Choosing the Right CRM for Your Childcare Organization

The Ultimate Guide and Checklist



The right CRM for your childcare organization can boost enrollment, save time, and simplify sales and marketing. But choosing the best CRM takes careful consideration. View our latest guide to learn:

  • Why having a CRM is essential to your childcare success

  • Who should be included in evaluating a CRM platform

  • Essential features you need whether you’re a single-center or multicenter childcare organization

What is A CRM?

Customer Relationship Management - easily automate childcare marketing and lead management.

CRM stands for ‘Customer Relationship Management and refers to the strategies and tools used by organizations to manage both potential and current families in an effort to optimize conversion success and typically, to increase revenue.

This powerful software simplifies sales and marketing, boosts enrollment, and improves productivity. With the right CRM, you can automate sales and marketing activities, streamline and organize communications, simplify task management, get real-time reporting, and register parents online.

Many CRMs gather data from multiple sources to provide you with a comprehensive view of a family and any past communications you may have had with them. This insight allows you to build long-lasting, meaningful relationships that can help you stand out against other childcare centers in your area.

Businesses that utilize CRM software see a 47% higher customer retention rate than those that do not. CRM software helps you grow your childcare business with less work.

Why is Having a CRM Essential for your Childcare Organization? 

Managing childcare sales and marketing without the right software is frustrating. Leads and follow-up slip through the cracks. Oversight and accountability are hard to come by. And you can’t get real-time visibility into the metrics you need to grow your childcare organization. It all adds up to lower enrollment and reduced retention.

CRM versus Pen, Paper, and Spreadsheets 

Many childcare organizations still manage new inquiries with pen and paper or spreadsheets. This often results in inconsistent, slower follow-up and opportunities being missed. In a recent study, ChildcareCRM found that the childcare center that follows up with a prospective family first has an 80% higher likelihood of gaining that enrollment. By using a CRM to manage new inquiries and family contacts, you can automate marketing communications saving you hours of manual management. Plus, a CRM increases organization within your childcare enrollment process.

Before partnering with ChildcareCRM, we were using a large, industry-agnostic CRM that lacked the intricacies specific to the childcare industry. Our previous platform did not include the proper terminology, verbiage, and workflows that childcare requires. In addition, because the industry-agnostic CRM was a very large company, we did not get the personable support and customer care that we were looking for.”


– David Hawthorne, Director of Customer and Talent Acquisition at Little Sprouts Early Education and Child Care

Industry-Agnostic CRMs versus Industry-Focused CRMs

There are several large CRM solutions in the market that are loaded with features designed to meet everyone’s needs. These can be a great solution for companies like Amazon that are involved in dozens of industries but may not be the best fit for someone like you, a childcare professional working within a very specific field.

A great CRM should be designed for the childcare industry to help you manage new inquiries, tours, waitlisting, registration, and enrollment. It should be purpose-built for the business of childcare, from email templates to workflows and software integrations. Find a niche CRM system that's customizable and focused on your childcare industry-specific needs.

The Benefits of an Industry-Focused CRM

A great CRM should also be powerful enough to eliminate extra hours of work to help you and your team do more in less time. Your days are more than busy, so you can’t afford to waste time focusing on inefficient processes or redundant tasks that can be automated with the right tool.

Today, everything around us is digital from our phones to Amazon and Door Dash. Parents expects that same fast, convenient experience from their childcare provider. An industry- focused CRM will help you respond to inquiries faster and stay connected through text messaging—the communication medium of choice for today’s millennial parents. A specific childcare CRM ensures everyone in your pipeline receives timely communications through automation. 

Other key benefits of an industry-focused CRM include:

  • Increased enrollment

  • Improved parent enrollment experience

  • Real-time insights across childcare centers

  • Standardize marketing through automation

  • Reduced staff turnover and decreased new employee ramp time

  • The ability to run detailed marketing campaigns

  • Improved communication with families

  • Learn more about the benefits of efficiently managing a childcare CRM here

Who Should Choose your Childcare CRM Platform

Choosing a CRM platform is an important decision. It takes careful consideration to find the right solution for your childcare organization’s size and goals. To implement new technology, the right people on your team need to be involved. At ChildcareCRM, we find that the following people are typically part of the evaluation process.

