Touring New Interest at Your Center
fter working as a center director for five years, I would often wonder if touring families was a full time job. During the busy seasons, which for us were September and January I would tour 4-5 families per day through our school. Although tours can feel very exhausting when you are giving them often, they are so important.
Tours are best done by the center director, but can also be done by a well trained office staff. Below we are going to explore the topics of; group vs. personal tours, what works best in tour packets, what is the teacher’s role during a tour and why to point out key safety features. It’s my hope that you and your team can take one or two ideas and bring them to your center or school.
Group vs. Personal
When in the midst of a busy tour season I would always dream of doing group tours. I decided one year we would try this idea out for our school age after school families. We pre-set a few tours times over a few week period and when families arrived they would all tour the center together. Great idea huh? Well, not so much in the end.
The group tours that I led over those few weeks had little fruit. They were rushed, not personal and often even hectic. In the end of the day I decided that personal tours led to better connection, more one on one time and were much more personal. Even though they took more of my time, which as a director you don’t have much of, it was time well spent developing relationships with families who would become apart of our center family.
Creating a Tour Schedule
Having a well thought out tour schedule makes all the difference in the world. Yes, you will give a different tour every time you give one, these are personal don’t forget, but a good schedule will help lead the way and ensure that main topics are covered each time.
Below is a schedule I created for our center. Each centers schedule will be different, but I am hoping that this list will help you to generate some ideas with topics to include in your schedule. It is also nice to have the schedule pre-set in case you are sick and have someone take over for you, this way it is all ready to go!
1. Arrival at the facility
a. Greet family at the front desk
b. Offer them water or coffee
2. Check-in and out processes
a. Time clock
b. Locked front doors
c. Camera systems
3. Show the family the classrooms
b. Enrichment Classes
c. Class Schedule
d. Introduce to the teacher
4. Show the family the outdoor play areas
a. Playgrounds (3 onsite)
b. Garden Areas
c. Nature Walks
a. Special events
b. Calendar schedule
a. Enrollment packet
b. Give them a chance to enroll
c. Explain how to enroll online after tour (if need)
Any time a new family is entering your center it is nice to have something to hand out to them. At our center I created enrollment packets. The items kept in these packets were pretty basic, but it was perfect to give a family on a tour. Families loved to take these home especially if their spouse wasn’t able to attend the tour, it gave them a small piece of the tour to take home and share.
Below is a list of items kept in the tour packets, take a look and see if there are any ideas to add to your current packet.
- Classroom Schedule
- School Calendar
- Snack Calendar
- Enrollment Packet (forms)
- Program Information Overview
If your center is anything like mine was, you may have teachers who have no idea what their role is when a touring family comes around. After a few years I created a basic email that I sent out to my teaching staff. This helped them understand the purpose of the tour and their role. Take a look:
As you know, we tour families around the school almost daily. This is the best way for families to see our program in full swing and to see if it is a good fit for their family. YOU are a huge part in this puzzle and we can ONLY do what we do with your help.
What to expect when a tour comes around:
- Families will be escorted into the classroom and play areas by a leadership staff member.
- Children may want to engage in your activities (or they won’t), encourage them to.
- We will do our best to stay for 3-5 minutes.
What to have ready:
- Have your bulletin board updated with current information.
- Printed copies of your class schedule
- Printed copies of your class newsletter
- Printed copies of your Spanish newsletter
- Curriculum notebook (a sample of your curriculum or a child’s ABC book in progress, these are always the best to show parents).
- Any other information you feel would be helpful for parents to see or take.
Your role in a tour:
- Greet families! Welcome them and say “Hello”, and if you have time, introduce yourself by name (if you are doing circle time, just wave, no need to stop your activity).
- Ask the child’s name – this is a great way to connect with the family in the short time available.
- Smile; a smile goes a long way.
I get compliments each tour about how amazing our facility is and how friendly our staff is. Sometimes we forget because we don’t visit other schools on a regular basis, but not all schools are like ours. We DO have an awesome facility and a friendly staff. Thanks for all you do to make our school such an awesome place for families.
Don’t forget to name your teachers role in the tour and to thank them for the role they play. Teachers do make the school what it is and we need to honor that, this email is a great way to do that, while educating them as well.
Why Safety on a Tour
If I have learned one thing it is that parents care about the safety of their child more than anything. If you fail to mention your centers policies and actions around safety in a tour, you are missing a huge selling point.
At our center our key safety features were our check in system, camera monitoring and our locked facility policies. When touring a family I would always point out each of these systems along the way. Families loved that our check-in system (sandbox time clock) was easy to use and had safety features including a secure passcode for each person on the pick up list. Our camera monitoring system (watch me grow) allowed parents to monitor their children throughout the day, parents loved this. Last, we maintained a locked facility. The only access to our building was locked. This was a huge peace of mind to families.
When touring a family don’t forget to point out the many ways that you and your team keep their kids safe each day. It is a big deal to leave your 2,3 or 4 year old with someone you don’t really know. It’s the most simply safety policies and practices that can ease a parents mind.
Tours are such an import part of our job as directors in the childcare field. I hope that this blog will encourage you to take the time and energy to plan and prepare for your next tour. A tour is not only a way to sell your program, but a great way to start that lasting connection with the families in your center. Families want connection; take the time, be prepared and connect with each family your tour.