We spend a lot of time and effort getting the phones to ring at our school and getting families to come in to tour. That is why once we get those families in the door we owe it to ourselves to make sure they are provided with a WOW experience that makes them feel excited and eager by the end of the tour to register their child at your school.
To create a WOW experience for families touring your school, there are five key phases of a tour that every school should make sure they have covered from start to finish of the tour. Once you put these tour best practices to use, you will be amazed to see how smoothly every tour goes, how much more confident you become when closing, and how many more enrollments you generate.
1. First Impressions and the Greeting
Even though parents aren’t in the doors of your school yet, their tour starts when they pull into the parking lot. Right away they will observe the curb appeal of your school.
Questions to reflect on: Does it look run down outside and need a fresh coat of paint. Does your playground look secure and clean? Do you have inviting features such as updated signage and landscaping?
If your school looks visually unappealing right from the start, more than likely, those parents won’t even get out of their car and go up to the door, resulting in some of your mysterious no shows.
If parents are initially satisfied with the curb appeal of your school and walk in the doors they should immediately be greeted with a warm welcome. It would be ideal to be for the person giving the tour to be waiting for them upon their arrival time to greet not only the parents but to also personally greet the child if they are present to help make them feel comfortable and start building trust among the group.
From the second a family walks in the door you should have incorporated factors that appeal to their five senses that will begin to formulate a “wow” experience for them.
Questions to reflect on: Does it smell clean? Does it look clean? Does it feel bright and inviting? Is there soft music playing in the background? Have you offered them any sort of refreshments such as fruit infused water or tea from a beverage station? Do you have parent testimonials available anywhere for them to read? Have you provided the child with an activity or snack to keep them occupied during the tour?
By appealing to their five senses right away, parents will start to feel relaxed and comfortable and some of their anxiety of being in a new place will start to slowly drift away. Then you will be able to dig deeper into what they are truly looking to gain for their family and child from attending your school.
To truly break down the walls of parents and discuss their concerns and discover how you can provide them with the care they are looking for, provide them with a parent questionnaire at the beginning of the tour. It should cover basic contact information (which you should already have filled out for them if you collected it during their initial phone call) and questions about what they are looking for from their child care provider.
Questions to include: What goals do you have for your child developmentally? Does your child have any special needs or considerations you would like to share with us? What aspects of a child care experience are the most important to you?
If you are still unsure of what types of questions you should be including in your parent questionnaire, an entire done for you questionnaire (just pop your branding on it) is available in our Enrollment Boot Camp.
2. Pre-Tour Conversation: “Rapport & Discover”
Use that parent questionnaire to create a conversation with parents. Once you discover what their concerns and needs are, use them as touchpoints throughout the tour. Incorporate your unique features and benefits into your explanation while you are addressing their concern or how you can meet their need.
Questions to reflect on: Do you know what the difference is between your unique features and your unique benefits? What are some things that make you stand out against the local competition that you can discuss?
As the conversation builds and you believe that the family will be a good fit for your school, let them know what your school’s core values are. This will assure parents that they are making the right decision for their child by putting them in the care of a team that they can align themselves with.
3. The Tour Itself
Make sure you have a plan of action or a tour checklist for you to follow for your tour and that your teachers are prepared for you to walk in on them.
Questions to reflect on: Do you know what features of your school you will highlight to parents during your tour? Do you have any fun activities planned in the classrooms for that day that you can show children engaging in? Do you allow your teachers to interact with parents during the tour?
You will always want to let your lead teachers know when families will be touring so they are expecting you to interrupt their class. This ensures that every parent and child is greeted by the teacher upon entering the classroom and classrooms are tidy. Offer to take over that teacher’s classroom for a few minutes so they are provided with an opportunity to formally introduce themselves and engage with the family. Not only does doing this provide a parent-teacher connection in the classroom, but it allows you to show parents that you are also capable of stepping in and taking over whatever task is at hand. Tip: As the family leaves the classroom, help mold the parent’s decision by having your teachers say “I can’t wait for Jonny to be in my class, when are you thinking his first day will be?”
4. The Close
Although I’m sure you were perceived as this throughout the entire tour, it is especially crucial to be genuine and enthusiastic when closing a tour. Closing is often intimidating but it is crucial if you want to fill your empty spaces and it can only be mastered through practice.
Here are some techniques that will help you nail your close:
- When you enroll (assumption): This technique creates a sense of scarcity is a technique you can use to handle the objection, we don’t want you to lose your spot register today and I can waive your fee.
- If you enroll today (motivation/incentive) give them your No Risk offer we have a 100% money-back guarantee
- I understand how you feel – reiterate the No risk offer. Give a special offer $10 off weekly tuition each week for a year! What date will you be starting?
- Once you use a closing statement it is a Best Practice to STOP TALKING. This is hard to do, asking for a sale is uncomfortable at first but you will get used to it. People feel the need to fill the silence, Do not talk first!
Questions to reflect on: What are some of the possible objections that you typically hear from parents? Do you have a statement ready to counter their objection to help guide them into saying “yes” today? Do you have a time-sensitive, special offer that you can advise them to act quickly upon?
5. Follow-Up After the Tour
Never get discouraged by a family that doesn’t register their child that day or comes off an uninterested. There is still hope for them to register from your follow-up. You might think that you have already invested so much time in your marketing to get them on the phone and through the door and planning out the perfect tour, but following up is surprisingly the easiest part. Following up doesn’t require much time or money at all and the worst-case scenario at the end of it is that the family still doesn’t enroll but at least you can say that you tried.
Following up can be as simple as sending a thank you email or card for touring. Although sending emails is free and easy to do, I always advice to go just one small step further and send out a personalized thank you card via snail mail. With all of the bills and junk mail we get every day, receiving a handwritten card in the mail is guaranteed to put a smile on parents face and makes them reflect on how genuine and caring your school is. Tip: Send Out Cards is a company that allows you to automate individually addressed and handwritten font greeting cards. The site allows you to pick 4-5 greeting cards that will help with your snail mail auto drip campaign!
I hope that sharing these five phases of a tour helps you to identify any missing pieces in your tour process and has inspired you to reevaluate your tour checklist.
Please share in the comments below any other unique and WOWing aspects of the tour checklist at your school!