Business development

How to attract parents and boost your childcare enrollment

Turn inquiries and prospects into new enrollments
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March 13, 2024
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In a rush? Here's the quick run-down.

  • In early childhood education (ECE), keeping your enrollment up is key to your business success. And that whole process starts with making good first impressions on those initial inquiries.
  • To do that, you should have printed and digital resources ready that offer prospective parents and families a quick summary of the unique qualities of your center.
  • Read on for more marketing tips, and ways to attract and impress parents, so they decide to enroll their child at your childcare center.

Maintaining full occupancy in ECE is an ongoing hurdle. That's why every prospective parent or family is a huge opportunity for your center. Securing a new enrollment means more revenue, and more possibility for positive word-of-mouth. 

So, when you get those curious inquiries, you don't want to be caught off-guard. Having a confident, organized response makes a strong impression with parents, and moves them closer to enrolling their child at your program.

In this article we’re going to go over a couple ways you can better connect with prospective parents and increase your preschool enrollment.

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Marketing tips for childcare centers to attract parents and families

So getting a parent interested is a great first step. That’s half the battle right there.

But, when competing with other childcare providers, you must have a strategy to make parents choose your center over the others.

One way you can stand out is by preparing a package of up to date information to present to the prospective families. You should have this available in both print and digital forms – it should be an simple handout that shows prospects the very best parts of your childcare program. Also, by having a digital version, you can offer to email it to them afterwards, so they don't have to worry about misplacing the handout.

Some things to include might be:

  • Sample lesson plans you're proud of
  • Recent popular events your center has hosted
  • Details on your provisions for a certain age group, like infants or toddlers
  • Short bios on some of your stellar staff
  • Remember, photos are worth a thousand words! Be sure to add as many pictures of the children and teachers actively engaged. 

Basically, any examples of resources and materials that show just how great your childcare center is, and how much preparation and planning goes into everything you do because you care about their children and their development.

All of this will help the parents imagine their own children enrolled at your center and how much educational fun they could be having.

What can also go a long way are parent testimonies from those currently enrolled. Reach out to a particularly dedicated parent or send an email (or post on Famly's Newsfeed) asking all your families if any of them would be willing to submit a testimony.

Once you compile a decent list you can show new prospects who are considering enrollment and they can see for themselves just how much other parents love your child care center. Just like hearing a positive recommendation or word-of-mouth from a freiend, reading positive quotes from parents is one of the best ways to sway prospects who might be on the fence.

Also, here are some other top marketing tips, including the power of social media platforms. By consistently sharing posts and photos, prospective families can get an inside look at how fun, supportive and nurturing your center is at any time. 

A unique selling point makes a great first impression

If you haven’t heard it before, the acronym USP stands for “unique selling point.” 

For your center, this just refers to some special part of your program that makes you stand out from the rest.

This doesn't mean you have to have something completely revolutionary to increase enrollment. But if your center has a special feature, unique curriculum or another distinct resource, then highlighting that can grab a parent's attention.

Here are a couple examples of unique selling points in early education:

  • Montessori curriculum
  • Unique staff training, like special education qualifications
  • A food program with a local co-op or organic farm, or a vegetarian menu
  • Membership or engagement with a national association like NAEYC
  • Bilingual educators, or a multilingual focus
  • Flexible or extended operational hours

The list of potential selling points goes on, but anything that goes beyond the basics is worth noting. After a parent has expressed interest, these are the small things they will be looking for before making a final decision for their child.

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Invested in child development? Shine a spotlight on it

Besides your USP, another way to stand out is to make sure you and your educators are up to date on new studies and trends within early child development. 

There’s constantly new research regarding early learning that comes out and making sure your teachers have access to it is a great way to impress parents. This can mean paying to send your teachers to seminars and workshops, or providing trainings at your center or having access to copies of a new book from a publisher or author you trust.

If you can show parents that investing in your staff, and creating a stimulating environment for children is a priority for you, they will know their children’s education will be top notch. It's an important factor that many centers might overlook, but underlining your pedagogical credentials can really make you stand out.

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Impress families with a childcare management software

Childcare management softwares and apps (like Famly) are becoming more popular because they do not only make things easier for you and your staff, but also for parents.

If your center has one, it is definitely another selling point.

While there are a lot of administrative aspects to early years software, here are some ways you can pitch it to parents:

If you do use software you can have a section of your website that further explains details of the software and direct parents to that, or if you are speaking with them in person you can pull out your phone and walk them through the app.

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You should always follow up with the family

Whether you’re able to speak with a family in person or if you’re only exchanging emails, you should always follow up after the initial engagement.

You may feel like you are being too pushy by reaching out only after one encounter, but showing you care about the family and their child on a personal level could be what they need to make a final decision. Most parents will appreciate your interest. Invite them to visit for a walkthrough, or maybe offer a free session on a slow day — whatever you can do to make a connection, and make them feel like more than just another source of income for you.

Parents are going to have a lot of questions and concerns regarding their child’s education, daily activities and wellbeing. If they have already made the step to reach out and show interest in your center, you should be able to meet their inquiries with answers.

You should be able to offer:

  • Materials, testimonials from other parents and trusted referrals for your program
  • Specific background and qualifications for teachers, especially if you any have unique perspectives or specialize in a specific area
  • A physical handbook that explains policies and procedures
  • A clear and concise mission statement about what you and your center believes in and what your priorities are
  • If your center has been given any accolades or honors for your work

You already know the parents want the service you provide, so if you come to the table with a confident game plan, you can impress those prospects before they lose interest and inquire somewhere else. 

Also if a parent ultimately does decide to enroll elsewhere, don’t hesitate to ask why in a respectful manner. Perhaps it was something your center lacked, or something someone else had. But with that information, you can direct energy and resources, if possible, to bettering your childcare center so the next prospective family won’t get away.

The big ideas

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Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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