Recently there has been a big push toward marketing with social media, which I have been and will continue to be a big part of. Last weekend, at the National Child Care Association (NCCA) conference, I was in a session with Kris Murray, which focused on a different kind of marketing: strengthening relationships with the parents of the children in your care. Kris also encourages social media marketing but this particular session didn't address social media. Kris defines marketing as the process of getting and keepingcustomers.
This workshop focused on retaining your current parents as part of your marketing strategy. Strategically consider your retention rates, know why families leave your program, and realize how cost effective it is to keep your current families.
Kris mentioned that the lifetime value of one family could range from $20,000 to $60,000. She then shared a calculation tool that helps you figure out the monetary value of each family in your care. There is a potential of a lot of money on the table every time a family leaves your care. The question is: how do you stop this from happening? Market to your current families, retaining these families can make it so you don’t have to find as many new families as well as help you get new families.
Here are some ways to strengthen what Kris calls the "loyalty fence" with your current parents:
* Email photos of children or their artwork
* Have daily special touches during drop off and pick up – donuts, apples, coffee or make them laugh on the way out the door
* Don’t forget about those families that have graduated, continue to mail them the monthly newsletter.
Make them feel special, even like local celebrities
* Feature a family of the month
* Have a parent advisory board
* Raise money for a favorite charity of the parent
* Feature the successes of the graduated families in newsletters
Create a connection to you
How do you leverage these relationships you have established with your current families to help you find new families? Referral rewards programs and a testimonial systems. Kris had many great suggestions and examples of how you might want to go about instituting a referral rewards program and testimonial system. Her contact information is below.
While you are considering your marketing plan, don’t forget to consider how to go about strengthening that “loyalty fence” and retaining your current families with that strategy.
More about Kris Murray: Kris has a book, published by RedLeaf Press called The Ultimate Child Care Marketing Guideand has been named one of America’s Top Business Coaches for Centers. She hosts free webinars on Early Childhood Investigations. You can find out more about her specialties, free resources and consulting program here.