The first visit to your center is a big deal for any parent. It is their first glimpse into your daily routines, your classrooms and your facilities. They, of course, are looking for a clean and happy environment, but they are also watching you and your staff closely. Parents are making a huge decision by leaving their child in your care and they want to feel like their little one will be happy and safe when at your center. Your greeting, your mood and your level of interest in their child and in their family will all contribute to their overall perception of your business. In order to make a good impression and (hopefully) get an enrollment, you should consider the following 7 tips.
1. When a prospective parent calls, your goal is to get them in for a tour.
Schedule the tour strategically, depending on your preschool’s schedule. It’s probably not best to schedule a tour during nap, for example. There won’t be much to see. If you’re an in-home child care provider and will not be able to focus on speaking with the parents during the day while children are present, it’s best to get prospective families to visit in the evening or weekend. This way, you can give the parent your undivided attention. Offer to schedule an observation on another day and no matter what you do, try to have them come in as soon as possible after the call.
2. Remind the parent of the upcoming tour.
Send an email reminder the night before and call the morning of the scheduled tour to verify that they are still coming.
3. Prep staff for the parents’ arrival.
Make sure your child care staff greet parents when they arrive and depart. Prepare all teachers whose rooms you will be entering so that they are not startled or taken off guard.
4. Express genuine interest in getting to know the parents AND the child.
Ask questions, pay attention and share stories from your child care program. Keep the conversation upbeat and light. Make sure you not only engage with the parents but also the child, if present.
5. At the end of the tour, ask parents if they have any concerns.
Be the one to bring this up. Don’t let them leave thinking anything that they haven’t shared with you. This shows you’re open to hearing criticism and it also gives you the opportunity to explain why certain things may be the way that they are.
6. Offer parent references.
Nothing impresses prospective parents more than a glowing recommendation from another parent. Give them written or phone references and allow them to call or contact the parents at their own convenience. Make sure that you prepare your references, of course.
7. Follow up. Multiple Times.
Give the parent a call a day or two after the visit. Don’t let them forget you! Keep following up via phone and email until you hear back. Follow up a minimum of 7 times. You may feel like you are pestering them but persistence is key. They may have forgotten to call you or may have lost track of your phone number. Parents with young children are inherently busy, frazzled and forgetful.
When giving a tour, you should always bring your “A Game.” The first impression that a parent gets of you, your child care program, and your facilities is integral to their decision. They will remember your attitude, your tone of voice and your general mood. They will also remember the rooms, the teachers and the staff. There is nothing that they won’t remember, really. This is a huge decision for them so try to make it easier for them to decide by making a great impression so that they can feel good about their choice.