I recently ran across a review of a childcare center that was written by a mom who had gotten a very positive impression from her initial investigation and had scheduled a tour. In her review, she indicated how disappointed she was to get no confirmation of the visit, and upon arrival, no one was there to greet her. She had taken time off from work to see the school and had arranged alternate childcare so she could be at her appointment. She felt she was unimportant to the school, how wondered how important her child would be in this environment.
This school lost this enrollment based on the parent’s impression of unprofessionalism and lack of attention to her as a prospect. How could this have been handled differently to assure a better outcome?
First, when a prospective parent schedules an appointment, send at least two confirmation messages (text or email or both) requesting that the prospect confirm the scheduled visit. Most CRM programs have a function to help you with this task.
Second, be sure someone is there to greet the prospect with a friendly hello, a handshake, use of their name, and the prospect’s lead form if they have submitted one,.
Third, bend down to greet the child at their level if they accompany the parent.
Fourth, make sure you have communicated with the teacher in the child’s classroom regarding tour time, child’s name, and any parent concerns the teacher can address.
And one more easy technique to make the parent feel welcome is a chalkboard or sandwich board on which you have written a short welcome message to the parent by name.
On another occasion a young mom was expressing to me how she visited a school, and liked it, but told the director she wanted to talk with her husband before they made a decision. This mom was impressed when she did get a follow up call from the director. However, when the mom told her they had chosen a nanny for their infant, the director simply replied, “Ok, well thank you for visiting us.” This was pleasant and friendly but did not retain the prospect nor leave the best impression. So how could this have been handled better?
First, when receiving this common objection to enrolling immediately, use Wassom’s Triple A Formula (Acknowledge with empathy, Address with a benefit, Attempt a commitment) to attempt to schedule another visit with both parents (and possibly the child).
Second, in the follow up call, when a prospect tells you they have chosen care that is not center-based you can retain this prospect for future enrollment by using a response, such as “I understand and want to thank you for considering our center. You know, several families who have visited us have chosen to have a nanny while their child is an infant, and then come join us when the baby becomes a toddler. We periodically send our parents information about our center and children Ben’s age that might be helpful to you as he gets older and reaches developmental milestones. We also include invitations to family events, which we would be happy to have you attend. Would you like to receive that information as well?”
Most parents will respond positively to this kind of support, and it gives you permission to continue to re-contact them. You can then tickler the time when the child is older and then initiate a more personal contact and another invitation to visit the school and consider enrolling then.
Do these things and you will set yourself apart from other ECE choices and leave a lasting impression that makes your prospects smile and remember you!