Susan Barrons, a KinderCare center director in Addison, Ill., knows a thing or two about attracting families to her center and graciously offered a few tips any director can take to heart to boost engagement at his or her center.
ONE: Where do most of your tour inquiries come from?
Susan: I will be honest, most of my inquiries come from walk in tours. So they inquire and tour at the same time. We also get a lot of referrals, so they will just come with the family who referred them at pick-up or drop-off time.
How do you turn an inquiry into a tour?
With web inquiries, we call each one within one-two days and email within one day. Then I set up task reminders (in Family Builder) to call every few days. I also email after [the tour] as well. We try to personalize those [messages] as much as we can.
With phone inquiries, we try to get them in within that same day, or at the most the same week, for a tour.
With all families, we make sure to set up tasks (in Family Builder) to follow up with them. I use the tasks at least twice a week. I will put in something like “call to thank for touring, see what other questions they may have” or “call regarding if they are ready to turn in the [subsidy] application.”
What’s your secret for family retention? How do you make sure families feel like they’re part of your center community?
For family retention, I make sure to say good morning and good evening to all parents. I know every parent by name and use it as I talk to them. I make sure the teachers say good morning and good evening as well. They also make sure to talk to [parents] about their child and ask questions about home.
I make sure to follow up with any family issues to make sure that they have been resolved.
We do family events during pick-up times so families don’t have to come back [to the center]. We have way more participation with that. We are a mostly CCA center [subsidy] so I make sure I talk with each family about their paperwork and responsibilities and I help them as I can.
I am also fluent in Spanish so with an 85 percent Spanish-speaking population, that helps with building relationships.
Do you have tips for attracting and retaining families? Please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org – your suggestions could be included in a future issue.