As someone who has just come from the world of early childhood education and is now working offsite for Sandbox, what I miss the most is the human interaction. This week I had the privilege of visiting one of our Sandbox centers. This not only reminded me how much I love people, but also the importance of being connected to your customers.
When I walked into the center, I immediately wanted to walk the halls, visit the classrooms and hear all about the management of the center. The nice part of my role at Sandbox, is that I get to do all of those things and more! Today I am going to talk about the importance of staying connected to the customer. As you can see, that is a huge part of my job and really, what I love the most!
When you are developing your business, it is important to remain closely connected to your customers. In the preschool and early childhood education field, you might think that it’s easy, but at times it can be difficult. Often as a Director, I would get too busy with the tasks of the day that I would forget to connect. So today we are going to explore a few ways to intentionally connect with your parents on a regular basis.
- Welcome your Families Daily: The best way to stay connected to the families in your center is by being available. One way I did this was by greeting the families each morning when they entered into the center. Families loved that I was there to talk and connect with them. By doing this, I showed parents that I was open and willing to build and maintain a relationship with them.
- Coffee with the Director: This is a great way to connect with families in your center. Once a month, host a “coffee with the director” event. Just have a few pots of coffee and cookies in the lobby during drop off. This encouraged families to stick around and it’s a chance to get to know them each individually.
- Host a Monthly Event: The school I led hosted a chapel once per month. What I loved about this was it was a great opportunity for families to come into the center and see their children interacting in their classes. We provided coffee and cookies for the parents and the kids sang songs and learned a short story. Your center might not host a chapel, but try and find a way to invite your families into your center and use this time to connect.
- Personalized Email/Social Media Connection: When you sending mass emails to your center and a parent responds back, write them a personalized response, “I saw Jack yesterday having fun at recess, how is he liking school?”. Let families know you are interested in their children and in return they will start opening up to you. This personalization will make all the difference in the world.
- Ask for Feedback: Asking families for feedback is a great way to see how you are doing. Are your methods of operation effective and are you successfully maintaining relationships with parents? Send out a review every 6 months or so and act on the responses. I always tried to model our center around the customer and their feedback. If we saw a common theme on our reviews, we did our best to accommodate them and adjust our center.
I am going to assume if you have been a director for a while, that you are already following a few items on the list. If you can find one item that you aren’t currently doing, try starting it soon. What do you have to lose? If you are a customer focused center, you will notice your school environment will start to change. You’ll spend less time in the office and more time with your families and team. Try it out and let us know how it goes!