You and your team have a lot of parents to keep up with. Sticky notes and enrollment binders can only go so far when you’re juggling different stages of the enrollment and retention processes for multiple families.
So, what exactly is the parent experience and why is effective communication at its core?
Today’s Parent Experience
The parent experience defines the journey a family takes from initial inquiry to registration, all the way through to enrollment. In addition, retain families for greater enrollment success.Unfortunately, the currentprocess for parents is full of obstacles that can cause prospective families to drop out of your enrollment pipeline and leave enrolled families looking for other care options. If you have a 6-step parent journey, you have dozens of key conversion points where parents can become disengaged with your center.
In a perfect world, the parent enrollment experience flows easily through each stage. Consistent, meaningful communication that helps guide families throughout the parent experience increases both enrollment and retention rates.
Step 1—Parent Inquires about Several Childcare Providers
The enrollment journey begins with parent research and inquiries.
New inquiries often take place through your website, landing pages, Facebook page, email, or even via phone call. ChildcareCRM found that 51% of our users’ new childcare center leads came from online sources. However, some centers don’t respond to the first inquiry for days or even weeks due to busy center staff and administrative overload. Make it easy for staff to follow up by automating email and text messages.
Step 2—Parent Tours the Center
If the parent makes it to the next step, they’ll want a virtual or in-person tour of your center. But the scheduling process itself is often challenging. Valuable time is wasted with back-and-forth emails and calls while trying to pick a date and time for families to tour the center. Enable parents to self-serve with a digital tour scheduler on your website where they can select a date and time that fits their schedule.
Step 3—Parent is Interested but in a Holding Pattern
After the parent completes a tour, they may enter a holding pattern where they’re not yet registered or waitlisted but have shown strong interest in your center. Inconsistent or no follow-up after the tour leaves the parent searching for other options. Be sure to increase communication during this period to keep the family engaged! Use post-tour surveys to gauge their interest in your program and follow-up with texts, emails, and phone calls at regular intervals to ensure you stay top of mind.
Step 4—Parent is Ready to Enroll for Childcare
The parents are ready to enroll but first, they must fill out extensive childcare registration paperwork and provide required medical documents. This can take weeks and usually requires multiple trips to the center to pick up and drop off paperwork.Provide easier, faster ways for families to enroll by offering digital registration solutions so families can complete forms anywhere, anytime while also speeding up the entire process.
Step 5—Parent Pays Childcare Enrollment Fees
After enrollment forms are complete, the parent needs to pay enrollment or waitlist fees. Parents have to drop off cash or a check at the center, creating a manual process for childcare staff who must deposit money at the bank.
Today’s parents prefer online payment options as 48% have never written a check and many don’t carry cash. Use digital payment solutions that synch with your digital forms to ensure you receive fees promptly.
Step 6—Parent is Enrolled but Now You Have to Retain Them
The cost of turnover is extremely high. It's estimated that it costs twice as much to attract new families to your center as opposed to retaining current families. This makes keeping families enrolled just as important as gaining leads and enrolling new children.Once a parent has enrolled their child, continue to communicate with them regularly. The first 3 months at a new center are critical for childcare enrollment retention.
Optimize the Parent Experience for Greater Enrollment Success
Keeping up with leads and new families is a tough job, especially considering everything else on your daily to-do list. Missing a lead or delaying a tour every now and then may not seem like it has a big impact, but these small mistakes start to add up quickly. Start focusing on how you can optimize the parent experience at your center(s) for 2022 to increase childcare enrollment and retention rates.
Download our full 2022 Building Blocks Report to gain a deeper understanding of how to optimize the parent experience; with data-driven insights, childcare industry trends, and detailed best practices to help grow your childcare business.
Hope Dasher is a marketing professional with years of SEO content writing and social media strategy experience. With a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Dallas in Psychology and Child Development and an emphasis in language, she has extensive knowledge in the childcare system, effective marketing strategies, and copywriting. Hope serves as a copywriter for ChildcareCRM’s marketing team.