Now, more than ever, parents want to know their children are safe and in good hands. And now, more than ever, it’s hard to do that when parents aren’t allowed in the building! How can you bridge that gap and assure parents that their children are in a safe, fun, and nurturing place?
There are three options that I recommend that works for me, and with the right amount of preparation, you are sure to get your enrollments back up!
The three options to offer are:
- Pre-recorded tour of your facility
- Live virtual tour using Facetime, Zoom, Facebook video, etc.
- Live in-person tour outside of business hours
This is probably the least preferred option for a tour since it doesn’t allow you to answer specific questions or tailor it to the needs of the family interested. It is a good option to offer, however, until you can figure out a way to do a live tour with a family.
If you are going to offer a pre-recorded tour, here are some tips to make sure it is received well:
- If possible, have someone professionally record a video rather than a selfie with your phone.
- Make sure the rooms are clean and that children are not in the videos unless they have photo releases.
- Choose an outgoing person. Whoever is giving the tour should be comfortable in front of the camera. That person can be a director or a teacher, as long as they are smiling, energetic, and speak clearly.
- Practice first! Think about what you are going to say, practice it, and then practice it again! This is not a time for improv! If you are worried about forgetting what to say, use a teleprompter. But try your best to be natural and not sound like you’re reading.
- Have a clear intro and clear outro. Start out by welcoming the viewer, sharing a little background on the center, and how you are excited to show the program. Start the video out by wearing a face covering (mask) to show that you are a center who cares and a center who follows safety guidelines. Then explain that you will remove your mask for the sake of the video. (Be sure to mask up throughout the video whenever you are around staff or children during the tour)
- Show one room for each age group and give two or three highlights for each room.
- Remember to hit on the important points that most parents care about (safety, cleanliness, curriculum, staff qualifications, etc.). It’s okay if you leave out some details since this is a short video.
- Post the tour on your YouTube channel and your website. Share it with any family who is not comfortable coming in person or cannot schedule a live virtual tour.
Here’s an example of my own center’s pre-recorded tour:
Live Virtual Tour
This is the next best option to in-person. Because it is live, it helps the family touring feel like they are engaging and interacting as if in person. Whoever does your tours normally should be fine to do the virtual tours since it is really similar. There are many ways things can go south, though, so be sure to follow these tips:
- Use a familiar platform. If you’ve never used Zoom before, this may not be the best time to try it. It’s important to have a few platforms to use since not everyone has FaceTime and not everyone has Zoom. Practice using these a few times so that you are prepared.
- Make sure you have a good Internet connection. Nothing is worse than when your phone says “reconnecting.” If you have spotty reception in some areas of your building, you may want to use data rather than wifi or purchase a wifi extender.
- Use earbuds so that the sound is more concentrated and background noise doesn’t take over.
- Hold your phone or device far enough away from your face when using the selfie mode. No one needs to see up your nose!
- Remember to wear a mask when you’re near staff and children and take your shoes off when entering rooms. It’s important to stick to protocol at all times.
- Walk slowly and steadily. You do not want to cause your potential family to get motion sickness!
- Allow time for questions at the end.
- Don’t forget to give next steps! Email immediately after and send enrollment forms right away.
This is obviously the most ideal since it is what you’re most used to. Some families will be comfortable coming to your center so they can physically see it first hand. It is still important to practice all safety guidelines and make families aware before arriving.
- Make sure potential families wear masks for the duration of the tour as well as wash hands when they arrive.
- Since you, the tour guide, will be wearing a mask the whole time, you’ll need to overcompensate with extra joy, emotion, and energy since your face is covered! Trust me, you’ll be exhausted afterward!
- Consider not allowing families into the rooms, but allow them to peek in (unless they are willing to remove their shoes and have socks on).
- Go back through each room and spray the rooms down after the tour to assure any germs have been removed.
Giving three options shows that you are willing to do whatever families are comfortable with and shows that you care. Offering three options will really help parents feel like they aren’t put in a position where a decision is hard to make. It shows flexibility and professionalism on your part. Whether it’s in person or over the phone, I always follow up by sending some “swag” to the family as a thank you for the tour. Sometimes it’s a tote bag with the enrollment forms and other times it may be a t-shirt. It’s always a nice touch to follow up that way and keep your logo in front of them!
Let us know what other ways you have made your virtual tours go smoothly! What has helped you? Put those awesome ideas in the comments below.