Single Centers

The key decision-maker should be the owner or director of the center. The director will be using your CRM daily to manage sales and marketing tasks. The owner and director will also be interested in reports that help optimize marketing spend, manage performance, and estimate revenue.

Multiple Centers

The key decision-maker should be in marketing, sales/enrollment, or communications. This team will be using your CRM every day to automate sales and marketing activities, streamline communications, simplify task management, get real-time reporting, and register parents online.

Make sure to involve the people that are marketing your center and overseeing the communication between your center(s) and prospective families. They should be included in the demonstration process of whichever CRM platforms you are evaluating. Remember to focus on how each CRM vendor helps you simplify sales and marketing, boost enrollment, and save time.




How to Evaluate Your CRM Options...

Outline Your Growth and Marketing Goals 

Determine your current classroom availability and what capacity your center(s) need to reach in order to achieve sustainable profitability. Next, set measurable objectives for yourself and your team that can help you achieve your goals and grow your childcare business.

Research CRM Options Based on Your Goals  

Once you’ve outlined your metrics and understand approximately how many students you want to enroll or how many tours you need to give in order to see higher conversion rates, look at CRM options that have proven track records of helping organizations like yours meet similar goals.

Set a Go Live Date for Implementation  

The implementation process is just that – a process. So, be mindful of how many staff members you need to train on this new platform and get an estimate from your CRM’s implementation team as to how long it takes to learn the software. A user-friendly CRM system will help your staff transition and implement a new platform easier. Understanding the timeline for rolling out your new CRM will help you stay organized and focused while also trying to accomplish your regular duties. Additionally, make sure to work with your implementation specialist on transferring over contacts and important family data so you have all the information you need when it’s time to go live. 

Map Out Key Milestones Necessary to Start Proving Value

Some examples of key milestones when beginning your journey with a CRM are:

  • Send and receive your first emails and texts – both individual and group communications. This is important for understanding how the system works and what it looks like when you get a new message so you can respond to it in a timely manner.

  • Track new leads and where they are coming from so you can measure the return on investment of marketing and advertising campaigns. Knowing what’s working and what’s not will help you save money and spend your budget more efficiently.

  • Assign tasks and regularly monitor how quickly they are being completed by your staff. Having this kind of information can be very beneficial for understanding how your team members spend their time and what job functions take up the most of their day.

CRM Essential Features Roadmap

The best CRM features allow you to automate sales, marketing, and communication tasks. Easily view the performance of each center with a CRM to adjust your enrollment initiatives. 

Lead and Child Management

Look for a solution that helps you manage all incoming family leads. Make sure the solution is tailored to the childcare industry—tracking parents and their children. Beware of industry agnostic CRMs that don’t track the children of new leads. With a solution built for the childcare industry, this kind of tracking is built-in with no customization required.

Task Management

Choose a solution that makes it easy to manage and prioritize daily tasks. You’ll want easy task sorting by today’s tasks, past tasks, and future tasks. If you’re managing a team, you’ll also want the ability to create and assign tasks to team members along with the ability to see task statuses across your team.

Automated Communications

The faster you respond to a new lead, the greater likelihood they’ll become a customer. Save time and manual work by automating communications. Look for a solution that enables you to create, customize, and personalize email and text templates and then automate their delivery over time and tracks replies.

Text Communications

It’s no secret that Millennials are quickly becoming the world’s most numerous generation, and the number of Millennials who are becoming parents is growing. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 80% of today’s parents to children under the age of 12 are Millennials.

It’s estimated that 60% of millennials like to communicate with businesses via text messaging. Millennials feel text messaging is less invasive than phone calls and provides a more personal touch than other forms of communication, such as email. Childcare centers that use text to communicate see higher and faster response rates. Compared to email, open rates for texts are as high as 98%, and on average it only takes 90 seconds for someone to respond to a text.

Another important part of text messaging’s appeal to the Millennial audience is largely based on convenience, speed, and flexibility. Text messages such as tour scheduling reminders and payment reminders are a great example of this. Almost half of the millennials surveyed by Chief Marketer —48%—said they prefer to receive notices about payment information through text, while more than half preferred to receive appointment reminders through their mobile device.

