Communicating the benefits of your program to parents who might use your services is much more than just advertising. It requires ongoing promotion and thoughtful planning. Below is a list of ideas to get you started.
Build a professional business image by creating the right look for your business. Once you’ve decided your logo, colors and typeface, put it on everything: business cards, letterheads, webpage, etc.
Besides using our child care resource and referral service, most families use word-of-mouth as their primary means of finding child care. To encourage people to promote your business, you can talk to your currently enrolled families, talk to people in the community about your service, get exposure through fieldtrips with the children and give your program and logo exposure through your business cards, brochures, website, magnetic van sign, fieldtrip t-shirts, etc.
Use professional phone skills.
Make sure your phone messaging box is never to full to receive messages – families won’t call back. If your ringtone plays music, make sure it has family-friendly lyrics. When potential clients call for information about your program, have a practiced, positive message to give them. Always return calls whether you have openings or not; marketing your program never stops. Your first conversation with a parent sets the stage for your future relationship, and may determine whether or not they are interested in an interview and will pass your name on to other potential clients.
Once you’ve set up an interview time, have your materials ready and a plan in place. Have copies of your contract and policies, and any enrollment forms you use. Give a tour, have a list of questions to ask them, and be ready to answer any they have. Keep your questions open-ended, so you give them opportunity to talk and offer a better chance to get to know them. “Tell me about your previous care experiences,” or “What are the top three things you are looking for in a child care program?” are questions that encourage parents to share, and let you know if your program and their priorities are a good match. Remember that some questions from families are based on fears; some may have had negative experiences, or are struggling with limited resources. Acknowledging this helps you feel less defensive and better able to answer clearly and professionally.
Select the right clients.
Just like good word-of-mouth helps, bad word-of-mouth can cause damage. Choose clients that fit well with your program. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, or incorporate program changes you suspect won’t last just to attract business. Keep the needs of the child foremost in your mind, and consider whether or not a relationship with a family has good potential. If there are warning signs from the start, encourage families to continue interviewing until they find a program with the best fit for their child and their family’s needs.
Visit our resource library and check out a book or two on the topic of marketing your child care business. You can’t put into practice what you don’t know! Books to consider are:
“From Babysitter to Business Owner” by Patricia Dischler
“Family Child Care Business Guide,” by Tom Copeland, JD
“Family Child Care Marketing Guide,” by Tom Copeland, JD
“On-Target Marketing Promotion Strategies for Child Care Centers Child Care Information Exchange” by Julie Wassom
“Dollars and Sense Planning for Profit in Your Child Care Business” by Janet Bush