Relationships are at the core of any successful childcare center, preschool, Montessori, special needs or private elementary school. This includes the interaction you have with parents, teachers, children and your vendors. Engaging the members of each of these four groups will help to ensure that your center or school is more successful.
Today, we’ll focus on engaging parents. From the first time a parent encounters one of your advertisements from print to a recommendation from someone else who knows your school to an exit interview when they leave your school, you are engaging that parent with your point of contact. As we work in a competitive environment, it’s important to make every contact as beneficial and possible.
- Internet Presence-For many early education companies, this one is limited to a website, and many times these websites are created, launched and forgotten. Your website gives you the opportunity to provide parents with the best and most up-to-date information about your center or school and its activities. It gives you the chance to show parents that you are better and more knowledgeable that your competition. Review and improve your website at least every 90 days. It may only be small changes in the beginning, but getting in the habit will lead you to learn more and make bigger improvements as you move forward.
- Social Media Platforms-Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and Instagram are all useful platforms.
- Staff-Every staff member from your director and teachers to your cook and maintenance person can be a walking ambassador for your company. Who knows more than these people about the way “their” center or school performs. Everyone spends money on advertising. If you choose to incentivize your staff for bringing more parents in the door, you have the opportunity to increase your enrollment and reward your staff… creating greater staff loyalty as a byproduct. While it may not be typical for you, advertising expense paid to staff can certainly be more beneficial for you than the money you spend with vendors.
- Vendors-Most people don’t think of most of their vendors as sources of new business, but your vendors very likely interact with many parents in your local area. These people are highly rated and often overlooked resources. These relationships can set up as barter relationships (they send parents to you and you send clients to them) or you can choose to pay them for each new referral that stays enrolled for X period of time.
- Print Media-While print media is used less in the age of the internet and social media connectivity, it is still an important factor for getting the initial attention of parents and for keeping parents informed once they have become clients. There is still a place for print media, but it can be very helpful to you if you remember that most anything you’ve ever done in print, can be done digitally faster and cheaper.
- The Exit Interview-If you conduct exit interviews with your staff or parents, you have the opportunity to learn how you can better connect with parents. Many people will share information in an exit interview that they won’t share in the middle of a relationship. This is a great way to discover new options.
- Local Elementary Schools-There are few things better than teachers from local schools that will recommend your center or school to a parent. These contact points can send elementary age children to you as well as their younger siblings.
- Open House-An open house for local parents to view your center or school and meet your teachers is always fun and not terribly expensive for the opportunity to be face to face with potential clients.
These proven tools can greatly improve your early education company. Their effective use can also provide you with a cumulative effect as more parents who become clients means more parents to refer additional parents.
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