Choosing a daycare is a big deal. Parents will go the extra mile to find the most nurturing environment for their kids to thrive, and this involves lots of research and plenty of questions. That being said, no amount of planning can fully prepare parents for this highly emotional journey. If you want to boost your enrollment numbers, you have to put yourself in a position where you can influence their complex decision-making process.
Sounds good, but how?
There is no shortcut to convincing families to select your school. It’s all about slowly winning their trust. During every stage of their selection journey, parents will have questions. Your job is to win their confidence by addressing their concerns one by one.
· They’re not sure if they want to send their kids to daycare? Show them a blog post highlighting the social, economic, and academic benefits.
· Parents have questions about security, cleanliness, staff quality and more. Make sure you reply ASAP.
· Your students gave an amazing theater performance in class? Upload their photos to your school’s Facebook page!
Although the journey is not always a straight path, we’ll show you a way to lead that path directly to your daycare. A marketing funnel which guides parents from complete strangers to paying clients. Keep in mind that at every stage, you are nurturing your relationship with prospective families. There’s no silver bullet. It’s a natural progression. The sum of many parts which eventually lead to an enrollment. We will take you through every stage of the selection journey. Most importantly, we’ll provide the ultimate plan of action for each step. Let’s begin!
Stage 1: “What are my options?”
Here, your prospects might not know you exist. They might not even be sure if they want to place their children in daycare. Typical questions are: Should I extend my maternity leave? Will I hire a nanny? What are the benefits of sending my child to daycare? As a daycare provider, you must have a presence before parents even realize they need you. You need to establish a solid brand with a unified and attractive message. Position your school as friendly, warm, and welcoming. Use empathy to put yourself in parents’ shoes. Spark their interest by speaking their language. Provide them with easy and convenient ways to get to know you.
Action Plan: Be Present
Of course, you have a website, right? You’ve already made it easy for parents to find you with a few clicks, and of course, you also keep it user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Aside from including the basic information about your school on your site, it is important to add helpful blog posts and articles that can help parents select the best school for their child (answering their questions).
As they start reading, your trust levels start increasing.
Make sure that the articles are relatable, clickable, shareable, and genuinely valuable. The La Petite Academy website is a great example. They share blog posts and other resources that assist parents in their decision-making process. Instead of the hard-sell, they’re simply present and helpful.
Establishing your presence within your regional community is also essential. An easy way to do this is to host events on a regular basis. It may be an annual sporting event or a regular theater performance, but the important thing is to let the community know that you exist! Bright Horizons is a daycare group doing a great job of bringing the community together.
You might think: sure they have the resources, they’re a huge group. But take a look at their events: it’s not that hard to do the same.
Their “Music Night” is just one of the events scheduled on their Facebook page.
Another one of Bright Horizon’s events celebrates diversity. This not only brings all members of the community together, but also defines the school as being open and tolerant.
The more relatable and attractive these events are, the more they will be shared, too. This increases your school’s visibility online and obviously gets more families to attend the events.
Stage 2: “What’s this school all about?”
When parents ask this question, take it as a good sign. It means you have captured their attention in stage 1. It also means that they are open to hearing what you have to offer. At this point, your prospect is interested in hearing specifically about your school. This isn’t the time for closing the deal yet. It’s all about guiding them through their selection process by providing information and being available.
Action Plan: Be Accessible And Responsive
If parents are already interested in your school, you need to make the process convenient. It all starts with an inquiry. Whether it’s a phone call, Facebook message, email, or a surprise visit – make sure that you have a protocol in place when dealing with people who are showing interest. Your communication channels need to be clearly defined and accessible, too. On the Children’s Courtyard Facebook page, their phone number and website are clearly listed.
Parents will also want to know what life is like for students in your daycare. Before they ask you the question directly, be prepared with testimonials and videos from parents of kids who are enrolled in your school.
Childtime does a wonderful job of sharing videos and testimonials from parents whose kids are enrolled in their daycare.
You can also highlight the achievement of your teachers. It will give your prospects more confidence to know that they are leaving their kids in good hands.
Here’s a blog post about a Q&A session with one of the teachers at Childtime.
Step 3: “Why should I choose you?”
At this stage, you’re visible, accessible, and responsive. You’ve shown what you’re all about and you have direct interest from prospective parents. Time for the hard sell? No. It’s time to listen. Let the parents tell their stories. Encourage them to ask questions, and provide them with the answers. Once you’ve heard what they have to say, you’re able to position yourself as the best option by highlighting the strengths and benefits of your daycare.
Action Plan: Be The Best Option
You understand your prospect’s needs, and now you need to provide solutions. Start by highlighting your school’s unique selling proposition. Define your benefits and get the message out there. Everbrook Academy positions itself as a “21st-century preschool.” They highlight how they use technology to enhance the educational experience of the kids.
As they say, “The proof is in the pudding.” A tour of your daycare is the perfect opportunity to show prospective parents what you have to offer. Here’s how Bright Horizons uses social media to convince interested parents to visit their daycare. They provided a short video as a teaser.
Being open and transparent is very important too. Parents will have various practical concerns and questions. For example, the high cost of daycare facilities is a contentious issue. Be sure to have open discussions about your pricing structures and payment options with parents. Also, talk about the safety situation in your facility. You need to give parents confidence that their children are safe and secure when they leave them with you.
Step 4: “What will make me stay?”
Once you’ve earned that enrollment, it isn’t all downhill. You need to keep the parents and kids happy. At this stage, your goal is to reinsure parents that they made the right decision. You need to deliver on your promises.
Action Plan: Be Consistent
Parents need a constant reminder that they chose the right school. Don’t wait for them to ask questions or bring up problems. Take the initiative to give them updates, especially when the kids are making progress. Bright Horizons have regular posts called “What in the World Happened Today?” Here, they share stories and photos of all the exciting things the kids did at daycare.
They also have regular updates called “Classroom of the Week.” Here’s where they show the children in their learning environment. It’s a great way for parents to get a glimpse of their kids in action.
Request feedback from parents regularly. Ask them if they have any concerns and if they’re happy with the activities and programs at the daycare. This proactive approach will constantly reassure them that they’ve made a great choice. When you value the opinion of parents, you remind them of how important their children’s well-being is to you.
Worth the effort
In summary, there is no quick fix to instantly boost enrollment. But if you focus on gaining the trust of parents, you have the most chances of succeeding. They are facing a very big decision. Understanding the stages parents go through is necessary.
You might be thinking: sure, it’s easy for the large groups to set up blogs and videos and stuff. We would answer that it’s a matter of mindset and priorities. Understand that parents have choices. They are more skeptical than ever. They will not be swayed by fliers and radio ads.
Spend 2 hours a week building a “persuasion system” like this, focused on gaining trust. It’s the only way to succeed in the daycare market nowadays.