Marketing

  1. Promoting your program should be seen as an ongoing process that reaches out to current families, prospective families, and past families:

         Prospective Client 

  • Conduct a follow-up call to all parents who contact you or come to your home for an interview but do not contact you again. Ask if they have found care for their child. Ask them to refer other families to your program.
  • Record a message on your phone answering machine that identifies your business.
  • Put together a photo album and caption some of the photos with descriptions of the benefits of your program. Show the photo album during parent interviews.
  • Put together a one-page flyer about your program with a list of your benefits.
  • Offer a 20% discount off the first week of child care as an incentive for a parent to enroll in your program.

         Current Clients

  • Host a celebration/party at your home and invite current families, past families, and families on your waiting list or prospective families.
  • Create a newsletter for parents: refer to articles on parenting, list your benefits, highlight children’s activities, etc.

         Past Clients

  • Create business cards and encourage past clients to distribute them to friends.
  • Keep past clients informed about your business: send them your newsletter, holiday cards, etc. Ask them to refer other families to your program.
  • Encourage past clients to send you photos of their children as they grow older. Post pictures (with their permission) in your photo album.

 

  1. Finder’s Fee: Consider offering a finder's fee to the parents now in your care to help you recruit new clients to your program. This is a low-cost, no-lose way to get new business. Offer your current clients a financial incentive if they refer another parent to you who decides to enroll her child. Don't pay the finder's fee until after the new child has been enrolled for at least one month to make sure the arrangement will last. Current clients are very likely to be selective in whom they refer to you because they will want the new child to be compatible with their child.

    You can offer currents clients cash, a free weekend of care to allow them to get away, or a week of free care for every successful referral. Offer friends and neighbors a cash reward to an amount that would attract their interest in spreading the word about your program. The amount of a finder's fee can vary considerably by neighborhood. A rough rule of thumb is that it should be at least half of your regular weekly fee. You can also put a time limit on the fee or make it apply only to openings that are harder to fill.

    Offering such finder's fees is something all providers should consider adopting because you will only pay when you have a successful enrollment. Paying to fill a space in your program is cheaper than virtually any other type of advertising you could do. Some providers dislike offering a finder's fee because they feel it is unprofessional. They believe that the idea of giving away any of their time will cause clients to put a lower value on their services. You should make your own decision about whether a finder's fee is a good idea for your program. 

  1. Use the services of your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency (CCRR) to help your promote your program:
  • Regularly update your enrollment information, including future vacancies.
  • Talk to a referral counselor on a regular basis about the supply and demand for child care in your area. Ask for advice about how you can better meet the needs of parents.
  • Keep up with the rates charged by other providers by asking for the latest rate information.

                Questions for CCR&R Counselors: What type of care is in greatest demand? What can I change in my file that will attract more parents? What is the range of rates (fee policies, vacations, holidays, etc.) for providers in my area? What do you tell parents about what to look for in a provider? What ideas do you have that might help me attract more families to my program?

  1. Compare the quality of care your offer with the rates you charge parents. If you are offering a high-quality program, your rates should reflect this. The more you are able to communicate the benefits of your program, the higher your rates can be. Too often parents cannot see a difference in the quality from one provider to another and therefore make their decision based on rates. It's up to providers to show parents what they are paying for. Set a goal of raising your rates once a year, and put a statement that this will happen in your contract.

Photo Credit: Pictures of Money 

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