If your CRM does not provide a tool for sending and receiving text messages, you may find yourself missing out on prospective families and enrollments.

Lead Capture

With families visiting your website to learn more about your childcare center, you’ll want to capture their interest with web forms. You need the ability to created unlimited landing pages, for a variety of marketing and enrollment initiatives, with web forms that flow directly in your CRM platform. 

Self-Scheduled Tours

Top-performing centers book nearly 80% of parent tours within 24 hours. Millennial parents especially like the convenience of self-scheduled tours. Make sure you choose a CRM platform that gives parents the ability to schedule tours right from your website. Easily generate more leads by placing a tour-specific landing page with a web form for parents to self-schedule tours directly on your website. The parameters are set by you and your staff, so everyone is always prepared to give a high-quality tour at the right time. Check out ways to automate and enhance tours with ChildcareCRM workflow automations (sometimes called 'Business Rules').

Dashboard Reporting

Dashboard reporting allows childcare organizations to focus on lead behavior, improve the enrollment experience, and increase family retention. The best CRM platform visualizes your data in real-time to easily share with center directors and staff. CRM reports help organizations identify and enroll families with precision, according to their needs and concerns regarding their child(ren)’s care. Because of the importance of reporting for measuring business performance and lead progression, look for a CRM that has easily accessible and digestible reports. 

Some of the most important reports your childcare center needs are:

Lead Sources: Where your leads are coming from. Check out the helpful ChildcareCRM feature: 'source of families' report. Learn about additional reporting capabilities and CRM features here. 

Task Completion: How many tasks are completed on time versus those that are overdue

Response Rate: How quickly you and your center’s staff are following up with families

Enrollment Rate: How many leads enter your system and move onto a registered or waitlisted status


Online Parent Registration

Paper forms are often extensive and time-consuming. This outdated method of parent registration can be daunting for some families and leaves room for errors and delayed submissions. In fact, 62% of incorrect contact information in information management systems is caused by manual data entry errors. However, having the ability for parents to register for your childcare center online makes the process more intuitive for the parent and error-proof for your staff. You’ll find fewer data entry mistakes or errors in important contact information.

CCF-Enrollment Packet - English

Integration with Childcare Listing Directories

Generating leads is critical as you look to fill seats at your childcare center(s). Childcare listing directories like Winnie and Kinside in the US and Care for Kids in Australia, help you generate leads with free and paid listing services. Choose a CRM that integrates seamlessly with these websites so you can increase your incoming leads and have them flow directly into your CRM for follow-up and marketing automation.

Integration with Childcare Management Systems

Software integrations save time and improve data quality, so you don’t have to input the same data into both your CRM and management system. Businesses that utilize software integrations primarily for data entry processes save an average of 3.8 hours per day. Additionally, those businesses with information management systems that don’t offer integrations, regularly experience manual data entry errors which can cause up to 62% of the contact information in your CRM or management system to be incorrect or outdated.

Look for a CRM solution that has proven integrations with key childcare management systems like Procare Solutions and Kangarootime in the US and Kidsoft and Quikkids in Australia. Integrating your technology stack will increase productivity within your organization and save staff time.


Document Attachments

During the enrollment and registration processes, there will be times you need to share additional assets related to the family you are interacting with. Perhaps there is a contract or a marketing newsletter that you want to share in an email to a parent. Having a CRM with the ability to attach documents is essential for your childcare business.

Mobile App

Make sure the CRM provider you choose also has a mobile application. This comes in handy when you’re on the go and want to access your CRM from your phone. View and manage new leads, your enrollment pipeline, scheduled tours, and more directly from your phone.

Simple, Easy to Use Interface

Choose a CRM that’s easy to use for you and your staff. The more intuitive the interface, the less training and onboarding you’ll need. Look for a solution that cuts down the learning curve and maximizes ease-of-use by hiding fields and features you don’t use.

