How to increase enrollment and revenue for a strong year ahead

Enrollment is constantly changing at a childcare center, and this constant fluctuation can be challenging for childcare directors. Some years there are waitlists while other years you have to hold multiple open houses to increase classroom enrollment levels. Either way, it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything in your power to keep enrollment on the up, not just for yourself, but for your educators as well. As a childcare owner and director, here are some strategies I use to increase enrollment and revenue at our center.

  1. Join every parent Facebook group possible

This might seem silly, but it works! On becoming director at my center, I joined a dozen local parenting groups, and whenever someone asks about suggestions of daycare centers (which happens ALL the time), I jump right in and suggest our center. I also ask other currently enrolled families to chime in when they see that, too. There is strength in numbers, and when multiple families suggest your center in these posts, it gets attention; not even just from the person asking, but oftentimes from other families who have the same interest who can see it. Don’t underestimate the importance of joining these groups and looking for those threads that you can join to mention your program and provide solutions to families in search of care.

  1. Offer incentives to currently enrolled families

When we are needing more enrollment, we love offering incentives to families. One incentive that works well is our referral program. If a currently enrolled family refers a new family to our center, and that new family enrolls, the current family then receives a $100 tuition credit. The best part about this incentive is that it doesn’t really cost us $100 in theory. The reason is because each new enrolled family pays $100 in a registration fee that is not part of our budget. So, this is a no-brainer for us! We also give other incentives like free soccer registration or free family portraits if they win a raffle. And to enter the raffle, we ask families to share posts about open houses, etc. This is something that again, doesn’t cost us anything because we already get a few complimentary packages for this. Work with local organizations in your community and see how you might be able to partner with them to support both your programs. So what can your team offer that is attractive to families but doesn’t break the bank?

  1. Have a strong front door (website)

It is imperative that your website is current with up-to-date photos, information, calendars, forms, etc. Interested families are going to visit your website before they visit your space. Have a really well made video on the front page of your website if possible. The video should have good quality and show your facility’s strengths. Avoid dated fonts and colors, and hire a professional web designer if possible. There should be somewhere very clear where prospective families can fill out an inquiry and request a tour. On HiMama, parents can easily register for your waitlist in just a few minutes using their online registration feature. If your website is confusing, outdated, or just unprofessional, that sends that message that you don’t care about your program, and they will keep moving toward another place.

  1. Maintain a strong retention rate with both staff and families.

As we have all heard, the best advertisement is word of mouth, and that stands true for our center. Because our teachers go above and beyond, and because our families love our center so much, they become walking billboards on our behalf. Parents have nothing to hide, so they will recommend your program to friends and strangers if they love it. So, give them a reason to love it! Using an app like HiMama helps bring parents in as partners to your center. Allowing them to check in on their child in real-time improves both their understanding of the work you do, and elevates their overall parent experience. You also want to make sure your staff love working there. Go out of your way to help them feel loved, seen, and known. Catch them doing awesome things and celebrate wins often! If you do that for your staff, then morale will stay high, and it will naturally trickle down to the families. 

  1. Invest in social media boosts and google adwords

While mailings still can work for some of the demographic, social media is definitely the best way to get your message out. Invest in boosting some of your promotional material and target the audience that best describes who you are trying to reach. Here’s a quick tip: Create a post and then ask a good handful of your enrolled families to like, comment, and share that post. Then after there’s some good engagement on that post, pay to have it boosted. This will give you more “bang for your buck.” You’re welcome 😉 

Every program is different, but every business needs to have a plan in place to keep numbers strong. These are just a few ways to help maintain and increase enrollment going into the year ahead. Some of these strategies are absolutely free and just take time and intention.  Others do have a cost, but well worth the investment for what you get in return.  Besides what is in this list, what does your center do to increase enrollment?  Type them in the comment section below!


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Missy Knechel

Missy is a professor in the early childhood department at Eastern University and director of Victory Early Learning Academy, a childcare center that she started ten years ago. Prior to that, she taught Kindergarten and second grade for a total of 10 years. She has been married to her best friend, Jason, for 18 years, and together they have four beautiful children ages 8, 9, 12 and 13 in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time, Missy loves to bake, read historical fiction, sing karaoke and travel to Central America on short term missions.