Summer break is in full swing. But for childcare owners, that means preparing for the upcoming school year. Reviewing enrollment can ensure you maximize profits and fully extend your services to your community.
But parents won’t request a tour or complete the enrollment forms unless they know you have the space. You need to get the word out there that you’re accepting new students. And while you’re at it, you should develop a waitlist to keep enrollment at capacity throughout the school year and summer months.
Get ideas for increasing fall enrollment to prepare for a great school year.
- Evaluate Your Programs
You can’t start focusing on marketing and community engagement until you’ve ensured the service you offer is the best possible. Take time to evaluate each program to look for opportunities and weaknesses.
Look for opportunities to enhance the educational services you’re providing and track developmental milestones to support education at various ages for your students.
- Check Your Parent Communication Methods
While you hope children are telling their parents about the fun things they’re doing at school and showing off their newfound knowledge, remember that you’re teaching toddlers and young children.
You can’t rely on students to do this work for you. Parent-teacher communication is an essential element of a successful childcare center. Some communication methods include:
- Daily recap
- Developmental milestone tracking
- Quarterly or biannual parent-teacher meetings
- Email newsletter
- Childcare app
Suppose your childcare management software doesn’t support these communication methods or has limited options for showcasing your value to parents. In that case, you should evaluate a new system that will allow you to retain the parents you have before attracting new customers.
- Establish a Waitlist
Before you get too deep into recruiting new students for your childcare center, review your childcare software to see if it supports a waitlist. Having a waitlist can help you keep a list of parents interested in your center so you can contact them when a spot opens for their child.
Parents appreciate the service, and it’s one more way to keep enrollment full year-round. You can choose whether parents need to put a deposit down to join the waitlist or if your waitlist is simply a way of keeping track of who contacted you first about capacity at your center.
- Build a Referral Program
Reaching new families with marketing tactics and demonstrating the value you offer in a quick tour and conversation is challenging. The best way to reach new parents is to establish a referral program where parents enrolled at your school can share information with their friends.
Incentivizing referrals can further encourage this important word-of-mouth advertising. Give parents money off their tuition when a customer they refer enrolls their child. Or provide gift cards to local restaurants.
Regardless of how you incentivize parents to share their experience, make sure the reward is sizable enough to encourage parents to take the time to talk to parents, post reviews, and tell their friends.
- Attend, Host, or Sponsor Community Events
Get involved in your community and become a pillar of support for parents. Attend community events, such as charity 5K runs, festivals, and clinics. Become a sponsor for events that reach your target demographic of parents with young children.
Host events at your center as well so you can invite prospective parents in and show them what you do and how you do it. This also allows parents to interact with the teachers to see if your center is a good fit for their child.
When hosting events, try to host them on evenings or weekends since many parents can’t get away from work during the regular work week.
- Build an Inviting Online Experience and Website
Parents are researching childcare options online more often before ever reaching out to learn more. Eighty-one percent of your target audience is probably conducting online research before contacting you.
Pause and evaluate what they’re finding during that process. You need an inviting and attractive website, but you also want to start doing reputation management by responding to reviews and keeping your social media profiles up to date.
Every online interaction can help prospective parents add you to their list of possible childcare providers when shopping for a program for their child. Interacting with customers online shows how much you care and that you’re willing to find solutions to parents’ challenges.
As you take a hard look at your website, review whether it includes these elements:
- Photos of your facility
- Overviews of your programs
- Information and headshots of your staff
- A clear next step to enroll
- Consider Flexible Care Options
Many childcare owners don’t want the headache of offering part-time or flexible attendance options. But technology has improved over the last several years and can make flexible care seamless.
You won’t have to worry about manually calculating bills when you tie your billing to attendance through childcare software. iCare Software is one of the leading tools for offering flexible hours and attendance while automating billing based on your set flexible rate chart. And if you need to change that rate chart, you have the power to do so.
- Market Your Childcare Center to Increase Enrollment
Finally, you must get the word out about your center and what you offer. Once you have the right pieces in place, you’re ready to start marketing your center to increase fall enrollment. Here’s a look at some of the marketing activities you should be doing.
- Set up social media business pages
- Engage with parents online
- Attend events
- Respond to reviews
- Purchase targeted, local ads on social media
- Consider search engine marketing to pay to be the top result
- Email marketing to enrolled parents, past parents, and prospective parents
- Contact local businesses to become a part of their new employee onboarding information to help parents who are new to the area learn about your childcare center
Ultimately, increasing enrollment for the fall starts with the right tools and technology to delight parents and encourage referrals. iCare Software is a modern system that will help you achieve your goals and engage with parents. Schedule a demo today.