So, you have your enrollment up and things are all fine and dandy. Now the real question is, “How do I keep these parents happy?”
It’s a legitimate question since this is such a competitive industry. You need to find out how you will be able to set yourself apart from other centers. How can you give the royal, 5-star treatment on a regular basis?
1. Create a culture that is full of joy and fun.
If the staff at your center are having fun and have great attitudes, then your kids and parents will have fun! It is important that the leadership/director of your center be the “thermostat” for the entire staff. This means that they set the tone. If everyone is grumpy and serious, then you are setting the “thermostat” to stay right there, and that would be a missed opportunity. But if you set the precedence of having a joyful and happy heart, then those around you will rise up to that same “temperature.”
This is all dependent on how the leadership of your center focuses on the “attitude culture” of your center. It is one of the most important, yet missed opportunities that you can have to set yourself apart from other centers. Sit down with the leadership of your center and decide what is most important to create a welcoming and fun culture. Stick to those core values and make sure they are modeled and communicated consistently.
2. Make personal phone calls monthly just because.
Phone calls may seem like a thing of the past, but they make a big difference. Take the time to make phone calls monthly to parents. I know that seems like a lot, but I promise it is well worth the effort.
Oftentimes, parents won’t answer the phone call, and so you can leave a voicemail with something encouraging. Something I like to do is make phone calls when I’m on my way home or on my way somewhere. I make one or two calls a day so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. This gesture will go a long way, and parents are sure to let their other parent friends know that they are so lucky to have a teacher like you.
Keep phone calls super short and just share one thing that happened that day that you were proud of. “Hi Mrs. Smith! I wanted to let you know that Jimmy did such a great job today throwing and catching the ball. It was exciting to see him light up when he caught it! I just wanted to let you know since I saw that you were working on that with him. I hope you have a wonderful night!”
Keep it short and simple. Making a call like this “just because” will be surprising to parents, and they will want to know the catch. This is definitely something that will set you apart because usually a phone call occurs when something negative occurs. Break the mold by making these kinds of calls so that they will be more open and ready for the tough calls that you will also need to make throughout the year.
3. Find informative developmental information and forward monthly.
Parents will often look to you, the educator, as the expert in the field. When you find a good article that has to do with the age group of your students or a specific topic that a parent has inquired about, share it! Be sure that it is reputable and helpful, and then send it. When a parent asks for ideas on what to feed their picky toddler, and you come across a great article from your favorite site like HiMama (wink, wink), share that through email or print it out and send it home. This will show that you are being thoughtful and intentional about their concerns. Try to do this monthly whether it be generic or specific to their needs.
4. Make each daily report personal and informative.
When parents leave their kiddos with you, they don’t have any idea what they did all day except for what their child tells them, which we all know is not always descriptive. So, it’s important that the daily communication that goes home is detailed and personal.
Here’s the fact- parents will know if you are just changing the child’s name each day and sending a broad, generic report. Trust me- they will know! There’s nothing wrong with sending the same details about something all of the students have done, like a science experiment for example, but make sure there are specific details about each student each day. You can share about something specific they did or what their mood was for the day, or something funny they said. Just make sure it isn’t the same for each child. Include photos and videos that have other kids in them, but make sure there are a few that are just of that individual child to show that each student is getting that attention to detail.
5. Make each drop-off and pick-up time personable.
Instead of just bringing a child to their car or waving to a parent or just being polite, try to make each moment with parents personable.
At drop-off, try to greet the parent by name and quickly gain any information about the child’s night or morning. You’ll be surprised how much parents will share in a short amount of time. If a parent mentions a trip coming up or an important event or appointment, try to follow up on that with them after it happens. This will show that you’re being intentional about what is important in their lives.
At pick-up time, try to tell the parent something about their child’s day. It can be short and simple, and try not to make it forced. Having this rapport will make such a difference to parents and really show them that you care.
All of these suggestions are simple and free to do. They definitely take more time and effort, but it always pays off to do this. Parents are entrusting their most important “possessions” to us, and it is important that we treat them as extended family. Since this industry is so competitive, treating each family as if they are special with individualized communication will make all the difference and not only keep those families enrolled, but it’ll encourage them to tell all of their friends!
Want your center to stand out from the rest? Click here to see how HiMama helps childcare providers delight thousands of families each and every day!