We hate to say it. We hate to even use the term. But when it comes to childcare, competition is stiff, especially for home providers. Here are some ways on how to increase enrollment in a preschool.
Not only are you facing competition from national providers with brand name recognition and marketing campaigns, you’re facing competition from other home providers. It may not seem like it, since home providers are generally pretty supportive of one another. But deep down, we all know we have to market ourselves. Brand ourselves. Stand out from one another in a crowd.
It shouldn’t have to be this way. But sometimes, things are tough. And with 2.2 million Americans currently working in childcare, it’s an unpleasant fact. Some home providers have had to shut down due to a lack of enrollment.
It’s no longer enough to be certified as an early education specialist. It’s no longer enough to be a caring provider. And sadly, it’s not enough to simply take a deep and impassioned interest in the development of your students. You need to market. You need to discover what other childcare providers are doing right—and more importantly, what they’re doing wrong. And sometimes, yes… you need to rebrand just to survive.
Ways to increase enrollment in a preschool
Like it or not, childcare can be a market. But what if you’re not a home provider? What if you have a small but dedicated licensed daycare facility that’s facing a decline in enrollment? What are some of the ways in which you can boost interest from parents? If you’re currently running a preschool program and need to increase enrollment, here are a few tips.
1. Your Staff, Your Life Line
You can have the most innovative play sets. An immaculate facility. And a wall full of certifications. But without caring, considerate and nurturing staff? It’s all for nothing.
Your students interact with your staff in ways that impact their lives profoundly, and every consideration to ensure they’re responsive, properly trained and capable of establishing a deep rapport with your students should be made. In fact, the single most important factor to the success of your preschool program is your dedicated staff. Parents look for educators who are capable of providing a hands-on, individual approach towards child development. And children react more positively to a role model capable of inspiring trust.
Because it’s not just parents relying on your staff. It’s your students.
2. Carve Yourself A Niche
There’s an old adage that’s been resurrected in both business and personal lives: “do what you know.” And not only is it definitely applicable to childcare, it’s fundamental.
If you don’t have any experience with infants (or conversely, preschoolers), don’t announce yourself as accepting all ages. Because child development is so specialized, you may find yourself over your head. By offering programs that are targeted to specific ages, you’re focusing on one particular stage of development. That’s your expertise. That’s your niche.
But it doesn’t have to be confined to age. You could develop a drop-in program, an early morning program, a play-based program, a faith-based program… anything that will highlight your specialty and your services.
3. Marketing Without Tears
Marketing doesn’t have to be a dull, lifeless affair or daily email blasts which inevitably find their way into a parent’s spam filter. It can be as simple as establishing a social media page on Twitter or Facebook, proactively communicating with parents and other childcare professionals on online forums, speaking at mothers’ support groups about challenges they might expect raising their kids… anything that helps you develop your own voice.
Nor does it have to be expensive. There are web-hosting services available for as low as $5 a month to help you develop a professional site which can be easily updated, with simple but effective templates. And in the long run, $5 a month is less than what you may already be paying on developing printed brochures.
4. Who’s Moving To The Neighborhood?
Marketing and demographics go hand in hand. And in childcare, your demographic is your immediate neighborhood.
Sometimes, a lull in enrollment can be due to a decrease of parents with age-appropriate children in the area. Consider targeting your efforts on neighborhoods close by—particularly if child care resources are limited. Ask current parents if they have a neighbor who might be interested (if they haven’t referred them already).
Facebook in particular often has neighborhood specific groups and resources for new and existing residents (check with your moderator first before offering any commercial service, however).
5. Be Proactive In Communication
Communication isn’t simply a mere formality. It’s what establishes a lasting relationship with parents. And in order to communicate effectively, you need to be active. But communication isn’t just alerting parents about any potential problems or emergencies that may arise. It can be anything from providing daily reports of a child’s progress, to developing an incentive or discount program. Weekly newsletters, complete with photos and/or videos, can be a great way to allow parents an inside look at the comings and goings of your facility.
The point is to take initiative, and personalize your communication. No one wants to read a cut and paste email or a dry and lifeless weekly newsletter. Make your communications fun. Irreverent. Silly. Profound. But lend them a human voice.
And that voice? That’s the key to establishing trust. And trust is the foundation of your employment.
For more helpful information on marketing your childcare services, please feel free to contact us or visit Local Child Care Marketing.