Are you truly and accurately tracking the enrollment in your child care business? You might be thinking, “I’m already using a CRM or some kind of childcare management system to track my enrollment.” But enrollment tracking is much more than just tracking the physical enrollments you have.
Why Track Enrollment?
Of course, the obvious reason to track your enrollment is to know how much revenue you have coming in and how many empty spaces you have. But, believe it or not, there are many more benefits to accurately tracking your enrollment than that. Taking the time to pay attention to your enrollment numbers and look at their trends allows you to predict the growth and needs of your business and identify the gaps in it that you need to focus on.
Picking Up Your Money Off the Table
Let’s say you have 85 children enrolled and your capacity is 100, so you have a 15 child gap. Then you need to determine what your average monthly value or tuition is for one child. For this example, I’m using $800. Take those 15 spots times $800 a month, and that comes out to $12,000 a month that you’re leaving on the table. What could you do with an additional $12,000 a month in your program?
Tracking enrollment also helps you predict your future hiring needs. You know when children are moving up, when you’ll have space available in a classroom, and when you’ll need to hire more teachers. Keep in mind that it normally takes six weeks to recruit and hire someone. You need to be projecting ahead now.
This is where customer service and tracking a lead all the way from when it comes into the end of the process becomes so important. You want to make sure that any lead goes into your enrollment tracking system immediately. It could be a formal system or it could be a spreadsheet, but it is definitely not a sticky note. All of the customer contact information needs to go into your system. Knowing what information to put in there and getting it all in is going to allow you to get those slots full.
How do you get their information to follow up? Is there a system? At a minimum, you need to get their name, email, and phone number. It’s also helpful to know the ages of the children and their anticipated start date. After that, think about who takes the calls and who gives the tours. Is this role clearly defined and have those people been trained? Lastly, how do you follow up?
What you’re looking for are gaps in your process from the initial inquiry onward. There need to be processes and procedures for every step of the processes that lead a customer through your sales funnel.
Ways to Track Enrollment
There are a couple of different ways you can track enrollment and leads. You can use a formal CRM system or you can use a spreadsheet. The important thing is identifying the process that will work best for your business model.
So let’s look at a couple of CRM systems. Childcare CRM and IntelliKids are two that are designed for childcare centers. Active Campaign is a basic CRM system that allows you to design your campaigns. It’s not specifically designed for childcare, but it works just as well. Systems vary in price, so if you’re looking into one, do your due diligence and make sure it’s going to perform the way you want it to. The CRM will take the inquiries from your website and send out your email drip campaign for you. All you need to do is follow up, conduct tours, and get the enrollment.
However, there is nothing wrong with the spreadsheet. The important thing is that you’re writing down that customer information somewhere and keeping track of it.
As we all know, enrollment can change without notice, so having a waitlist means you’re prepared. Just because you’re full right now in a room or in your center doesn’t mean you’ll be full tomorrow, and you want to be prepared to fill that slot immediately so there are no gaps in your revenue.
Keep your waitlist engaged with your program. Send them your monthly newsletter. Invite them to events. Check in with them regularly so they remember who you are. A family might be on the waitlist at several centers and you want to stand out.
Projecting Future Enrollment
The goal is to never have gaps in your enrollment. When one family leaves, you want to have an immediate enrollment or payment in lieu of enrollment until the new family starts. If someone has given a two-week notice and you contact the first family on your waitlist but they can’t start for three weeks, it’s okay to say, “Well, the space will open in two weeks, so we need you to go ahead and pay for that space until you need it, or we’ll have to move to the next person on the list.” Remember, you want to have no money left on the table and no gaps in your enrollment.
The goal with all of this is to have a financially sound and thriving business that you can work ON rather than IN. Understanding why you need to track your enrollment, knowing how and where to generate leads, establishing how your business is going to track enrollment, having a waitlist, and having the ability to project future enrollment is what will allow your business to thrive.