Making partner programs an essential element of your enrollment recovery plan is smart marketing. As states begin to allow businesses to reopen, and you jumpstart your enrollment recovery plan in the midst of multiple uncertainties in the economy, building strong referral partners is something within your control.  Have you enlisted these partners yet?

Parent Referral Program

If you do not already have a parent referral program, now is the time to launch and widely promote your own – online, in print, and in person. The reward you give parents for referring other families will incent them only if they perceive it to be of value to them. If you already have a parent referral program, consider bumping up the reward for any new family referred who enrolls within the next three months and stays at least 30 days. In addition to the traditional tuition credit, offer something else the family values that could also support other businesses in your community hard hit by recent closures, such as gift cards for local restaurants, gyms, and children’s museums.

Staff Referral Program

Staff who refer either parents for enrollment or other qualified teacher candidates can be a valuable inquiry-generating resource for your center. Clear guidelines and meaningful referral rewards will be an incentive to staff who love your school and want more children and colleagues to experience it. Providing each staff member with their own business cards can be an easy way for them to pass along your center’s contact information to potential enrollment prospects.

Parent Ambassador Programs

Partnering with enthusiastic parents to be ambassadors for your center is a cost-free way to help you convert inquiries and retain enrollment, and it is right in your own backyard. Are you using it?

Ambassadors may have limited time and select interests, so I recommend having several types of Parent Ambassadors, each with limited outreach responsibilities.

  1. New Inquiries – These ambassadors reach out to parents who have inquired at your school but not yet visited or enrolled.
  2. New Enrollees – In the first 90 days after a new parent enrolls, these ambassadors contact them for initial satisfaction and unmet expectations.
  3. Returning Families – Post COVID-19, these ambassadors call parents to check in, see what ECE needs the family has now that might be different from before the pandemic, and encourage them to take part in the family community-building activities you are hosting.

Learn specifics on developing your Parent Ambassador Program.

Community Marketing Partners

Who are the influencers right in your center’s geographical draw radius with whom a partnership with your center could yield mutual benefits? Now is a perfect time to reach out to them.

With all community marketing contacts, whether virtual services or brick and mortar businesses, approach them not about what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. What could your direct, daily contact with large numbers of parents and their young children mean to that business? The more you think in the prospect’s perspective and communicate the benefits to them of partnering with you, the more well-received you’ll be by potential community marketing partners.

Here are two initiatives that will help you both rebuild customers…

  1. Ask these community partners to make an in-kind donation to include in the “Welcome Back” gift you are creating for your families. Let them know they can also include promotional material that will send parents to them in the future.
  2. Invite them to exhibit at your Grand Re-opening Event. Whether it’s a dentist, parenting expert, children’s party planner, or your local Jumpoline or family fun center, most are currently wide open to opportunities to connect with prospects and rebuild business.

Employer Partners

As we move into post-pandemic new business norms, companies will be looking for ways to boost productivity and encourage retention of key employees. Consider approaching major employers near your center with a partnership on an employer-sponsored vendor program. In this model, employers reserve a certain number of spaces in your school in exchange for a savings from regular tuition levels for their employees. In some cases, the employer makes up the difference in tuition and/or pays the reduced tuition for spaces not yet filled in their reserve. Either way, it gives you guaranteed capacity utilization and provides them with an inviting perk for working parents.

Success Tip – To best track and reward your referrals, always ask new prospects, “What are the ways you heard about us?” If they say, a referral, ask whom you might thank for that referral. Make sure to acknowledge and thank the source for every referral.

Email me for more support on enrollment-building partner programs that will help grow your center faster.

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