As you launch your enrollment recovery plan for re-opening your centers, one of the most essential facets is a strong, consistent, follow up strategy. Here are a few steps below to consider:
Action #1 - Determine WHO your target audience is for follow up action. You will get the greatest return on your efforts if you choose multiple groups who can either enroll with you or refer parents to you.
- Enrolled Families – Now is prime time to reach out to families to welcome them back and to gather information about their needs for your services. Even though many parents are anxious to get back to a more normal routine and to have their children at your school, the ongoing pandemic has likely caused a shift in their needs for center-to-home learning experiences. Exploring those needs can help you refocus your business model and your future family communications, and thus regain and retain their enrollment.
- Prospects – Allow time for follow up with qualified inquiries to convert them to visits and enrollment. These new enrollment prospects are perhaps now even more anxious than before about issues around cleanliness and classroom structure, so they will respond well to frequent touchpoints with meaningful messages to help them make a good buying decision.
- Wait List Families – With new limits on group size, you may not yet be able to serve all parents who want to return as you re-open. These families undoubtedly have lots of worries and questions about availability in your center. They need communication initiated by you that goes beyond letting them know where they are on the list and when you anticipate an opening. Reaching out to them can calm their fears and make them feel part of your center’s family now and until their actual start date.
- Lost Opportunities – This is the perfect time to reach out to check in with lost opportunities who inquired but did not enroll over the past several months before the pandemic closed your school. Why? Three reasons… Their situation may have changed and they are now interested in enrolling. They may be able to refer you to a qualified prospect. They will appreciate you showing that you care.
- Parent Ambassadors – Staying in close touch with your Parent Ambassadors now can help jumpstart conversions and veteran family return.
- Community Partners – Many businesses in your area are not only good referral partners, they are looking for ways to kick start their own businesses as shut down orders lift. When you reach out to them with mutually beneficial ideas, you are cost-effectively driving enrollment referrals to your center. Click here for more on enlisting partners to help rebuild enrollment post COVID-19.
Action #2 – Schedule WHEN you will follow up. Follow up is most effective when you actually schedule time on your calendar for the task. Send new prospects a branded, personalized message immediately upon inquiry and a drip campaign of multiple messages until they convert or decline contact. Currently enrolled and wait list families will appreciate – and even rely upon – frequent touchpoints from you and they navigate a new normal in their lives. Other targets may only need periodic contact to achieve your goals, but schedule it so they keep your center top-of-mind. Mix methods of follow up, including email, FB group posts, hard mail (yes, really), texts, and telephone calls.
Using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is a must to maximize efficiency on scheduling follow up. Your CRM is truly your marketing partner with follow up. If you do not currently use a CRM system, I suggest you begin investigating them here.
Action #3 – Build a library of WHAT to include in your follow up contacts. As you continue to follow up beyond initial contact, include resources of personal interest to the recipient. If a current family or prospect has indicated they are concerned about cleanliness, attach a document or link to your updated web page on the additional sanitation measures you are taking since the coronavirus epidemic. Build a library of articles, videos, center event flyers, links to experts, and “Documentation of Differences” branded one-sheets that you can access easily to personalize your follow up and make it of greater value to recipients.
One of my favorite phrases, “The fortune is in the follow up”, is only true if you apply these essential actions necessary to make follow up work to build enrollment. When you do, you can excel at growing and retaining enrollment, post COVID-19 and well into the future.
President, The Julian Group, Inc.
An internationally-recognized expert in child care marketing, Julie Wassom is the original
developer of premier enrollment building sales and marketing training programs for the early
care and education industry. As a speaker, coach and author, she has helped thousands of owners and directors build and retain significant enrollment in their ECE programs. Julie works both on-site and virtually with early childhood professionals who are serious about successfully
generating qualified inquiries, securing enrollment, and increasing revenue. Her firm takes pride
in delivering the customized client services that are The Julian Group’s trademark.
The Enrollment EXCELerator©Video Training Program, Julie’s signature system for
building sustainable enrollment and top-line revenue, is one example of how she provides easy
–to-apply skills, while building comfort and confidence in child care center managers. For
decades, successful early care and education leaders have used the resources in Julie’s
Enrollment Building Success Library as the gold standard of enrollment building training tools.
Author of many Child Care Exchange magazine articles, Julie also publishes a marketing blog
and the weekly Wassom’s 60-Second Enrollment Tips.