted adviser offering tailored guidance.

Over the years, and more so recently, the nursery sector is a tough, ever-changing landscape, with nurseries closing and ongoing staffing issues to name just a few challenges. That’s why it’s important to monitor the trends and activity within your sector and work closely with your adviser in order to remain flexible and adaptable.

Caroline, how have you found working with Hazlewoods and Rachael?

I knew that Hazlewoods had a fantastic reputation, with Rachael being a great asset – I completely trust her.

I needed an adviser who understood the nature of my business, not someone who was just going to look at the figures and that’s it, as there are many variables that come along due to the market.

When we send over our books every year, Rachael comes armed with a handful of really interesting questions, so we can actually have a conversation about my business and what’s going on in the sector.

Over the years, it has become more than just a working relationship – we meet in person for a good catch up, not just to discuss my accounts but also life as well and other projects I have on the go.

How have you helped Caroline, Rachael?

I support Caroline with her ongoing accounts and tax planning, offering guidance regarding any challenges or opportunities that present themselves along the way.

Something that I remember Caroline being really pleased with, was how we were able to transfer shares to her daughters. Over the years, I have provided tax planning advice that’s resulted in Caroline getting income into her children’s hands in a very low tax environment.

Their dividends built up over time, on which they paid no or very little tax. When they come to need that money, perhaps for those milestone moments in life, it can be taken out of the company without paying any further tax on it – something that will stand her and her daughters in good stead.

We have also talked about succession planning, but children often have different aspirations as they grow up, and don’t always want to get involved in their parent’s business! However, you do find that once children become older, they sometimes revisit the idea of taking on the business for various reasons and that sparks the succession planning discussion once more.

But we’ll be on hand to advise should that arise with Caroline and her daughters at any point in the future – it’s all about keeping the dialogue open.

Rachael mentioned that you are an entrepreneurial person – what are your future plans, Caroline?

I have a few ideas and projects in the pipeline, including a parent consultation business and the development of a new baby cot bed. I really want to use my experience and what I’ve learnt over the years to give something back to people. As and when those projects develop, I’ll be turning to Rachael for advice.

I’m also looking to grow Stables Daycare due to my increasing waiting list and would ideally love to expand the premises within my local vicinity, so am currently discussing potential opportunities there.

Meet the team

La que dit millam, cus volest quidestiatio quo iumque lam harchit hiligen delibus acepelignis sendio et ma eatiumq uamusda eritatq uiaectur.”

Solecaecea Quatia