Was your most recent online review written two years ago? Or, worse yet, are you still waiting for your first one?
We aren’t being dramatic when we say the future of your childcare center hinges on your reviews. In this blog post, we’ll talk about why that is and share five creative ways you can get more (or your first) positive reviews for your school!
Why Childcare Center Reviews Matter
Before parents come in for a tour, they want to learn everything there is to know about your business. After all, they’re deciding who to trust with their most prized possession, and the decision won’t be made lightly.
Prospective parents will comb through everything: your website, your social media, and especially your online reviews, which is how they’ll check for recent referrals and references.
Regarding online reviews, Google recently made a change to its “top-rated” filter. Previously, when someone used the “top-rated filter” to search for “childcare near me,” Google curated the top results to include businesses rated 4.0 and above. Now, Google’s “top-rated” businesses include only those rated 4.5 and above.
Does this mean a 4.3 rating is terrible? Not at all. It simply means that when parents select the “top-rated” filter, businesses with a 4.4 and under won’t appear in their search results, meaning only the best of the best will attract these new clients.
When parents need peace of mind that their children will be safe and cared for, nothing does the trick quite like a 4.8-star Google rating. That said, it’s also important to have enough reviews to lend confidence to the rating. If you’re sporting a 4.8 off of just two reviews, parents may not feel satisfied that they’re getting the full picture.
On that note, outdated reviews, no matter how positive they are, are just as bad for your business as terrible reviews. New reviews reflect the current climate of your school. They let prospective clients know what’s going on within your walls and explain how parents feel about your business and staff.
The Dangers of Asking for Reviews
With the importance of updated reviews in mind, some childcare centers incentivize parents to leave reviews by a certain date. There are two problems with this approach: the incentive and the deadline.
If you give people a deadline, chances are most will wait until the last possible minute to do what you asked. Google and other platforms don’t like it when businesses receive a huge influx of reviews at once. Your business will be penalized for it, even if the reviews are good.
Secondly, you have to be extremely careful about how you incentivize people to leave reviews. If, someday, a client becomes unhappy with your business, they might leave a follow-up review claiming they were incentivized to leave the previous positive review — and that doesn’t look good.
Another situation to be wary of is asking employees to leave reviews. This can be perfectly acceptable as long as the employee has children of their own involved and is being honest about their experience. However, if the employee becomes disgruntled sometime in the future, they may leave a negative review claiming they were asked to leave the original review.
It’s also imperative that you understand each review platform’s guidelines and algorithms. For example, Yelp won’t immediately accept reviews from anyone who’s new or not active. These reviews will end up in a sort of limbo called “the non-recommended section.”
It’s frustrating for business owners when excellent reviews get trapped where no one can see them
Creative Ways to Ask Parents for Reviews
Fortunately, there are five creative ways childcare center owners can ask for reviews without risking the aforementioned pitfalls.
Method #1: Milestones
Milestones, such as a graduation or the completion of a program, are the perfect times to ask for a review from a parent, especially if there’s a lovely milestone party! Take some photos, and when you share them, let the parent know you’d be grateful for a review.
Another milestone many business owners forget to bookmark are the six-week and three-month increments after a child has started. When a new student starts at your school, put a reminder on the calendar to ask for a review from the parent at those intervals — as long as they’re happy, of course!
Method #2: Special Teachers
If a parent expresses happiness with a specific teacher, ask if they’d mind posting a review of their experience online and mentioning the teacher by name.
Of course, also thank the parent for letting you know, and personally tell the teacher about the praise they received. Everyone loves good news!
Method #3: Use a QR Code
While reviews can make or break your business, convenience will be the difference between whether a client leaves a review or not. Fortunately, QR codes make leaving a review as convenient as possible. Parents just scan it on their mobile device, write the review, and press “upload!”
We recommend positioning a QR code at the front desk with easy instructions: “If you’re happy with our service, please leave us a review!” The QR code can direct your clients to whatever review platform you prefer. Easy peasy!
Method #4: Text a Link
Texting is one of the most common ways people communicate today. Many people prefer it over emails and phone calls. So why not use it to request reviews?
You can text clients a link to your review site or platform with a short request for a review. Not only will you get new reviews, but you’ll also get reviews on the platforms on which you want your presence to improve.
Method #5: Email (Drip) Campaigns
A little more complicated but definitely worth the effort, a drip email campaign consists of a few email requests for reviews sent out each week to a few people on your email list. Sending just a few emails at a time prevents the mass influx of reviews that platforms don’t like and will penalize.
Since this strategy is more cumbersome and requires more time and effort than some of the others, it’s a good one to outsource if you have the budget.
Reviews and Reputation
Generating new reviews is just one step in the reputation management process. It’s unrealistic to expect all reviews to be good reviews, and you’ll have to respond to negative reviews appropriately if you want to manage your online reputation well.
That’s where Rose Marketing Solutions really shines.
When we work with a childcare center, we don’t just help them get reviews. We also respond to reviews — good and bad — in a way that’ll keep parents flocking to your school.
Every review is a chance for a happy parent to become a brand ambassador. It’s our job to nurture that relationship online as well as you do inside your classrooms. If you think we might be a good fit for you, give us a shout — we’d love to help!
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