Putting a family on your waiting list causes mixed emotions. Though you are happy to have full enrollment in the class they need, you probably feel badly about not being able to serve them immediately, right? So how can you help these families feel a part of your center while they wait?
Here are three ways to engage waiting list families and help bond them to your center until they enroll…
1. Initiate periodic contact. Schedule some of the time you spend on prospect follow up toward those families already on your waiting list. Rather than waiting for them to contact you as to status on the list, you reach out to them. With what? In addition to current position on the list, ask about the child, including what early education solution they have currently. Alert them to upcoming invitations you will be sending them. Ask what questions you could answer about child development. Include an occasional call along with electronic communications. Besides showing you care, this positions you as the knowledgeable, helpful professional they can trust.
2. Include them in center communications. Every family on your waiting list should be asked if they would like to receive your regular center emails and communications, such as newsletters, parenting tips, updates available on your website and social media, etc. This not only makes them feel informed and included, it keeps you and your center top-of-mind until a space becomes available for them.
3. Invite them to special events. When you add waiting list families to your special event invitation list, you offer them the opportunity to build community. This is so important to young families, with research indicating that one enrollment selection criteria is finding a like-minded community with whom they want to associate and grow. Whether it is a holiday event, a special parenting class just for your enrolled families, or a broader community event in which you are participating, including these families will engage them. It will also keep you on the short list for their child care choice, as soon they can enroll.
When you add a family to your waiting list, let them know all the ways you will be communicating with them. The add them to your contact management system, group email list, and calendar of outgoing calls.
You get three HUGE benefits from this approach…
1. These families cannot wait to enroll in your center.
2. They retain their preference for you because they are engaged.
3. They refer you even while they are still on the waiting list.
That is SMART marketing!