With the continual uncertainties on rules around re-opening your center, magnified by parents’ concerns and fears regarding health, safety, and availability of care, how do you develop and execute a solid plan for rebuilding your enrollment?
Your ability to “pivot” is vital.
By definition, a pivot usually occurs when a company makes a fundamental change to their business after determining that their product/service isn’t meeting the needs of their intended market. …
In addition to new health mandates, parents returning to your center now have different needs. Strong leaders take on the challenge, knowing what worked pre-pandemic, or even yesterday, may need to change today. It requires creativity and empathy (as in, how can you make it more tolerable for a teacher to wear that hot mask all day?). It requires a strong commitment to success. Here are some ways to keep enrollment stable and climbing in the midst of constant change…
Keeping in touch with your local health department can help you stay ahead of changes forthcoming. Meet regularly with your center teams to review procedures and expectations, and to discuss “What if?” for even the small things that will impact operations and parent perceptions. For example, if taking each child’s temperature upon entry, sanitizing hands, and escorting them individually to classrooms causes a huge jam at drop-off times, how can you adjust to avoid frustration and still accomplish your health and safety goals? You may have to pivot to a new solution.
Communicate openly and often
At the risk of repeating myself, communication is key. Keep your staff in the loop with changes and to brainstorm what could work. Continually communicate their value to you with creative messaging and actions. Communicate with your colleagues in Zoom meetings, to share challenges and solutions. Communicate constantly with parents to learn what they need, and to alert them to what you are doing and why. Use social media and videos to show them what’s being done regarding cleaning, social distancing, entry rules, and how the children are still getting excellent early learning experiences and loving care. Call parents when you must make a change that may be unpopular. They might not like it in the moment, but they will appreciate your candor and will come to rely on it. That trust helps retain enrollment. See my recent blog for more communication ideas. https://juliewassom.com/2020/05/18/covid-19-support-vii-managing-enrollment-during-re-opening-restrictions/
Build a deep bench of center leadership
Despite all your efforts, you may have to make a giant pivot if some of your center management team resign or worse, get sick. Onboarding deep into your team can prepare you for such unforeseen possibilities that could significantly impact enrollment. In a webinar hosted by Hinge Early Education Brokers, www.hingebrokers.com, guest presenter and child care business owner, Aleta Mechtel, suggested looking past your regional manager, center director, and assistant director to prepare other key employees on the primary facets of center management. I could not agree more. Training a deep management bench in marketing and conversion skills as part of that onboarding will help you retain enrollment-building momentum. Now, while your enrollment is lower is the perfect time to train. The Enrollment EXCELerator© Training Program is the perfect tool – virtual, user-friendly, and affordable.
A recent message on TikTok said, “We are living in a future history lesson.” As we emerge from the coronavirus shutdown, every center’s experience will be unique. Fundamental changes you make now, in the present, could well lead to a brighter future for your enrollment and your child care business.