Lightning fast. That’s how quickly you must respond to an initial enrollment inquiry for the prospective parents to keep you in the running as a school they want to pursue as an enrollment option.
Today’s young families typically investigate up to five schools. They schedule a visit or submit an inquiry form to at least three of those. The schools who respond immediately and make it easy to schedule a tour (virtual or in person) are the ones your prospect feels really care about them. Beyond good business practice, some of those parents may be thinking, “If that school responds that rapidly to my inquiry, I’ll bet they will respond rapidly when my child needs them – or we do. If they don’t, we must not be that important – nor will we be if we enroll there.”
So what is soon enough to get back to an inquiry?
Upon initial web inquiry…
When your lead form is submitted by a prospect, it should be integrated into your customer relationship management system, so you receive the populated form and your prospect receives an immediate email or text response thanking them for their inquiry. That message, if by email, should be on a branded template, and should indicate that you will reach out to them personally to learn more about them and help them with the next step of this process (to schedule a visit). In that message, tell them when to expect to hear from you. I recommend within 24 hours, or the next business day.
It is ideal if this outreach can be a phone call, so you have a chance to ask a few key questions, personalize the conversation to any needs expressed on the inquiry form, and schedule a visit.
By no later than the next business day, send an email or text confirming their scheduled visit, and offering them something of value, such as a link or an attachment to a brief branded document that explains your unique benefits, or during COVID, your sanitation and safety measures.
Following a telephone inquiry…
Some parents see the clickable phone number on your website or social media post, and call to inquire. If you are able to convert that conversation into a scheduled visit (or virtual tour), send an email or text immediately following your phone conversation to confirm the visit time and send them the same link or document or personal interest to the prospect that you would send for a web inquiry. What’s the latest you can do that? By the end of that business day, or if the call is late afternoon, by the next morning.
For a tour scheduled online…
A school visit (or virtual tour),scheduled on your website by your prospect, will ideally trigger your CRM to both populate your calendar and send your prospect an immediate message confirming their time for the visit, as well as indicating that you will be in contact to learn more about their needs. When? Within the first 24 hours is best.
Your prospect will actually wait to see if you really follow up as you said you would. It starts the process of building credibility when you do what that auto-response indicated you would. If you do not reach them on that first outgoing call, try again the next day, leaving the best times for them to return a call or text to you. Make it quick and personalized, and you will make it easy and effortless for your prospects to keep you on their short list for their enrollment choice.
“The early bird gets the worm may be a very old saying”, but it holds absolute truth for managing enrollment inquiries in today’s early care and education marketplace.