Running a preschool is, of course, a business. First and foremost, you are responsible for the loving care and education of young children. It is a huge responsibility! However, you’re also business owners looking to make money so that you can continue doing what you love. You need children enrollments or you will go out of business. It’s that simple.
To have a successful child care business, you must market yourself, advertise and sell your services. If you don’t have formal business or marketing training, you may not be sure about how to “sell” your program. However, your success depends on your ability to turn “leads” into enrollments (a “lead” being a prospective parent who shows interest in your child care program by calling or emailing you.)
The truth is, if you and your teachers love children and your facility is a clean, bright and happy place, then you have won half of the battle. Now, the task at hand is showing parents that their child belongs with you! Here are 7 simple ways to get more enrollments:
1. Have an online presence
An online presence makes you easy to find and also gives your business credibility. Over 80% of parents search for child care online and they will expect that you will have a website, or at the very least, a listing on a reputable site like CareLuLu (advertise your daycare here.) They will want to read about your facility, see pictures and do their “homework” before they call or tour. The more of an online presence that you have, the better. So if you have a website, you should still create a CareLuLu profile.
2. Be prepared with a well-rehearsed phone pitch
It is likely that the first contact the parent will make with you is over the phone. You need to be ready. There is a delicate balance between sounding professional and “on the ball” and sounding robotic and scripted. You want to be totally ready to discuss the school with anyone who calls but you should also make your tone conversational and friendly. Have a list of questions to ask parents, as well. The right questions will likely lead to a tour. If you’re not sure what to ask parents when they call, read this article.
3. Follow-up with parents quickly
When a parent contacts you, get back in touch as soon as possible. It is likely that they are comparing options, and you are almost certainly not the only program that they are considering. When they sat down to e-mail or call you, they probably contacted at least 4 or 5 other child care homes or centers. Often, the early bird gets the worm.
4. Be upbeat and cheerful
Parents want to leave their children with happy people. They want to imagine their child greeted each morning by smiling faces. If you are writing an e-mail or talking to them on the phone, make sure you sound excited to be talking to them and equally as excited to meet their child. If you are stressed, tired, annoyed or hungry, make sure that they cannot tell. Parents don’t want their children with cranky or tired people all day.
5. Show genuine interest in the family
The conversations you have with parents should be centered around their family. Don’t try and simply sell your services. If you rattle off a list of attributes of the preschool program, you will sound like a used car salesman. Talk to them about their lifestyle, their jobs, their kids’ personalities and so on. Once you have an idea of who they are, let them know why you think your program is the perfect fit. For example, if they are a family of athletes, they may be excited to hear about your physical education program.
6. Have a clear “closing”
When speaking with parents, end all conversations with a closing that invites them to visit. You can also use another “call to action” such as telling them about a promotion that you are running. Each time you get off of the phone with a parent you should have made every effort to get them into your doors for a tour.
7. Be persistent
This can be tough as you may feel that you are being a pest but any salesperson will tell you that often you must be persistent in order to close a deal. Try at least 7 times to get in touch with the parent either over the phone or via e-mail. Busy parents may forget to call back or lose your information. In your messages, always sound upbeat and chipper and never mention that they haven’t called back. Just let them know that you are still interested in talking with them and meeting their child.
In short, be genuinely happy and open when speaking to the parents and families that contact you. Keep in mind that entrusting you with their child which is a huge decision. Let them know that you get it, and that they matter to you. Follow up with them quickly and be persistent about getting in touch. Be prepared to talk with them about your school at any time, always ask questions and invite parents to your center. Most importantly, make it clear that it is all about them and their child.