I have to admit when I started working in child care management, I was by no means an expert. First of all, I was 24 and hired in my role with no real management experience. Second, I had no one with experience to assist me through this process. And third, I wasn’t a parent at the time, and this seemed to affect the rapport I had with the families.
What I did know was customer service. I had experience working in restaurants, a hardware store (when I was 16), and catering weddings and events. At the time they just seemed like another job, however, I found that they would play a major role in my success as a director.
There are many aspects to consider when looking at the management of a child care center. Although today, I’m going to focus on one that I have found many centers fall short on. Yes, I’m speaking about the follow-up process of new interest, and if this is a weakness for you, I am here to help you change that.
Taking into consideration my background in customer service and my knowledge in the child care world after five years in management, I put together a list of items to help you process new interest at your center.
This is the list I used to grow my center from 25-160 children. At this time, I could no longer manage all the business side of things by myself, and I had to hire an admin team to assist. Although you are probably thinking lucky me, please know that it is challenging to hand over tasks that you do well, to someone else.
Here is the checklist that I created for my team members, you may decide to change a few items, and please translate it to your center’s context, but overall the process will not fail you, I promise!
1. Initial Contact:
- Usually, this is through an incoming phone call or the website
- Add all new contacts to the spreadsheet
2. Follow Up
- If you don’t hear back within three days, follow up with a phone call
- If you don’t hear back in another three days, follow up with another email
- At this point, if no contact is made, make a note on their file
- Follow up with old contacts every two months
3. Set Up A Tour
- Send a calendar invite to the new interest with the tour information
- Send confirmation a day before the tour (this will limit your no show %)
- Execute a well planned tour with the parents
4. Capture Enrollment
- The key is to enroll a family on the tour if you can
- Make enrolling as easy as possible (online enrollment)
5. After The Tour
- Send follow up email the same day of the tour (confirming enrollment or giving information on how to enroll)
- Send online enrollment link
7. Welcome Email
- Include all new child information and cc classroom teacher
8. Phone Call
- Make sure they are all set to go for their child’s first day
Out of the whole list, I think the most important aspect is timing. You will notice on many items listed above there is a timeframe included. You may have heard of the saying “strike while the iron is hot,” well, it’s true in the child care business too. Timing is EVERYTHING! If you don’t respond to a new interest email the same day, they will call somewhere else. And if you don’t follow up a center tour with an email, there is a chance they will forget about you.
If you are serious about growing your business, you must take the follow up process very seriously. You can have a beautiful campus and amazing teachers, but if you don’t follow up with your prospective families, this may result in low enrollment numbers and stunt your potential growth.
Stay tuned as I continue to share more ideas on childcare center management and growth. If you have any questions, comments or topic ideas I would love to hear from you!
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