Cloud-Based Software

Skip installation hassles by choosing cloud-based CRM software that you can access anywhere, anytime on the web. With cloud-based software, you can log in anywhere from any device with an internet connection. It’s so much easier and more convenient.


As a childcare provider, you’ve got a laundry list of concerns every day. Security shouldn’t be one of them. That’s why your CRM should be securely encrypted and managed by a team with experience protecting their platform against hackers and other system violations. Each CRM provider should have documentation about their security measures and the best practices they follow to protect customer data. If you can’t find it on their website, request more information during your demo.

CRM Essential Services and Support

Make sure you look for these essential services and support options from the software providers you evaluate.

Implementation and Training

Choose an experienced provider that has proven implementations at thousands of childcare centers. Look for a CRM provider that can guide you through implementation, providing best practices and recommendations to maximize your business along the way. Make sure to find a childcare software that's easy to manage once it's implemented.

Free, Live Customer Support

Never trust a software company that makes more money when their customers have more problems. Look for a CRM company that gives you free support any way you want it— chat, phone, or email. Also look for self-service support where you can search their website knowledge base for answers to your questions.

Expanded Features for Enterprise Organizations 

Customizable Workflow Automation

Choose an experienced provider that has proven implementations at thousands of childcare centers. Look for a CRM provider that can guide you through implementation, providing best practices and recommendations to maximize your business along the way.

Drip Campaigns

Take advantage of behavior-based visual workflows to easily build email campaigns. Drip campaigns can be used throughout the entire prospective parent’s journey to enrollment. However, drip campaigns are also powerful tools for re-engaging families who have become disengaged and may be considered a ‘lost opportunity.'

Drip campaigns allow you to communicate with prospective families based on how they interact with the content you share. Because these messages are all part of a single campaign, you can better monitor their effectiveness, your return on investment, and how the recipients are responding. For example, in a typical drip campaign, you would send out an email to all prospective parents. Those who opened and clicked through could then be given a task in your CRM to follow up with them by phone. Those who did not open the email could automatically be sent a text at a designated time and date of your choosing.

Document Storage

Build on the advantages of using a cloud-based CRM by making sure your solution also stores commonly used attachments. If it also has the ability to store files that your new leads send you, that’s even better.

Custom Reporting and Analytics in Childcare

For larger organizations who need access to additional data and analytics referencing staff productivity, parent engagement, and more – look for CRM software that has customizable reports and capabilities with extensive filtering, selection, and exporting options. These features within a user-friendly format give you the flexibility you need to quickly and thoroughly analyze family information, data trends, staff usage, and revenue to easily display relevant data that optimizes your marketing and enrollment strategy. For example, ChildcareCRM offers custom reporting in CRM+ that lets you visualize data with the click of a button.

Multicenter Views

Look for a CRM provider that gives you multicenter views so you can manage your enrollment pipeline in real-time across centers. You’ll also want pre-built and customizable inquiry statuses based on your enrollment process and the ability to see opportunity progression by the center.

Multicenter Branding

Choose a CRM solution that gives you branding flexibility so you can easily and effectively handle multiple brands within your organization. Make sure that:

  • Locations can be tagged by brand

  • Email and text templates can be created and set up by brand

  • Group communication can be sent by brand

  • Reports can be run by brand or any other defined location group

  • Always ensure your external messaging is on brand by keeping your database clean and up-to-date with a childcare CRM

Download the Guide

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Additional Resources

  • View a next-generation customer relationship management system to streamline enrollment.

  • Check out nine ways a CRM can automate and organize your childcare enrollment process.

  • Grab quick additional tips on what to look for in a CRM system.

  • Find out more about why it's time for a user-friendly CRM system.

  • Discover best practices for your CRM platform to increase conversions.

  • Gain tips for automating and enhancing tours with ChildcareCRM workflow automations and a tour kiosk that lets you access tour information at any time.

  • Explore additional childcare CRM features to see how automation saves time.

  • Learn more about what CRM+ has to offer and how the new dashboards and navigation streamlines enrollment.

  • See childcare software that won the High Performer award by G2 due to market presence, high customer satisfaction, and ease of implementation.

  • Lastly, see how to implement childcare software and maintain a clean Childcare CRM database.