So far, this school year has probably felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the previous year – enrollments are trending upwards, processes are gradually returning to normal, and slowly but surely people are starting to return to work, and you have a new sea of potential teachers to market to.
While this taste of normalcy is allowing your center to begin to fill up again and thrive, for your school to continue to thrive and grow, you must remember not to lose sight of the reason families made the choice to enroll their children with you in a pre-pandemic world; your parent experience. The quality level of your parent experience can be the determining factor in whether or not parents decide to enroll with you, so you must place emphasis and resources on making sure it is a high-quality, well-maintained, and engaging one.
While there are many little touches that all of us incorporate into our schools that make us unique, to help ensure that you are covering the most important basics, I have created a list of five important pieces of the parent experience that you need to remember to stay on top of at all times.
1. Create/Update Your Facebook Business Page
Chances are you already have a Facebook business page for your school(s), but if you’ve been neglecting it over the past few months it’s time to show it some love. As with most marketing efforts, consistency is key on Facebook. If you haven’t been consistently posting to your page this year yet, create a content calendar and stick to it (especially through the fall enrollment season going forward). Any major announcements that you want parents to know, such as how many available spots are left or a message from the owner about how your school is going the extra mile to follow health and safety protocols can get pinned to the top so visitors see it right away, and doesn’t get lost in your feed.
Take a look at your “About” section and make sure your contact information/website link is up to date so you’re easily reachable. When was the last time you updated your profile picture and cover photo? Swap them out with fresh, fun, high-quality photos that captivate the energy of your school that will grab the attention of parents right away when visiting your page. Have a special tuition offer that you’re advertising? Create an attention-grabbing graphic (1200 by 628 px) and post it under “Offers,” and fill out all the accommodating info that is required.
2. Work at Getting a Few New Online Reviews
Because 84% of people today trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (Bright Local, 2019), your marketing plan should include strategies to always be collecting new reviews and testimonials. And COVID-19 has only elevated the importance of online reviews.
Right now, people are more cautious than ever before to test out new businesses that they are not familiar with. The best thing you can do to convince unfamiliar parents to schedule a tour with you is to ask your existing families that you’ve been able to “WOW” throughout navigating the pandemic to provide you with a Google or Facebook review of their positive experience.
3. Designate a Team Member to Stay Glued to the Phone
Don’t let your marketing dollars and energy go to waste by letting enrollments slip through the cracks because no one is answering your phone. When you don’t answer the phone you are missing out on the opportunity to provide a “wow” first impression and giving the person on the other end of the line a reason to quickly dismiss your school and move on to call the next. The best of all scenarios is to have your phone answered within three rings by a human being who is trained and sounds cheerful, professional, and knowledgeable, AND – most important of all – is following a phone script.
*If you’re seriously about creating a phone script that will help you to significantly gain more enrollments, be sure to click here to check out this Youtube video of me presenting from the Summit stage on how to do so!
4. Address the Five Senses
First impressions are make or break in this industry, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Right now parents are going to be extra attentive to how squeaky clean your school is because of the new COVID-19 health and safety concerns. During your tours, you MUST make sure you are taking all 5 senses into account – smell, sight, sound, taste, touch – as part of making a fantastic initial first impression. It will be money well worth spending right now to schedule in extra cleaning hours throughout the week to ensure that you never fall short in this area.
5. Set Up/Optimize Your Drip Campaigns
At any point when visiting your website, parents need to be provided with an immediate, easy way that they can contact you. You can do this by setting up an online inquiry form on your website that allows parents to submit any questions they may have or to schedule a tour. Within the Child Care Success Academy, we continuously see more and more centers even setting up a SMS text scheduling system and drip campaign – it’s all able making the process as easy as possible for parents!
This form should collect their basic contact information, such as their name, child’s age, phone number, and – most importantly – their email address. This will allow you to respond to their message, follow up with them, and continue to send them news about your school. And the cool thing is that most of this can be done through setting up automated email responders in your CRM.
Whether you already have drip campaigns set up or are working on setting up new ones for this school year still, now is the time to freshen up the copy and graphics and test the sequences for accuracy.