We all know by now that “word of mouth” is and always will be the best form of advertising. You can spend all the money in the world on marketing, but nothing sells better than a trusted friend’s recommendation, especially when it comes to childcare.
The childcare business is extremely competitive, so what are some ways you can “one up” parent friends? Here are a few ideas that will get all of your client’s friends jealous that they don’t have their children enrolled at your center.
Send Photos and Videos Throughout the Day
Using a childcare app (I highly recommend the one HiMama offers), upload at least 4 photos each day. Try to make sure some of them are just of the child by him/herself and then a few that are in a group as long as you have photo releases. Add a comment to the photo so that parents know the context.
Try to send a video each day too since parents love being able to back and watch often. Sending this many photos and videos may seem unrealistic, but once you get in a rhythm, it won’t be hard. You can ask your assistant to help with this or even have one of your students (preschool and older) help with taking photos using the class tablet. This can be an assigned job for a student, and they will love it. Be sure to create a unique hashtag and ask parents to use that hashtag when posting any photos on their social media!
Offer Date Nights for Working Parents
Every other month or even once a quarter, have a “date night” where parents can drop their kids off to you from 6-8pm and you can feed them, play with them, and get them in their pj’s for pick up! Parents will love this! If you’re able to offer this for free, then that’s awesome! If not, charge a rate that would be lower than a babysitter. Consider $25 for the first child and $15 for the second child, etc. You can get local pizza restaurants to donate a few pies for this event and even get some people to donate their services like face painting, moon bounces, balloon animals, etc.
Send Meaningful Reports
Don’t just send a generic report where you change the name but everything else stays the same. Trust me – parents will know.
Send meaningful reports that are personalized and meaningful to parents. Make it something that they want to share with others because it’s THAT good. Again, this is something that will take time but well worth the effort. You can explain the activities of the day, but be sure to say something specific about the child. You can even give sample questions/prompts for parents to ask their children at dinner time so that they are not just getting one word answers (e.g. “I see that you learned about clouds today. What kind of clouds did you learn about?”)
Give a Unique Welcome Gift for Every New Enrollment
This can end up being free advertising but also give parents the great first impression that you are intentional in helping them feel welcomed. Some ideas for this welcome gift can be:
- Framed photo of child’s first day
- Onesie or bib that says “I’m new here” with the company’s logo
- USB with favorite songs that are taught in the school
- A parenting book that you love with a personalized inscription
Offer an Incentive for Parent Referrals
Parents are going to want to refer their friends if they love your center, and they will do it for free because they believe in it. But why not reward them? There are many ways to do this, but try to be generous with this gesture. Give a gift card to a nice restaurant, offer a tuition credit, give a cash gift, or let the parents choose what they want!
Something we do at our center is when we find out who referred the family, we give this reward incentive even if the parents are no longer enrolled with us! If families still recommend our center well after their children have graduated, I still want to send the message that we value their relationship with us.
Get Involved in Your Community
Parents like to brag on programs they belong to that are active in the community. Find out what needs there are in the local community near your center, and roll up your sleeves! Offer to have outreach days, and get parents and kids involved. You could do something as simple as create an Amazon wish list and then bring donations to the local shelter. You could go paint a local preschool, clean up a local park, etc. Find out what needs there are and do an outreach project every quarter if you can or at least twice a year. At my center, we now require every family to sign up for at least one outreach project that we sponsor every year as part of their enrollment. Families love making a difference, and this is a great way to get parents to get their friends jealous.
All of the above would surely set you apart as a center and get your clients’ parent friends super jealous and envious of your center. The bottom line is go above and beyond for the customer so that they feel like they are VIP status. You may not do all of the ideas shared, but if you were to implement a few of them and be strategic about how to do these, it will not feel overwhelming. Find out what works best for the culture of your center and put it into practice. Don’t try to do it all at once. Pace yourself and before you know it, all of your parent’s friends will be calling to enroll their kids!
What are some things you do at your center not mentioned above? Post them in the comments!