Guest Blog by Genevieve Carbone, Head of Marketing, Kangarootime
Keeping your families happy and engaged is just as important as attracting and enrolling new children at your childcare center. Families satisfied with your center and care are more likely to recommend your school or write a positive online review. In marketing, we often call this the “flywheel” approach: you enroll families, they become advocates for your center and help you to attract and engage new families, and the cycle continues.
While managing your parents’ satisfaction is always top of mind for you, doing so can also optimize your marketing efforts. There are many steps you can take to ensure that your families are pleased with your center.
- Communicate often and consistently.
As an early childhood education professional, you know how important strong communication with parents and guardians is. There are so many things to communicate with parents—compliance, important resources, events and holidays—and it can be overwhelming. Creating a consistent plan of communication with varying channels is essential to keeping families confident and trusting of your care and educational experience.
- Know your channels. First, think through all of the communication channels that you have. You may communicate with parents via email and phone. A tool like Kangarootime can help you streamline communication with a Parent App, text messages and messaging within the software. Once you identify all of the channels you have, pinpoint 2-3 channels that work the best for you (i.e., parents respond the quickest on one platform or specifically state a preferred channel in one of your feedback sessions). Alternatively, be selective with your channels and do your research; emerging channels may be enticing because parents use them (e.g., Facebook), but your communications may get lost in the shuffle.
- Be thoughtful about messages. Once you understand your communication channels, you can decide which channel to use for what message, and the cadence of your messages. For example, you can send a monthly newsletter that includes a calendar of up-coming events and other good-to-know information. You can then use a channel like text messages for urgent messages like your center closing for weather conditions or if a child needs to be picked up because he/she is ill. When you maintain consistent messages through specific channels, parents will start to learn your patterns and know what messages are sent through which channel.
- Build community.
Your children’s parents want the opportunity to connect with other parents at your school. By creating opportunities for your parents to meet one another, you’re building a community and strong relationships that can have a lasting impact. Here are some ideas to help you foster a community—both digitally and in-person:
- Create a separate space for your parents. Provide parents with a way to communicate with one another, like creating a special Facebook group for your parents or using a tool like Slack that offers group messaging. This way, parents can connect and get to know one another. You can have this be a place where your parents drive the discussion or you can post conversation starters to spark some chatter.
- Offer parents-only events. Allow your parents to meet face-to-face. Host parent-only events via video conferencing or host them at your center (socially distanced, of course!). You can make it special by mentioning fun facts about their children or if in-person, showcasing their children’s latest work.
- Allow your parents to share feedback.
Soliciting feedback from your customer families is essential to meeting their needs and keeping them happy with your center. This is also helpful as a starting point to learn what improvements they would value most. There is no better way to learn what to improve than to hear feedback directly from your customers.
- Send a survey to gauge parent/guardian feedback and opinions. As Julie Wassom always say, “Think in your prospect’s perspective!” By surveying your parents, you can understand what they like and dislike about your school, areas they feel need improvement, and an understanding of their preferences. You can use a free tool like Google Forms in the Google Workspace or Typeform which has an affordable monthly cost.
- If you don’t have parent/teacher conferences, consider scheduling these once a year for your parents. In these sessions, you can share the progress of their child(ren) and use it as an opportunity to share feedback on your center and any potential improvements you will be making.
As you look to institute new communication channels, programs and initiatives at your center, keep in mind that this may take time. Identify the area that you are most concerned about and prioritize that first. This will help make your family retention plan more manageable and sustainable.
Genevieve Carbone is the Head of Marketing at Kangarootime and also the parent of a toddler. She oversees all marketing and communications activities at Kangarootime, including a webinar series and blog for childcare professionals and early educators.