Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours

Recently we teamed up with our friends at IntelliKid Systems to learn how you can add Virtual Tours to your enrollment toolbox. The informative webinar went over how to make a virtual tour, why it should be an important part of your strategy and all of the ways you can maximize its effect on your enrollment.

Increasingly, parents are asking to tour a new facility remotely.  Even in the pre-COVID world, this request would arise from parents who were moving and wanted to see a school before their move or from parents who are strapped for time and could squeeze in a virtual tour during work but couldn’t make the actual trip. 

Now, in the post-COVID world, virtual tours help parents reduce exposure.  Most importantly, virtual tours aren’t mutually exclusive with in-person tours, meaning you’re likely gaining tours that wouldn’t have happened otherwise which can only benefit your school’s enrollment. 

For all these reasons, virtual tours should be part of your offering.  Now that you understand why virtual tours are important, let’s discuss how best to conduct a virtual tour. 

The first thing you should do is to map out the way you want to showcase your facility. It’s important to decide which classrooms you will be showing, what outdoor yards, and to have a concise walking path between all of the elements of the tour. Then, you will film the tour from the point of view of someone walking around. It’s important to remember that the camera will be your prospective parent’s “eyes” so be sure to capture all of the unique elements you normally would in an in-person tour. In our webinar, we discussed the right tools for the job, which in our case was a iPhone 11 pro camera and a stabilizer made by DJI. Once you have your video ready, you can then connect with your prospective parent over a few different video conferencing services. We discussed a few of the options, including Zoom and Google Meets. While sharing your screen, and your facility video, you can then be free to walk the inquiring parent through your building just like you would in-person! Using this method allows you to engage and build a relationship with the parent, answer any questions while still maintaining distance and adhering to any new guidelines that prohibit in-person tours. 

For a more detailed discussion about the methods, impact and to learn how to make your own virtual tour, we encourage you to watch the recording of our recent webinar with IntelliKid Systems.

Good luck!

COVID-19 Business Survival Guide –  Marketing my Childcare Business

COVID-19 Business Survival Guide – Marketing my Childcare Business

During this unprecedented time, many childcare facilities are unsure about the future. This series of blogs covers ways to help our audience navigate this confusing time. Below you’ll find tips for marketing your childcare business and building an audience so that when things go back to normal, you can bounce back quickly!

It may feel like in a time of crisis, marketing your business is a low priority, as you switch gears and focus on surviving. Many childcare businesses are seeing a hit to revenue, whether you’ve had to close your doors, or have lost a number of children who are now at home for various reasons.

There are many ways to reach out and be helpful to your community and build your business as well. By keeping top of mind with potential students and providing helpful resources and tips during this time, you’ll be the first choice for many when it comes time for children currently at home to head back to care. Here are some of our favorite ideas for engaging and building an audience during this time:

Be Helpful

Posting helpful resources and tips is a great way to engage with people on social media. Brands that focus on helping and not just selling with their marketing efforts consistently see a larger social media audience and better engagement with their content. By reaching more people, you’re getting in front of more prospective parents and you’re handing out helpful content. It’s a win-win.

Not sure where to start? Check out this list we compiled with free educational resources.

 

Get Social

People are getting increasingly creative with how they are connecting on social media. Virtual workouts or happy hours are our new norm. How can childcare get involved?

Consider doing activities or projects that you open up to the larger community via Zoom or Skype. Then, children who would otherwise be doing schoolwork at home can get involved with their peers.

Many businesses are offering (or selling) products via curbside pickup. Schools and childcare providers can offer activity kits or homework packets. Have parents call ahead and set up a pickup time with you, so you can meet them at their car.

 

Pre-sell Offers or Host Contests

Consider offering discounted tuition or programs for parents who enroll during this time, even for future dates. This can be a great incentive to boost your enrollment.  Another fun option is running a contest, where the winner receives discounted or free tuition.

A great example is of Dominic Michael Salon, out of St. Louis. They are running a “Quarantine Roots” competition. Send photos of your roots to them by tagging them and using a specific hashtag. Then, they award the winner 3 months of color treatments.

How about a ‘Homeschool Fail’ contest for all of those parents who are homeschooling for the first time? Not only would this create some super funny content but can be a great way to make prospective families aware of your facility.

We are all feeling out of sorts right now and small business owners most of all. Hopefully, with these tips, your childcare business will not only survive this crazy time but thrive when things get back to “normal.”

Marketing Musts for  Your Childcare Center

Marketing Musts for Your Childcare Center

Creating a marketing strategy for your childcare center may seem like a difficult, time-consuming, and expensive process. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be!

Marketing is a key component to ensuring your enrollment is consistent, you have a healthy waitlist, and your center climbs to the top of every family’s “must-see” childcare list. These marketing musts will help cut out any confusion about marketing and help you grow your center!

Understand Your Audience

Make sure you know who your marketing efforts need to reach. Naturally, parents are who you think of first; but sometimes you need to think about expanding your audience to those that influence parents. This could be childcare workers, grandparents, and other caregivers.

Question: Do you know where your audience is most likely to be engaged?

Four out of five prospective parents that check out your center will now be millennials. Reach millennials where they are most likely to be: Online, using social media, and looking at reviews of local childcare centers.

Question: Where in your community can you reach your audience? Do these places offer advertising spaces or opportunities?

Are millennials with school aged children at the YMCA, fitness centers, community events, churches, or local restaurants? Are they reading news online, watching tv or listening to the radio? Ask current parents how they learned about your center. Chances are you will get new ideas from asking your families.

Question: What other organizations in your community are interacting with your audience? Can you partner with them to host events or otherwise support each other?

Be Consistent in Your Messaging

It’s important to deliver consistent tone, style, and branding to your prospects. This means you should have a logo and standard colors and type font that you always use in advertising.

  • Does your website, marketing materials, emails, and other promotional materials have consistent fonts, colors, and images?
  • Do you have a mission statement for your center? If so, is it reflected throughout your external messaging?
  • Do you have access to engaging pictures or stock photos to enliven your marketing materials? If not, try a royalty-free stock image service like Pixabay.

Choose your Marketing Methods Wisely

Understanding both inbound and outbound marketing methods will help you determine which type to use in various efforts.

Do you use any inbound marketing? Inbound marketing focuses on the prospect and their needs, challenges, and goals instead of on your center. Try offering your prospects information they will find truly valuable. Maybe create a checklist on how to choose the best childcare center, or a document that will help them rate the different childcare centers they tour.

Does your outbound marketing work? Outbound marketing is product-oriented, relies on sales incentives, and keeps the focus on you, the business, and your products and services. Track when these offers work, and when they don’t so you can continue to increase your return on investment.

Most Importantly

Great marketing is never a one-and-done deal. Perhaps the most important marketing must for your childcare center is to keep your marketing efforts rolling. Keep asking new families how they heard about you. With your creative ideas flowing, chances are you’ll have great marketing and more families coming to you.

At Smartcare, we are committed to helping ease the burden of your administrative tasks to give you more time to promote your business.

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