Having significant drops in your occupancy can be damaging to your childcare organisation. Without stability, it can be difficult to predict results, marketing spend, staff turnover and resources. Create certainty for your families and especially your team by developing robust marketing plans around school holidays.
Understanding where to start with marketing your centre, especially during a crucial time can be overwhelming. But we’ve created this guide to help you effectively broaden your marketing strategies, review your results and keep families engaged.
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Look at your current occupancy and identify where you need to increase occupancy and why. The ‘why’ will allow you to find out what type of strategy will work best. For example – if your toddlers’ room is low in occupancy because you have moved everyone over to the senior toddler’s room, your message should be around “Open for Learning – our toddlers have room for your child to learn and play!”
During the school holidays, it’s quite normal for families to take a break from their booking pattern and go on an extended holiday. However, this may cause a big shift in your occupancy if a handful of families are doing the same thing. It’s best to start the conversations early so you are well-prepared to see your occupancy drop or in this case to offer more casual days to families who are staying during the holidays. By offering casual days to families who are not going on holidays, they can experience more of the centre and hopefully increase their booking patterns after the break.
Now that you’ve done your research and analysis – plan a team meeting (your meeting should be well before when school holidays start). It’s better to have more heads than one. During your team meeting, no idea is a bad idea – this is the perfect time to try new things, revisit ones that didn’t quite work out in the past or keep doing the strategies that work best. Some marketing strategies that we have found interesting and proven to work are:
Create a visual table for yourself so that you are able to see what you require, who is involved, how much it would cost and how long it would take all in one view. The visual table should be easy and clear for everyone on your team to understand so that they are across all of the marketing strategies and events.
A drip campaign is a communication method that can send a short or long collection of pre-written emails to a group in your database, according to their interest or lead status overtime. This method aims to keep families in touch with your centre without the manual work of sending each email. Invest your next marketing strategy on drip campaigns to engage with families and enrol them during the school holiday periods.
A stay and play is a casual visit for families to experience the centre during a normal day. The parent can let the child be part of the activities that are happening in the centre and speak to the educators in the room that the child will be in. Typically, parents are able to attend as many stay and plays as they want until they feel that the child will be comfortable at the centre.
A centre open day is a perfect event to meet families that are enroled and/or have enquired in person. Families are able to tour the centre while the children have some fun with the activities you have on the day. The centre open day should be a more relaxed environment so families are able to take their time looking through the centre and talking to educators instead of having a short time frame of a tour. Make sure to capture each new family’s details at the door so you are able to reach out to them through a simple email or text.
Parents will always be nervous to put their child into care, especially if this is their first time. Holding a parent information night will help parents ease their nerves and gain that extra information they might have needed. Topics to include during a parent information night:
Do you have families that have enquired at your centre but have gone away for the holidays? A centre newsletter is a great way to keep them engaged through updates about your centre, new projects the children are learning and any upcoming events they might want to participate in. Get creative with your newsletters - add images, fun facts about the children, and branding to fit the look and feel of your centre.
It’s a big commitment for parents to put their child into care, not only emotionally but also financially. One of the main reasons parents choose one centre from another is the daily cost. Help parents ease into this financial commitment by offering them casual days in the first few weeks while they are getting used to the new change in their life. A casual day not only allows the parent to choose what day they can place their child/ren into care but also how frequently. This will help them manage what kind of booking pattern they would like to be committed to - it is also beneficial for the centre to have parents start casually instead of a structured booking pattern and dropping down days. This will increase their occupancy at a steady and inclining rate, rather than unanticipated highs and lows in room sizes.
Your local community is your best word-of-mouth marketing tool. Use this marketing tool to help spread the word about your centre. It can be as small as dropping of flyers for their counter (at a cafe, doctor’s office, pediatrician,grocery store) or collaborating with them on a small community project (e.g. your local nursery can donate some seeds to your centre to plant your vegetable patch, and the children can come to the nursery for an excursion and learn more about plants.) The ideas are endless, step outside of the centre and see what opportunities lies out there.
Make sure you look for these essential features from the software providers you evaluate.
The reporting capabilities within ChildcareCRM not only give you an in-depth look at the centre’s performance, but it can also give you insight into what to do next and how to do it better.Customised reports that can help you with your School Holidays’ Marketing Strategies:
Keep in touch with your families through drip campaigns. You have the ability to create a short drip campaign that revolves around the time of the year or a specific event you would like to focus on. Create your emails on ChildcareCRM using our templates or create a custom design. Then, you can pre-schedule emails to go out to families according to certain statuses such as ‘new enquiry’, ‘tour completed’, ‘lost opportunity’, and more. One of the best aspects of automated drip campaigns is that emails are sent to families according to how they’re interacting with you and your communications. For example, send a follow-up email only to the parents who opened or clicked on the last send.
Build on your creativity with our drag-and-drop email editor. Move over plain and boring emails and bring in bright and interactive emails! The drag-and-drop email editor makes it easier for you to brand your emails to your centre’s look and feel, create buttons for calls-to-action, and include different types of media to bring your email to life.
Your message needs to be seen! Send your emails to customised groups with a touch of a button. ChildcareCRM allows you to create different groups based on their interests and lead status, to help you send your emails to the right people. Narrow and maximise your marketing strategies by using two-way group communications.
With families visiting your website to learn more about your children’s services, you’ll want to capture their interest with web forms. Make sure you choose a solution that gives parents the ability to enquire for care right from your website. And you’ll want the ability to create unlimited landing pages with web forms that flow directly into your CRM solution.
Choose a CRM that’s easy to use for you and your team. The more intuitive the interface, the less training and onboarding you’ll need. Look for a solution that cuts down the learning curve and maximises ease-of-use by hiding fields and features you don’t use.
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.
ChildcareCRM is the leading provider of cloud-based CRM software that helps childcare organisations grow their business by boosting enrolment and saving time. Hundreds of centres across Australia rely on ChildcareCRM to automate sales and marketing for their children’s services programs. The ChildcareCRM platform includes lead management, sales and marketing automation, analytics, and online family enrolment.
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