Let’s take a moment to look at ideal sales funnel progress for increasing enrollment in your childcare center:
The parent finds your childcare center’s website through a Google search or referral. From your website, the parent either completes a form or calls your center directly to schedule a tour. Your childcare center responds to the inquiry as immediately as possible, leading the parent further down the funnel toward enrollment.
That’s the ideal. But the fact is, many parents search the web for childcare after business hours — after your staff has gone home for the day.
We’ve found that parents searching for childcare tend to contact the top three or four centers in their area, and whoever responds first usually wins their attention. So, how can you make sure you’re the first to respond, even when no one’s in the office?
The Linchpin for Increasing Enrollment in Childcare Centers: Quick Responses
In our experience, quick responses are so important that they act as something of a linchpin for increasing enrollment in childcare centers.
Since information is so easy to find in our digital world, people expect quick responses. If you don’t respond within the first hour, or at least the first three to five hours, you lose the prospect. At that point, they’ve scheduled a tour with your competitor.
Being the first to respond is about more than just getting the prospect’s attention. It also communicates your school’s authority and competence. It shows that your center is being run the right way.
Responding quickly also allows you to offer a complete explanation of your tuition and what’s included in it. Parents who are new to childcare may not understand what’s included in tuition and will sometimes ask questions like, “What’s your rate?”
This basic question leaves far too much room for misunderstanding. Gain control of the conversation by making sure the parent understands everything that’s included — diapers, wipes, snacks, meals, etc. Make sure that when they talk to other centers, they make an apples-to-apples comparison. You don’t want to be the last one to participate in this conversation — you want to set the tone.
On that note, the longer you take to respond, the less chance you have to engage with prospects and differentiate yourself from your competition. Responding quickly affords you the opportunity to highlight your value and set yourself apart.
How to Speed Up Your Response
So, how do you respond to interested parents after all your staff has gone home? Consider our four tips:
1. Incorporate a Tour Scheduler on Your Website
If parents are impressed with your website and want to schedule a tour, the simplest solution — and the quickest path to conversion — is to implement a tour scheduler.
This is especially useful for after-hours booking. Imagine you’re a working parent searching the internet for a childcare center late at night. Wouldn’t you love to minimize back-and-forth communication by booking a tour right away? You won’t have to remember to make a phone call, and you can even get text and email reminders.
2. Autoresponder With an Associated Drip Campaign
Autoresponders and CRMs are fantastic. Once a parent schedules a tour, an autoresponder sends a message thanking them for their interest and confirming their tour.
A drip campaign starts educating the parent about your school’s culture. You can include program-specific information about curriculum, meals, transportation, and other essential notes from your Welcome Packet. The autoresponder can use email or text, depending on your platform or the user’s preference.
How great would it be if a parent decided to enroll their child before their tour date based on information they received through your autoresponder?
3. Answer Your Phone During Business Hours
Unanswered phones lead to unanswered questions. When parents can’t contact you during business hours, they form an unconscious bias against your center and doubt you’re doing your job well.
Parents wonder things like, “Are they understaffed?” or “What if I couldn’t get in touch with my child during an emergency?” Ultimately, your goal is to give parents peace of mind — and questions like that prevent you from reaching that goal.
4. Educate Prospects on the Best Times to Come By for a Tour
Whether on the phone, in an email response, or during your on-hold recording, take every opportunity to educate prospects on the best times to come by for a tour or how to schedule one.
Don’t miss the chance to invite prospective clients to tour, even using your autoresponder.
The key to increasing enrollment in your childcare center — to converting leads into clients — is responding to inquiries quickly. The faster, the better. That’s where automation serves you well.
Play your cards right by integrating systems and using tools that demonstrate your authority and expertise to potential clients. If you need extra help implementing those systems, contact us today. We’re happy to help.
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