Y ou may be struggling to get the enrollments you need but you’re not sure why. Your facility is clean. Your teachers are wonderful. The rooms are lovely. The playground area is impressive. You are always available for tours, always jumping on referrals and always ready to answer questions. Despite all that, you just aren’t enrolling as many children as you wish in your child care or preschool program. The truth is, you are probably not even getting a small fraction of the parent interest you should be getting.
Why? Because of your website.
You must keep this in mind: your preschool website is the first impression that prospective parents will get of you. If it is not impressive, then they will dismiss your program as being less than desirable. “But, that isn’t the case!” you say. You are qualified, you love children and genuinely put your heart and passion into your job. In fact, it is way more than a job for you, it’s your life! What you may not realize is that none of that matters if your website is not up to date, great looking and informative. Parents will point and click away from your site, never to return.
Here are 5 reasons that you may be scaring off parents with your website:
1. You have no website! This one seems obvious but it is shocking how many businesses still do not maintain a web presence. The truth is, having a web presence in this day and age is pretty much a necessity, not a choice. With that said, creating a website costs money and usually requires technical skills. If you can’t build your own website, then you should advertise your child care program on CareLuLu so that parents searching on the internet can find you (80% of parents find child care online, by the way.)
2. Poor spelling and grammar is perhaps the single worst mistake that you could make on your website. There are two reasons. The first is that, across the board, people are going to be turned off by a website with misspellings and many other grammatical issues. It diminishes the business’ credibility. The second is that you’re presenting yourself as a place of learning. If you do not appear to be educated, parents will not want to entrust you with educating their child.
3. Missing contact information. You need to make sure that your site has all your contact information, and that it is listed clearly in a noticeable area of the site. That should include your address, phone number, and your e-mail (or a contact form.) Make sure that your information is up-to-date, and always respond to voicemails, e-mails and other inquiries as quickly as possible. Parents who are surfing the internet looking for child care have likely contacted a few facilities. If you want to be the one who “hooks” them, then you need to be quick to get back in touch.
4. Poor design is a huge issue for many small business websites. This is because they are often designed by the business owner and not by a professional web designer. That is understandable, of course, you are a child care owner or preschool director, not a designer, after all! That is not to say that you need to hire a web designer (if you can afford it, go for it!), but you should pay attention to basic design concepts. Check out the sites of other child care and preschool programs and see how they are organized. Primrose Schools or The Goddard School are good examples of websites. Make sure that the site is legible, aesthetically pleasing and not cluttered. Also, be sure to verify that all your links work.
5. Having no photos on a child care website is nothing short of business suicide. There probably isn’t any more obvious way to turn people off to your center (other than having no site at all, that is). Parents love to see what your facility, your teachers, classrooms and outdoor areas all look like. It gives them a sense of security and allows them to feel better about the prospect of their child spending their day with you. In a way, it illustrates that you have nothing to hide, and it shows that you are proud of your center (or home.) Of course, it never hurts to post photos of happy, smiling children who are learning and having fun.
It was not so long ago that having a website was considered a luxury. It certainly wasn’t something that every business had. All of that has changed. Today, every business (and everybody) has a web presence. Again, if a website is out of the question for you, you can create a free CareLuLu profile to instantly have an online presence. It’s a simple and easy way to get noticed by local parents. Once you have built your web presence, make sure that it is up to date, free of errors, user-friendly and chock full of pictures. People judge a business and its credibility by its website. Often times, it is their very first glimpse of you and your child care program!