I’ve opened 8 daycare centers, and literally ‘wrote the book‘ on daycare business plans, so I know what it’s like to start from nothing. These are my 7 proven power tips to attract customers into your childcare centers!
1. Lawn Signs
Lawn signs are one of those things that you would never think of but are surprisingly effective. And they’re also free to place strategically in your neighborhood, if you do it right.
Notice how in this example it’s easy to read and process when driving by
One of the reasons lawn signs can be somewhat challenging is because you have to get permission from other people to put your sign out. However, It’s worth introducing yourself to the other business owners in the neighborhood and asking them for their permission to stick it on their property.
The only cost involved is printing the signs themselves. You can use a place such as buildasign.com and buy a bunch for a reasonable price.
2. Google AdWords
This is by far one of the most effective ways to attract customers. There’s nothing better than customers seeking you out and this is exactly what Google adwords gives you. Google adwords is the most powerful form of advertising today. People type “daycare” into Google and your ad shows up! There’s nothing better than a lead who is seeking you out. You may want to hire a consultant because there’s a dizzying array of options that adwords offers, such as targeting people down to the mile of the customer’s location. however if done right it’ll be produce a great response. You only pay if someone visits your site and you can set the budget you want to spend per day. It can be as low as $5 a day.
Make your adwords ads stand out. Talk to people’s desires – don’t be generic!
3. Sandwich Board Sign
If you don’t know what a sandwich board sign (or sidewalk sign) is, here’s an example. When people are driving, they don’t normally turn their head to view your storefront sign, they just zoom right by without notice. This is an excellent way to attract people driving by, head-on and focus their attention on your daycare.
Pro Tip: You can also do the same tactic we discussed with the Lawn signs and ask other local businesses to put these on their sidewalks so you can spread your message all around the neighborhood for free! Buildasign.com sells these for a reasonable price and has easy design tools to create your sign! BAM!
4. Online reviews of your daycare center are practically digital gold
Ever heard of bitcoin?, it’s the new digital gold of the web. For your daycare, this is what reviews are.
Positive reviews / ratings of your childcare center online are literally worth thousands of dollars and are an enormous marketing asset.
Parents carefully consider what other people are saying about your daycare center and this will weigh heavily into their decision.
Getting reviews for your center is a subtle art form: Review sites such as Yelp!, Google reviews and Facebook reviews have gotten smart and do not want to see a flood of reviews all at once. I recommend strategically and individually asking a couple parents per month to write a positive review about you on one of these sites.
Then, after they submit the review (always check to make sure it’s live ) you can enter them into a drawing for a nice prize or consider offering a one time discount as a thank you (ideas of Kris Murray). It will pay off a thousandfold.
If you have negative reviews, consider reaching out to those people who have made the reviews and try and see how you can be of service to them. Perhaps they will lighten up and remove it.
Another way of dealing with negative reviews is to simply respond to the review and explain your side of the story and how you are on top of the situation. This will go along way to demonstrating to viewers that you are trying you’re best to make the customer happy.
Either way, the goal is to build up long term, healthy and consistent reviews. Eventually, if you do get the occasional negative review, it won’t make the slightest dent in your reputation. Following this advice will influence customers to contact you immediately.
Start today by getting a single customer to review your center on Yelp, Facebook or Google reviews.
5. Put a waitlist page on your website
What? “I don’t even have a full daycare, how can I have a waitlist” you say? I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter. The word waitlist itself carries a lot of weight and indicates you already have demand. Instead of having the words “Contact Us” on the website. Turn your “Contact Us” page into “Waitlist / Contact Us” page. Put a form on the page asking relevant questions about your potential customers children. This will be a great lead generator.
6. Get your personal friends and family to rally around your business
Build social momentum on your facebook page with the help of friends and family. Get them to like your posts, etc… Show your potential customers that people are excited about you and wishing you well. It will go along way to establishing trust and excitement about your brand. Encourage your current customers to interact with your posts a little more by liking them. Then , their friends will see the great work you are doing. Social excitement is contagious and can spread in unexpected ways to the people you want as customers!
7. Getting new kids isn’t the only way to immediately make more income at your daycare:
Did you know that at a typical daycare center, up to 20% of daily spots go unused due to absences & vacancies? This leaves you the potential to earn thousands more each month.
Now, your daycare can sell those empty spots to part-time customers looking for additional care.
With Hopping In, you can easily list your available spots to your parents for instant purchase online.
It works by tracking parent absences and vacant spots for you. Then, parents simply browse & book extra days! You literally make more money from your existing customer base, without any extra effort!
Hopping In’s easy to use cloud based app makes it easy to earn more from existing clients.
You don’t need to be a techie for this… it’s easy to get started, all you need is a few minutes and a PayPal address to receive your booking funds. It makes it easy (and fun) for your customers, and more profitable for you!
I started this software company because this was my number one way to get immediate and long-term extra revenue for my daycare. I literally have booked thousands of extra dollars a month using Hopping In at my centers and so have others.
Here’s what Katie’s Kids daycare center has to say about using Hopping In:
“…saying the words, “I don’t know our availability off the top of my head, just go to Hopping In and you can find out and sign up” are such a relief to say. My teachers are even reminding parents to sign up through Hopping In if they would like their child to attend our upcoming Classroom Parties, if it isn’t their regularly scheduled day. I didn’t even have to tell them to do that! I LOVE IT!”
Make your daycare more profitable! - Learn more about Hopping In
If you’re not open yet, add a “Coming Soon” sign on your business
It can take a long time to open a new daycare from scratch. In some states DCFS won’t let you announce that you’re officially a “daycare” until you obtain your license. But in most cases you can put a coming soon sign in your window and start to get inquiries. From these inquiries you will generate a lot of leads that you can use later. Nurture those leads while you are waiting to open so they become customers. Hopefully their desired start date will coincide perfectly with your opening date – so you can get the ball rolling right off the bat.
Thanks for reading my tips! I know these tips will be effective for you. Please feel free to contact me if you need any specific help with these ideas!
Sholom Strick is an expert on the business of running daycare centers and founder of Hopping In, a tool that helps daycare centers earn more when children are absent.
To contact him or for media inquiries email email@example.com