Are you turning inquiries away as ineligible when you could easily serve these families with minor adjustments in operations? What marketing message is that sending? How can you capture un-served enrollment opportunities and make it easy for parents to enroll with you?

Consider these options:

Track ineligible inquiries. According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, as many as 26 percent of irregular/on-call shift employees, and 19 percent of rotating/split shift workers experience work-family conflict. Work-family conflict is worsened not only by irregular shift work but also by having longer weekly hours of work. As you speak with enrollment inquiries, track those who are ineligible because your hours of operation do not fit their needs for child care. Use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to help you efficiently track inquiry sources and ineligible prospects. If the number is significant, take the next step.

Extend hours of operation. Survey your marketplace (and your own parents) to determine the level of demand for hours of care beyond what you and nearby competitors offer. If it is strong enough to cover expenses, consider extending hours to accommodate the need. Once your new schedule is in place, promote this service as a unique benefit of your center. Be sure to alert area employers of this benefit, working with them to relay this message to employees who work longer hours or odd shifts.

Offer flexible programming. Though you may already offer some form of part-time or drop-in care, determine what schedule would serve unmet needs in your target prospect audience. Be open to possibilities that make your child care the one that will work for those parents with flexible work hours or hours that alternate regularly.

Encourage position sharing. If you have customers whose work schedule or workplace means they only need part time care, work with them to find another parent with the same need with whom they could share a full-time enrollment position. With clear guidelines, this arrangement can save two enrollments, be a sigh of relief to the parents, and generate higher revenue for your center than a single full-time enrollment would. 

Though your center may have specific reasons for the hours it keeps, it is always wise to stop and think in your prospect’s perspective. Take a good look at your center’s hours of operation and decide if they are truly serving the needs in your current audience of families. Ask yourself, “Do we make it easy for prospects to enroll with us, or do we send them into the waiting arms of our competitors who do? Easy-to-enroll is better for everyone and can be a Basic Competitive Advantage for your center.

Julie Wassom
The Child Care Marketing Expert and Coach
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author