Make sure parents choose you!
Things are certainly changing as parents begin planning their return to work and equally as childcare providers open up more places, parents are also considering looking at their preferred childcare settings, which means ultimately, viewing your facilities, team and set up through some kind of visits process.
The importance of a visits process cannot be ignored in that it represents the final part of a parent’s journey in their search for the right childcare for them and their child. So everything that attracted them to you in the first place like, your website, social media marketing, referrals from others culminates in one chance to secure their business!
Obviously the pandemic has made normal “show-rounds” difficult but they need to return at some point and until then you are faced with the same challenge of demonstrating your team, attitudes, quality, empathy and childcare facility in such a way to impress parents and ensure they want to bring their child to you.
So the questions we are posing are …
“How much effort and planning do you put into your show rounds or visit process and can you improve it?”
That should be quite easy for you as a team to reflect upon, and is probably underpinned by your ratio of parental enquiries to place take up. If your conversion rate is 80% or higher that is a good result, if you are much lower than that your overall process for securing new customers is letting you down.
[Conversion rate: The proportion of enquiries that result in sales of places, so if you have 10 enquiries and 8 people take up a place you have an 80% conversion rate]
Why is it so important to have a visit process?
The importance you place on doing anything well in life depends how much you want to be successful and get the right outcome, and as the old saying goes ”failing to plan is planning to fail”. So either just let people visit your setting with no thought about their needs and expectations or the outcome that you want, (namely a new customer), or plan for a visit and make it as positive for them and fruitful for you!
Firstly - A good visits process focuses on the quality of your team and facility in every respect.
Secondly - “ATTITUDE” & “EMPATHY” matter! These are two important attributes or potential deal breakers and parents will get a feel for them during a show-round. They are the result of excellent ongoing staff development, so you cannot just change them before a visit, but you are likely to get feedback when parents don’t see good examples in your setting.
Here is a brief process that may help as a structure for developing or improving your own:
1. Arrange an appointment time - Make sure it’s convenient and you can show people round without rushing, giving them your undivided attention!
2. Prepare a greeting - Make sure you have a great way to greet people and make them feel welcome, first impressions count!
3. Plan your actual visit process - Parents are interviewing you essentially! ...So plan out the way you want to show people your setting, play to your strengths but make sure you deal with all their questions. Show off your USP’s. Always be positive, you are selling your services! ... Make sure your potential customers can feel a great attitude and empathy in your setting and let them know you really care.
4. Summary & questions - This is the point where you check back with parents at the end of the visit and give a short summary of your key selling points to make sure you have covered everything. Do it in a quiet area if you can, (NOT by the door or in the middle of a room full of children!) and handle any queries or concerns, (there’s bound to be one or two), so deal with them positively and sensitively, this feedback provides a great opportunity to improve your childcare business too!
5. Show them you want their child, (or in business speak...closing the deal!) - This is where you encourage the customer to take action and choose to use your services. Be sure you have answered all their concerns first. Prepare gentle words to ask for their business and try to get a decision before they leave.
6. Follow up, (and then close the deal!) - It’s natural that not everyone will want to commit straight away, so if they can’t then respect their space and agree to call them in a few days to see if they have any other queries or are ready to commit.
The follow up is crucial for 2 reasons. Firstly, it gives you a second chance to sell your services and secondly if the parents don’t choose your setting they may at least give you feedback as to why not, allowing you an opportunity to improve on things for future visits!
Let’s hope we can make this year a success and get back to enjoying what we do!
If you would like support at any point, please do contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org