I like to say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” How true that is for you with the impression you and your center make on an enrollment prospect. That impression contributes to the image in their minds of how their child will adjust and be treated in your care, and it has strong impact on their enrollment choice.
Here are three areas you can impact to make that first impression a positive one:
1. Answer your telephone professionally.
Your first contact with many prospects will be by telephone. You only get a few seconds on the phone before they have formed a first impression. Answer with a professional- sounding greeting and dialogue used by all who answer anywhere in the center. Remember to use a positive tone, a volume appropriate to the call (versus the class you just left), and to answer with a smile on your face. For years, I have said, “You can hear a smile on the telephone.” And it is true!
2. Make your center’s entry inviting.
Walk into your center as if you were an apprehensive parent. What about the first six feet inside the door makes you want to come in any further. Does it look clean and welcoming? Does it smell good? Are there materials of interest to parents of young children? Is there information available about your center and its services? And – very important – are you or your assistant right there to welcome them and show them your center (especially if they have a scheduled visit)? If they are not comfortable in the entryway, it is going to be tough to make a good impression anywhere else in the center.
3. Insist upon a positive greeting from teachers.
Parents know their child will spend most of their center time with the teacher, not the director. When a parent walks into a classroom, it is a must that the teacher looks up, SMILES, and, if possible, says “Hello.” For scheduled visits, the teacher and director may have arranged for the teacher to spend some time talking to the visiting parents. It is also impressive when the teacher invites the visiting child to join in the activities going on in the room. At the very least, the director should introduce the teacher, and the teacher should acknowledge the visitors and, if possible, shake hands. A friendly greeting from the teachers is also important once the parent has enrolled and is bringing their child into the classroom on a daily basis. Though the first impression may help get them there, an ongoing impression will help keep them there.
First impressions count – for enrollment securement and for parent retention. Make yours the best they can be.
Best wishes and happy marketing!