The child care purchase is an extremely emotionally-driven decision. For years, I have professed that parents base their decision to enroll in one program over another based more on how they feel than on all the information they find and you give them. More than with most other purchases, they research, they visit several centers, they read reviews and talk to other opinion influencers, and they need to feel assured they are making the best decision for
their child and their family.
How can you help parents through the emotional roller coaster associated with selecting the best child care, and be most sensitive and responsive to their feelings? Here are some of the ways you can make sure your enrollment prospects are having the emotional reaction you want them to.
Think in the prospect’s perspective. To understand how your prospective parents view your center and its staff and services, you must be keenly aware of their perceptions. Tour your own center as if you were a skeptical parent, and note anything they might see (and never mention to you) as a red flag. It could be a dirty entryway, a teacher’s apathy, a misspelled word on a bulletin board. Ask questions throughout the enrollment inquiry and the center visit, noting emotional reactions as much as the words they say. Watch parents’ body language during tours, and address both negative and positive triggers with staff.
Make your staff your marketing partners. Parents know the people their child will be spending the most time with in the center are the teachers. Let your center team know the impact they have on the enrollment decision. For instance, if your lead teacher acknowledges the visiting parents and child by name, switches places with you to spend a few minutes telling the parents about what their child would do in her classroom and her own experience in working with children, and warmly invites the visiting child to participate; you will have communicated a strong team approach that positively influences how the visiting parents feel about what their experience would be like in your center.
Ask your prospects how they are feeling. Before a parent leaves a center visit, ask questions that test her emotional reactions to you, such as, “What in today’s tour makes you feel the most comfortable about the education and care Hunter would receive here?” Rather than seeing this as being intrusive, most parents will appreciate that you care enough to get their honest perceptions. This can help the parents feel you really care, and help you learn emotionally-driven factors that really matter to your prospects.
Initiate communication. Throughout the center selection process and during the first few weeks after enrollment, parents will respond well to the follow up actions you take to show that you care. Good follow up that is well-timed and of value to the parents helps them feel you have their child’s and their own interests at heart. It builds confidence, and confidence sells.
Applying these techniques to address the emotional element of the child care decision can not only put you in the drivers’ seat, it can help you be the top choice for enrollment and thus, win the race.