We have lots of questions from childcare providers around how to increase occupancy to ensure their setting is full and sustainable. Usually they ask this question when their numbers are low, which is sometimes too late to prevent financial issues, but the main source of their trouble is more often the lack of any regular marketing, ......no wonder they don't have a full setting!
What leads to this situation? ....Well the standard response we encounter is "parents come to us through word of mouth.... so we don't need to do any marketing!"
So here is your first false sense of security!
Parents may well hear about you from others locally, but only by KNOWING that this is the trigger which makes them choose to bring their child to you, can you be confident of filling places through this method alone.
A second complacency....
How did parents actually FIRST hear about you? .....It is highly likely that they have seen your online presence before they get to personal referrals from others, as the research around parents shows that the majority of them will search online first for childcare, (or not.... if you are not easily visible online!....read: website, Facebook, Twitter etc..)
What this demonstrates is that by understanding your customer preferences and habits you can figure out how to best reach them, but also it shows that the process of conversion, (or customer journey), from searching to taking up a place, is different according to how parents first become aware of your setting. For example some parents may search online, compare settings, shortlist and then call you, others may request a visit immediately, some will message you on Facebook!
So what do we mean by a "conversion process" .........
This is the process you have for converting parental enquiries into actual enrolment of children into places. This process is something you consciously map out by understanding how parents "engage" with you and the routes they take on their journey to finding a place. Once you know how customers find you, then the key is to recognise where the trigger points / decision points / action points are in the process as these allow you an opportunity to encourage parents to take the next step along the path, .........after all,..... not all parents will take a place just because you are there, they may need convincing or reassuring and this is not something that happens automatically. A critical trigger point is the visit to your setting where you can really show people what you are all about, so what do you need to do to achieve this in your process? (click to see our recent post on customer visits)
Essentially if you want to increase your take up, OR keep it at a high level, you must recognise that parents will enter this process from different start points whether online or referrals from others and use that to your advantage.
Why not work through our detailed 3 step guide on how to set up your own conversion process which will ensure your take up, (or as it is also known), "conversion rate", is as good as it can be!
You can find it in our RESOURCES page under "Marketing"
......many happy conversions :)