As a child care provider or preschool director, you must fully understand these feelings and empathize as much as possible in order to win parents over. A failure to follow up on a child care referral, or a bad first impression will ruin your chances of getting an enrollment.
Whether a prospective parent found you online on CareLuLu, or heard about you from friends, here are 5 simple tips on how to follow up on a child care referral:
1. Follow up immediately
Time is of the essence. Parents who are calling or have been referred to you are not only looking at your child care or preschool program. They are probably deciding between a few centers (or homes.) The sooner you get in touch, the better. Never go more than one business day before getting in touch.
2. Be personable & friendly
No matter what is happening. No matter what you are dealing with. Even if 2 kids just threw up in the hall and the 3 year old classroom is going ballistic. Even if you opened the center at 6 a.m. and it is now 5 p.m. None of that matters. You must be pleasant, perky, upbeat and cheerful. If you fail to do that, then you are not likely to schedule a tour with that family. If you don’t schedule a tour, then you aren’t going to enroll their child. Simple as that. So smile (yes, even when on the phone or responding to a child care referral email!)
3. Refer to the parents’ questions and use their language.
This is a common sales technique. Talk to them in a way that they understand. Agree with them whenever possible. Show them that you are like them and, most importantly, that you care. Talk to them about your own children if you have any. Mention that you also love the NFL team that they like. Ask them all about their job. Make conversation. Never rush them off of the phone.
4. Invite them for a tour
This is their opportunity to get to know you and your staff and to see the facility. If you can get them to come in for a tour, you have won half of the battle. Once they are there, it will be your time to shine so make sure that you do. During the child care tour, show off all of the best aspects of the program, talk to them about your preschool teaching philosophy and approach to learning, discipline and so on and be sure to offer references.
5. Follow up again, and again
Keep following up. Over and over. Call, e-mail and even send them paper mail. Contact them at least 7 times. You may feel like you will become an annoyance, but the truth is that persistence is another key to sales. You are trying to sell your services so keep convincing them that your home or center is the place for them and their child. Parents are often busy with a million things and may forget to call you so don’t give up until they say “No thank you. We are going somewhere else.”
Parents are looking to place their kids in a loving and happy environment. They want to imagine their child being hugged and kissed, comforted and nurtured, as well as learning and growing. The way you respond to a child care referral will have a huge effect on prospective parents’ perception of your child care or preschool program. So remember: Be prompt, pleasant, inquisitive, agreeable, inviting and persistent!