Child Care Marketing
Marketing your business is the single most important thing an owner has to do for their child care business. After you have taken all of the steps, including choosing an entity, choosing a location to operate, purchasing everything you need to run the child care center, getting licensed by DCFS, etc., if you do not let people know you exist, your child care business will fail. Simply, marketing is the process by which you communicate your service to a potential parent.
There are many pieces of the child care marketing puzzle. Who do you want to provide services for? What is the ideal family you want to work with? How do you plan to get the word out? What method will you choose to communicate your services and
your philosphy on child care? How will you handle your potential parent when they call? What is your approach to interviewing the parent and child when they visit? How do you get them to enroll?
Child Care Marketing is similar to marketing most other businesses. Seriously take some thought about all aspects. Invest properly in marketing and you will see a nice return. Keep in mind that there is not one marketing plan that will fit every child care program. On average it takes at least three times for your business to be seen before a person responds to it. Mix up your advertining techniques a bit. See what works best and use it but don't be afraid to try new things. This approach will get you great exposure.
See the list below for great ideas on child care marketing.
CHILD CARE MARKETING:
Initial Phone Contact
-Have phone located in an area with a minimum of noise
-Answer promptly, three rings or less
-Use an answering machine with a friendly message
-Check for messages regularly
-Return calls promptly
-Maintain a phone log of inquirers
-Follow up inquiries
The visit begins outside; pay attention to the building’s exterior and the entry way.
Are outdoor play areas clean and appropriately staffed?
Locate office where you can see visitors entering.
What do parents hear when they enter?
What do parents smell?
What do parents see?
Greeting Parents and Children
Greeting begins with your appearance
Welcome the child by bending down to eye level.
Use visitors’ names several times during the conversation
Listen to visitors’ questions
On a tour, describe typical activities and point out signs of quality:
High level of staff training
Absence of serious non-compliance notice beside license
Sell your program:
A photo album of past events
Collection of past newsletters
Letters of testimonial from other parents
Get information from the visitors.
Child’s birth date
Follow up with a thank you note immediately, and a phone call later.
Advertising will be a significant part of your marketing plan and budget. Advertising costs can range from free to very expensive.
Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R'S)
-Serve all areas of the state: maintains databases on all
regulated child care in their region.
-At no cost to child care providers, parents contacting CCR&R’s receive a list of all regulated child care programs which meet their needs.
-Imprinted, tee shirts, caps, totes, etc.
-Hiring of a new director or teacher
-Staff attendance at a national seminar
-Announcement of a new site or service
-Special activities, unusual field trip
-Free health screening offered at center
-Participate in local parades
-Maintain a booth at a community fair
-Volunteer for a local fund-raising marathon
Other Marketing Ideas
-Invite elected officials to visit
-Invite news media
-High school classes
-Display children’s art in the community
-Offer your space for classes such as Lamaze, LaLeche, or parenting classes
-Partner with technical schools and other training programs
Word-of-mouth recommendation is a powerful vehicle for attracting new clients.
Stimulating Word-of-Mouth Recommendations
-Welcome parents at all times
-Value parents opinions.
-Respond positively to suggestions
-Reward parents who recruit new families
-Include parents in activities and field trips
-Invite parents to lunch
-Display photos of children at play.
-Have evening family events
-Involve staff by helping them:
-Value parents as customers
-Understand the importance of parent partnerships
-Hold parent conferences regularly
-Be sensitive to diverse family structures
-Develop an "alumni" mailing list
-Send an annual newsletter
-Invite to special celebrations
LAST REMARKS ON MARKETING
A successful business has a marketing plan
-What can be done now?
-What can be done in the next six months?
-Plan for next year, for five years from now, and beyond
-Keep attuned to trends and future projections
-CCR&R surveys of supply vs. demand
-Census bureau data
-School district projections based on birth rates and demographics
-Plan pro-actively rather than reactively for the years ahead.
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