7 ways to increase enrolments in your learning service

With new early learning services opening in neighbourhoods regularly, it can be increasingly difficult at times to fill your rolls. Despite having a high-quality learning programme, affordable fees with a team of qualified, passionate and professional educators and a great location… it can still be a challenge. Maybe all you need to do is use the right tools to become more visible in your community.

What if I told you that there are 7 ways that you can be more visible and increase your enrolments? It won’t take you a lot of time, or cost a lot of money. But you can fill your roll, increase your revenue and stand out amongst other early learning services. Let’s dive in and look at ways you can take action today!

Your community is a powerful resource

It can be a time consuming, long and lonely road when it feels like you are the only person advertising your business and seeking new children to fill spaces at your learning service. You don’t have a marketing degree, and you often feel like you are blindly navigating uncharted territory. Have you considered using your existing community as advocates? Families of children who attend your learning service are THE BEST people to sing your praises. They likely have a range of very real reasons why they think you are amazing, and you can bet they are already sharing these reasons with others. If they know you are actively looking for new children to join your community, they will no doubt have opportunities to share this news with other prospective families. Their reasons for loving your learning service speak to the very heart of your target market. Families who want their precious children to be happy, safe and loved.

Think about how often you may have seen an ad on social media for a product you have heard of. You may contemplate whether this product is for you. However, clicking the buy now button is not so easy. But, if a friend or acquaintance mentions in passing not only that they have this very product, but that they LOVE everything about it and would highly recommend it to others, you can bet this may be the one thing that makes them stop and take action. 

Use digital waitlist and enrolment forms

In this day and age, we are living in a digital world. There is no avoiding it, and if used right, digital solutions can save you time AND money! This is certainly true in the early childhood education sector. Child care software can give you time to focus on doing what you do best while automating a lot of the manual tasks that fill your busy days. 

For families on your waiting list, having a powerful CCMS solution can help you engage with them using digital waitlist forms which keep them up to date. Whether you run a child care centre, OSHC or a kindergarten, Storypark Manage can help you to effectively manage your waitlist and enrolments. All online! You will find our complete and fully customisable enrolment forms give you the ability to get rid of mountains of paper enrolment forms and make the switch to a digital solution. They are so quick and easy, you don’t need to be a tech wizard to use them. Best of all, being a cloud-based platform means you can access them from anywhere at any time. 

You can build customisable enrolment forms that are uniquely tailored to suit the specific needs of your learning service. These enrolment forms are instantly available to use on either the web or on a mobile device. This can make a big impact on parents as it is a simpler and faster way to enrol their child. Did I hear you say referrals? Yes, family satisfaction is a sure-fire way to gain extra referrals over time. 

Does your website make a good first impression?

Did you know that a person can make a decision to buy a product or service within seconds of visiting a website? Although families do take many other more important factors into consideration when choosing a learning service for their child, it is worthwhile to take into account that the first impression they have of your learning service may give them an overall “feel” for whether to proceed. And often, this first impression comes from your website! 

So give your website a critical review, and consider some simple changes that could make a big difference. A website that looks professional can give your prospective families a look into your learning program. 

Have you shared any recent photos of your indoor and outdoor play areas? Is there information about your philosophy, and your learning program? Do you have staff profiles on there? This is the time and place to make sure you are putting your best foot forward, and to show that your teaching team are professional educators and that you provide a high-quality early childhood education for young children. 

In addition, you could add a simple blog to your website and share articles about child development, parenting resources, and other information that will offer value to prospective families. 

The icing on top of your learning programme

As part of your learning programme, offering regular incursions or excursions is an attractive selling point to some families who may be short on time and can’t take their children to “extracurricular activities.” Developing partnerships with local businesses and experts can further extend children’s interests, and enrich your learning programme. You could invite a local dance teacher, yoga instructor, music teacher, or sports coach to provide weekly or spontaneous lessons at your learning service. You could visit local art galleries, libraries or go on regular nature discovery outings. These additional learning experiences that support children to be a part of the local community could be your unique selling point, something that helps your learning service stand out from other centres. 

Simple marketing strategies

When you consider that many businesses employ individuals or whole teams to market their products or services, you can see that it is an essential component in ensuring your learning service has full occupancy. Then when you realise that your budget simply doesn’t stretch to cover employing a marketing wizard, you can see that it is just one of those tasks that you need to tackle yourself.

It doesn’t have to involve big campaigns and flow charts though! Part of marketing is maintaining and sharing your centre’s good reputation. Whether you have been operating for 20 years, or 1 year, it is never too late to start building your reputation. One very simple and effective way of doing this is by using social media. An increasing number of learning services are now using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to share general news and happenings within their learning community. Bearing in mind privacy issues, we recommend continuing to share children’s images in their own private Storypark profile. For social media purposes, you can share children’s work, creations and explorations. You can share interesting community events, or even host your own events. Posting articles and links about child development and learning is another fantastic way to provide value to your followers. This is such an effective way for small businesses to reach ‘potential’ customers… new families and their children!

These days, people do some research before picking up the phone, so showing a little about your learning community and programme, and what your values are can help new families decide that your learning service is the perfect fit for their child.  

Host open days or information sessions

In addition to inviting families to have a private tour/meeting to find out more about your learning community, hosting open days or evening information sessions is a great way to show prospective families exactly how awesome your learning service is. This can allow time and space to give a longer tour of your centre, and for families to not feel as rushed as when they spontaneously visit mid-session. You could share some of the investigations your children have explored recently, or go into more depth as to what resources and activities are available. You can talk a little more about your philosophy, and exactly how you support children’s learning. You can introduce them to Storypark, and invite them to start a profile and add photos and stories for their child prior to enrolling at your centre. 

If you think a daytime tour would work for your team, this is a great opportunity for families to see your team in action, working with and supporting young children. 

Is there a local parent playgroup or coffee group that you could visit to talk about early learning?

Could you invite them to your centre to learn more about how children learn through play? Remember that the more people that are aware of your centre, and your reputation for providing a high-quality learning programme, the better. They will talk with others in their community. It’s all about being visible really!

Communicate communicate communicate

When a parent decides to fill out a waitlist form, the work isn’t done just yet! Don’t forget, they have most likely filled out waitlist applications at numerous learning services, so now is the perfect time to be a little bit “shinier” than other learning services. 

Now is the time to start working on building a relationship with prospective families. Relationships take time to build, and when you consider that parents are looking for somewhere to leave their young children, with people that will care for them, keep them safe, educate and guide them… you can see that relationships are kind of a big deal at this stage right?

It is so important to start work now to build those relationships. Communicating regularly with families on your waitlist will not only help to build trust and relationships with you, but it can also be a way for them to feel part of your learning community. They will start to understand and feel comfortable with the way you operate and become more familiar with the learning community as a whole. Having this regular communication once again can lead to families referring OTHER families to you. It also helps you to understand any changes that are happening (eg, families withdrawing their waitlist application due to moving house), so you can be a step ahead at all times. Whilst communicating in person is definitely the best way to build relationships, written communication is a great way to “keep in touch”.

 

So, which of the 7 strategies will you use first? Start with just one, and slowly build them into your operations and workflow. Remember, it is about working smarter not harder, becoming visible, and building relationships.

 

Posted by Sonya McIntyre

Sonya was born in Lower Hutt and went to Rata Street Kindergarten and Petone Kindergarten. A qualified ECE, she studied at Victoria University in Wellington and has worked with home-based educators, in community-based childcare and in kindergarten. With childhood memories of reading books and writing stories, combined with her passion for all things social media, Sonya segued into her role with us at Storypark as social media manager.


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