Is a higher-than-usual tuition increase in the coming year’s plan for your center?

Whether driven by higher costs to keep your best teachers, sustain your highest quality program, address value-to-price, for building maintenance, or some combination, the amount of tuition increase you need may come as a shock to your parents.

Thinking in the parent’s perspective, they may see a disparity between your school’s tuition increase and the rise in inflation, or how your increase is far beyond the percent of salary increase they received last year. Regardless of how they look at it, your job is to help them see the value of your early care services.

To do this well requires a communication strategy. Here are four key elements of a strategy that will help your parents want to do what it takes to remain your customers, and help you retain their enrollment and the good relationships you have with them.

1. Knowledge

  • Target audience. You must first know your target audience of families. What do they value most from your preschool that keep them there rather than looking elsewhere? A parent survey can help clarify this, as can personal conversations.
  • Justification for increase. Everyone in your center must have a clear understanding of why this increase is happening and what it will mean for your school and service excellence.
  • Basic Competitive Advantages – What are the features of your center that parents really value? Look beyond what all schools promote as key features to those about you that make a critical difference to your families. It might be better ratios, more opportunities to build community, etc. Then, for each BCA, know exactly what the benefit is to the family – what do they GET from that BCA.
    • Responses to questions and objections – Anticipate parent and prospect questions and objections regarding the tuition increase. Know exactly how you will respond to help parents understand and justify value.

      2. Proactive Communication Plan

Determine exactly what you will say in communication you send out ahead of re-enrollment, to current and waiting list families, and to prospects to alert them to the tuition increase. Use multiple venues, and set a drip campaign schedule that includes different types of message delivery, such as email, text, phone calls, etc. Reinforce your BCAs through extra social media posts and documentation of differences. Now is a good time to generate new positive reviews, as well.

3. Confidence and consistency amongst school team

An important part of your communication strategy is to assure your entire leadership team is communicating the same message, has the same objection responses, and has practiced to the point of being consistent in this messaging. Give teachers a simple response to questions about your tuition that acknowledges the parents’ concerns and redirects them to the management team for details. This will instill confidence in your families and present you as a strong team.

4. Managing enrollment loss and replacement

Even with all your best efforts, you may find some of your customers feel they can no longer afford you. In that case, be a helpful resource to direct them toward investigating possible avenues for additional funding for childcare. (For example, see my recent blog on Dependent Care FSAs.) Though you may still lose some families, you can always let them know you will welcome them back if their situation changes and you have space.

Part of a proactive strategy to replace lost enrollment is to review how well – and how often – you are initiating communication with your waiting list to communicate with them beyond their status on your wait list and to include them in appropriate activities at your school. Reach out to them at least quarterly.

Make sure your whole management team’s conversion skills are at their best. For easy, effective online training in conversion skills, consider whether or not The Enrollment EXCELerator Training Program might be right for you and your school.

Use these elements to build an effective tuition increase communication strategy, and you will minimize the loss of enrollment in your school.

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