Let’s look at post COVID-19 enrollment building from another angle. As many states move from stay-at-home to safer-at-home, and allow businesses – including child care centers – to reopen, the rules and operating restrictions are different state-to-state and even by area within the same state. What does that mean for your enrollment recovery plan?
Your capacity utilization will be likely be limited, at least initially. There may be new norms as families enter, such as health checks, parents sanitizing hands, sick child quarantines at home, masks for adults, etc.
Add to that – Parents going back to work will likely be anxious for their children to be back in the center with the teachers they love, the early education they trust, and the sense of community they want. However, for many of them, their own work lives will have changed, and that will impact their need for care. Also, they will have heightened concerns about safety, sanitation, and classroom structure. What can help you navigate this unprecedented enrollment journey?
Communication is key. Follow these tips to make yours optimally customer-focused.
Transparent – Alert families now, and continually as they begin to return, as to your new procedures and protocols. Use email, videos, Zoom calls, your website, and social media to help them feel as informed and comfortable as possible. Put a “Getting Ready to Reopen” list of measures you are implementing on the COVID-19 page of your website. Keep your FAQ page updated as you move through re-opening. Use the responses you got when you made personal calls to each family during your closure, to guide the information they need you to provide.
As devastated as the travel industry has been due to coronavirus, many airlines have proved to be an excellent example of communicating with prior customers exactly what’s happening in real time and what they are doing to assure passenger health and safety every step of the way as they slowly refill planes.
Ongoing – Make sure there is a constant flow of communication you initiate. However, instead of a flurry of emails, notify families to check Facebook and other social media you use regularly, for updates, additional learning activities, and latest credible resources for them to check regarding reopening expectations in your state. If they have indicated they want a continuation of center-to-home learning activities, let them know how you will provide that. For example, perhaps the “porch pick-up” bags of age appropriate learning activities and instructions you provided while you were closed become a weekly “Tuesday Take-Home” bag once you are open.
Waiting Lists – If you have more families wanting to re-enroll than you are now allowed to serve due to current maximum capacity regulations in each classroom, you will have to put them on a priority waiting list. Then, set a schedule to initiate regular communication with them about status. Include them on any virtual lessons and activities you provide, invite them to family Zoom calls and teacher touchpoint calls, and keep them in your private Facebook group and on your regular mailing list. Periodically call them to check in, update them, and assess their needs for child care.
As you manage all the challenges of re-opening in a new environment, be diligent about communicating with your families, who are now once again your prospects. It can be a key to keeping their perspective positive about re-enrolling with you.