Our previous blog covered effective ways to market your childcare business. But marketing your business is only one component of your childcare success. Childcare occupancy rate needs to remain a high priority for settings of all sizes. These percentages help keep a business running smoothly, especially after dealing with the stress and chaos of the pandemic. To help get you started, here are a few essential tips to improve your occupancy rates.
Understanding the Importance of Occupancy Rates in a Post-Covid World
The pandemic shifted how we interacted with individuals, children, and businesses. Unfortunately, the lockdowns and restrictions weren’t kind to the childcare realm; by end of 2021, nearly 35% of all nurseries closed their door permanently in England alone.
As the world fights the COVID-19 virus, many parents' and caregivers’ anxiety increases over ongoing restrictions, disruptions, or even closures in some locations. In 2022, with restrictions pretty much still in place across many areas, concerned parents scramble to find adequate care for their children while nurseries and childcare settings continue to try and keep children and staff safe. Improving long term occupancy rates can protect your childcare setting while offering long-term security to parents and caregivers.
How can your existing customers help you grow your childcare business?
Current customers can help facilities improve their occupancy rates, particularly if you implement bonuses for parents. Setting up a referral bonus builds a qualified connection between interested caregivers and your facility, often for a reduced fee (compared with traditional marketing methods, for example). These methods should also incorporate local businesses and estate agencies.
Having the right tools for your centre
Higher occupancy rates signify a healthy and viable childcare business, but occasional dips in your rate are common too. Drops in occupancy can be from outside factors like higher levels of competition or changes to the 3-5 age group provisions etc. Implementing the right tools and programs for your setting can improve client retention while reaching new audiences. For example, social media is a mainstream method for businesses to build and develop online connections with consumers. Over 3.5 billion users actively use at least one network regularly. Consider integrating at least two or three popular social media channels into your active marketing efforts.
Cheqdin can help with online registration forms for childcare settings, connectivity to social media channels via an online booking system for childcare providers, and more with direct parent communication tools. Building a network of services to support your current and potential clients is essential, thereby improving client satisfaction simultaneously.
Finally, email marketing is valuable for businesses wanting to stay in touch with current and previous clients. Sending out a regular newsletter with updates, policy changes, and vacancies can improve your chances of filling the slots. Regular contact with current clients can help promote ongoing relationships. It also builds trust and encourages an approachable dynamic that promotes referrals by offering high-quality and shareable content.
15 Additional Ways to Increase Childcare Occupancy Rates
- Make a fantastic first impression: People are more receptive than you believe, noticing small details like hoovering or smells. Have a friend come through the nursery with a fresh pair of eyes to see what you’re missing. Always communicate with staff about parent visits to keep everyone on the same page.
- Develop a professional website: With over 1.7 billion websites online, remaining visible to potential customers is essential for success. Use a template website or hire a professional to create a beautiful online presence.
- Befriend an estate agency: Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, making estate agencies invaluable. Many new residents are looking for childcare shortly after moving, making it a fantastic opportunity for both businesses.
- Talk to local businesses: Ask local businesses if you can leave leaflets or business cards in their establishment. If your budget allows discounted rates, consider offering a promotional price for any staff needing childcare.
- Hang a sign out front: Although it seems like a no-brainer, having a visible, professionally designed banner catches the eye of people walking past and can help parents find your location.
- Have something to say: Open communications with local reporters, whether as a source or simply giving them a new story to write on. The more PR you do, the more valuable your insight and brand become.
- Fill the Void: If you’re unsure how to integrate a new marketing piece, talk to a full-service company or freelancer looking for extra contracts.
- Get talking online: Answer questions, chat with locals and offer recommendations. Look for local parent groups or pages on social media, building your company as a reliable, informative source.
- Build a Google My Business page: Local web search is a crucial component of any nursery. Spend a few moments registering your childcare business through Google My Business to appear in the local search results.
- Host an Event: One of the easiest ways to get new people into your location is local events. These might include charity events, educational seminars, or meet and greets.
- Hit the pavement: Flyers are still around because they’re still a highly effective way to connect with new parents. Consider visiting estate agents, schools, play centres, and doctor’s surgeries.
- Consider radio adverts: You don’t need a long advertisement to become memorable. Consider advertising the facility, age ranges, and a phone number on the clip – preferably as a jingle.
- Offer an incentive: Offer all clients sending referrals a small gift card or promotional price for their service. Your loyal clients are likely connected with other new parents, making them the perfect advocate for your nursery.
- Target Facebook ads: Facebook (also known as Meta) is home to 2.8 billion monthly users, making it the perfect location to increase occupancy rates. Create a simple, elegant facebook advertisement and target the post to your geographical location.
- Build a waitlist: Don’t stop taking information when your occupancy levels are full. Always collect a handful of clients willing to wait for availability and keep them updated on vacant spaces.
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