W hen speaking to parents on the phone, it is of the utmost importance that you make a good first impression. The impression that they get on the phone will weigh heavily as they make decisions about where to tour, and later, where to enroll their little one.
You may not be in a great mood. You’ve been up since 5 am. You may be hungry or tired. BUT, you must be perky, chipper and eager to talk. This is not negotiable. Parents want to send their child to a “happy place.” They want to imagine their child being loved and cuddled. A cranky lady who hasn’t had her coffee doesn’t convey that image.
The most important part of the conversation is, without a doubt, the questions that you choose to ask. They will inform you on the family’s needs, their expectations and their general feelings about child care and preschool. Asking questions will also make parents feel that you really care about their family and that you are trying to get to know them.
Here are 5 important questions to ask prospective parents:
1. “May I ask who is calling?”
This is obvious, right? Well, you’d be shocked how often child care providers or preschool directors forget to ask this question. There are two reasons why this question is important. The first is that it is hard to follow up with a person whose name you do not know. The second is that getting their name will allow you to speak with them on a first-name basis throughout the conversation. This is a great way to build trust and rapport. It is also a good idea to ask the name of their child and refer to the child by name as much as possible.
2. “May I get your number in case we get disconnected?”
This is a great way to make sure you can get back in contact, if need be. In this day and age, many people will be calling from cell phones which may drop calls. It is also a good way to go ahead and get their phone number for the future when you follow up.
3. “Please tell me more about yourself and what you are looking for.”
This will enable you to learn more about the family. This is the time to ask questions about their child, their job, their lifestyle and so on. You can then discuss what your home-based child care program or your center has to offer and why you think you are a good match for their family.
4. “When would you like to come by and visit our child care program?”
Rather than leaving it up to them to call back later (which may never happen) or waiting to call or e-mail them, you should try and set a tour date and time right then. Getting them into your facility is the next step toward getting their child enrolled. Remember, yours is probably not the only tour that they will be taking so you need to seize the moment.
5. “Can I get your email address so I can send you more information?”
Follow up right away (that day, if at all possible) with a quick e-mail thanking them for their interest and giving them more information. If you weren’t able to set up a tour over the phone, try again in this e-mail. If they did schedule a tour on the phone be sure to remind them of the time, date and address of your home or center.
The first phone conversation that you have with a parent will set the tone for the relationship. You will either build trust and rapport or turn them off. You will either be able to schedule a tour or probably never meet them in person. This is not to say that there is nothing that you can do if the first call isn’t great, but it will certainly make getting their business more of an uphill battle. A great first impression is key! Ask the right questions, stay upbeat, show them that you care and make them feel important… and you will likely be enrolling their child in no time!