When we reflect on our tours, we often laser focus on the parent and how they interacted with us (What did they ask? What did their body language say? How did they leave the conversation?) but what about us? What are we bringing to the table in this process?
While the prospect to parent experience usually includes inquiry phone calls and emails, I want to cover the best opportunity you have to prove to potential families that your organization is the best fit for them: tours. Are you and your team doing everything to make these interactions successful?
Break these 8 habits today and watch your tour-to-enrollment conversion improve.
- Assuming the Prospect Parent is Telling You Why They’re Really Touring Your Center
You take time to ask the parents about their priorities for their children. You’re knocking the needs analysis out of the park, but the chances you’ll learn the real reason for the parent’s tour that day are slim (you’re not the only one, most of us have the natural tendency to ask a few questions and start the tour). Like a doctor, we need to ask ourselves, “Is this the real issue or just a symptom?” Before offering to solve the problems bringing them to your center, we need to ask more questions and get to the root of the issue and support the prospective family’s real goals for their children.
- Thinking Your Tour Will Guarantee a Registration
You're not a tour guide, you're a story teller. You need to help those parents discover the best reasons to enroll with you – not telling them why they should. At each stop on your tour, tell a story that will resonate with these families. Have stories in your toolbox for common pain points of the parents touring your school. Third-party stories resonate with people and come off less defensively.
Every good story has three elements:
- A Likeable Hero
- A Roadblock
- A Hero that Emerges Transformed
- Talking Too Much
Too often, especially in the beginning of your relationship with these parents, directors and center administrators think they need to do all the talking because the parent couldn’t possibly know enough about your center to lead this conversation. If there is a quiz at the end of the tour to see who knows the most about your organization, this approach is good. But if the challenge is to know the most about the family and the child enrolling, you’re in trouble. The tour is a conversation. Keep in mind the 70/30 rule: A prospective parent should do 70 percent of the talking during a tour compared to 30 percent by the tour giver.
- Believing You Can Enroll Anyone Any Time
Parents don’t enroll just because you say so. A potential parent must go through a period of self-discovery before making the decision that your center is the right fit for their family. Resistance is pre-programmed and people don’t like being told what to do or how to make the best decisions for their children. A better approach is to ask key questions or relate those third-party stories that allow the potential parent to discover the benefits and advantages of your center versus your competition.
- Over-Educating Parents Instead of Building Relationships
The initial goal of your tour is to learn what the parent would need from you to sign the registration form. Asking questions first and sharing materials, specifics and stories comes next. You may feel the need to share every feature and benefit of your facility, curriculum and staff, but this is not why they enroll. If you build a rapport and connect with them on things that matter to their family, you’ll have plenty of opportunities down the road to school them on those things. Build your relationship today, educate them tomorrow.
- Forgetting You're Also a Decision Maker in the Tour
Every step through the inquiry-to-enrollment process, you should remember that youre deciding whether to continue investing time in the relationship with this new family. If you aren’t a great decision maker, you will see that mirrored in the parent touring. If you're not following up with emails or calls, they won't follow up either. If you're not asking them how they feel about enrolling, they won't ask you how to get to that next step. They're following your lead.
- Reading Minds
Always look for clarity from the prospective parent about what they need and why. When the answer is vague, ask another leading question. Directors who've been in the game a while are usually the guiltiest of “reading minds” because we feel like there’s nothing we haven’t seen at this point (Side note: Can you imagine the book we could all write together???). The problem is when we just make assumptions for these parents, it leads to wasted time and even missed opportunities as you head down the wrong rabbit hole.
- Pretending the Parent Doesn’t Notice a Problem
You have a terrible review out there. There was a disaster in the toddler classroom as you walked in. A teacher raised her voice and you could hear it from the hallway. We’ve all been there. I would bet most of us keep our heads down and pretend it didn’t happen and hope the parent didn’t notice. The best way to avoid potential disaster is to address it before it erupts. Always come clean and be transparent if something problematic is looming or comes up during your inquiry process. The family will respect your transparency, which builds your relationship and creates the partnership mentality you seek.
Have you encountered any of the above situations? How did you find yourself handling them or coming out with the enrollment form in hand? Share below and stay tuned for our upcoming email with REAL directors’ stories of their favorite ways to close the tour and get the enrollment.