One of the most cost effective ways to increase sales in any business is through customers who act as referrals.  As a daycare provider, using this type of referral source is especially true as parents are often leery of trusting just anyone with their precious child.  However, keep in mind that referrals don’t just happen; they need to be cultivated in a systematic marketing approach.
Customer Satisfaction
Converting a parent into a referral source begins long before you, the daycare provider can ask that parent for a referral.  It must first begin with ensuring complete customer satisfaction that is above and beyond expectations.  That means going the extra-mile and providing extra services when needed.  It also means finding out why a customer is unhappy and fixing the problem.
Database of Clients
As a daycare provider you must also keep careful track of all customers both current and past.  A database can help with that and allows you to track such things as the names and the dates and nature of communications.  For past clients, it’s a good idea to keep the daycare center fresh in the parents’ minds by inviting them back for events and keeping them informed of current happenings.
Ask for referrals
A parent does not just automatically turn into a referral source; they have to be asked.  To begin with, the parent may not know that you are seeking more customers, or they may just not be thinking about it.  As a result, the daycare must be actively seeking referrals by selectively asking those parents who have the most reason to be happy.  They may even want to ask for a testimonial, which is a more public form of acting as a referral.
As a daycare provider you must also keep careful track of every referral source.  This can prove to be useful information when engaging in future marketing campaigns or using a reward system.  A database can be used to record who makes the referral, how many, and the results.  Plus, email marketing systems can make this process easier by embedding a code into emails that allows the information to be tracked.
Reward System
The most critical factor is to implement a reward system.  The day care provider must provide the customers with a reason to go out of their way to drum up business for the center.  Some rewards can simply be recognition through thank you notes or small gifts.  Some reward systems can be more elaborate by providing a point system for referrals that can translate into discounts or perhaps a reward like a parent’s night out.
Ultimately, you the daycare provider must understand that it is not enough to rely on chance to generate referrals.  Instead the center must actively cultivate referrals through superior customer service and boldly asking for them.  You must also keep careful track of the results and implement a reward system to encourage parents to provide the referrals.