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 Childcare Business Survival Guide – Resources for Communication

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide – Resources for Communication

Parent and family communication has always been important in the Childcare and Early Education business, but now during these unprecedented times during the COVID-19 pandemic it has become even more essential that you keep the lines of communication open with your families.

Whether the communication be in regard to social interactions, virtual learning, community resources, reopening updates, etc. all of these are important as we navigate through this time together. We have put together a list of communication tools that can help you meet these new communication needs during these times with some suggested uses for each one.

 

Communication Tools Within the Smartcare System:

 

Email: Smartcare’s Messaging Feature

Smartcare’s built in messaging feature is great for sending email updates for a variety of reasons. These emails can be sent to all families and employees for center wide updates or filtered to include certain segments depending on the audience that you are targeting.

If you are continuing virtual classes and assignments, you can use email to explain how the virtual learning process will work. Email can also be used to communicate resources available in your community that may be useful or needed during this time. Be sure to add any social media links such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. in your email signature.  These are just a few examples of how you can utilize Smartcare’s built-in messaging feature.

Text Messaging: Smartcare’s SMS (text) Feature

Your childcare center can utilize Smartcare’s text messaging feature to send reminders to families to check their email, announce reopening dates, virtual meetings/events, etc. Similar to the email feature above you can also filter which segments receive these text messages. Note: There is a per message per recipient fee for using this feature.

If you need more information regarding using either of these Smartcare features please refer to the Smartcare Center Web User Guide, our Help & Resource Center, or reach out to your CSM or our dedicated Support Team at by email at support@smartcare.com or by phone at 844-SMARTER (844-762-7837).

For more in depth ideas on how to use Smartcare’s messaging and SMS features, check out this blog.

Additional Communication Tools:

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc

Utilize your social media platforms to encourage engagement with your families, employees, and students. Create posts containing updates, community resources, virtual events, photos, student spotlight, etc. You can also make videos, upload them to YouTube, and share on your social media accounts to keep your families and employees updated and engaged.

Virtual Meeting Rooms: Zoom, GoToMeeting, Join.Me, etc

Virtual meeting rooms are a great tool and can be used several different ways during this time. If you are offering virtual learning you can use them as virtual classes for your students. You can also use them for virtual office hours for parents and/or employees that have questions or concerns while your center is closed. You may choose to schedule virtual events such as family trivia night, virtual class parties, virtual snack time, etc. Note: Many of these third party companies require a monthly subscription fee.

These are just a few examples of features and tools that you can use, the possibilities are endless when it comes to communicating and staying engaged with your families and employees during this time.

 

COVID-19 Business Survival Guide – How Can my Childcare Business Stay Connected to Parents and Teachers?

COVID-19 Business Survival Guide – How Can my Childcare Business Stay Connected to Parents and Teachers?

With school closures throughout the country, Early Learning and Childcare is no exception to the new normal of social distancing in the wake of COVID-19.  This can leave us feeling isolated, lonely and overwhelmed, which is why it is important to stay connected to your families and staff, perhaps now more than ever.

With our routine face-to-face interactions currently on pause, we are all turning to other modes of communication to stay connected.  Smartcare’s messaging functionality can help by making it easy to reach your families and staff via mass email and text messaging.

Here are some suggested topics to stay connected with parents and teachers:

  • Confirmed cases / exposure to coronavirus
  • Closure notifications
  • Closure extensions
  • Planned re-opening dates
  • Availability of emergency care for essential workers
  • Billing impact for families
  • Payroll impact for employees
  • Accessing meals for those who qualify for free & reduced
  • Facility sanitizing efforts
  • Accessing activities to help keep children engaged at home

 

Outside of all the critical details and updates, your families and staff will undoubtedly appreciate you checking in, saying hello and letting them know you miss them and that you can’t wait to welcome them back when it is deemed safe to do so.  Whether you are distributing critical information or simply sharing a virtual smile or hug, it’s only a few clicks away with Smartcare.

You may find yourself asking “should I use email, text or both?”.  To some degree, this is a matter of personal preference, or what you’ve found to be the preference of your clients (if you’ve been fortunate enough to identify the majority population).

 

Here are some things to consider and guide you:

  • Text messaging tends to be delivered and opened / read faster than email. If your message is both urgent and brief, text is sure to be effective; a good example is a school closure notification.
  • If your message is less urgent in nature &/or requires providing a greater amount of detail, email is more efficient; an example might be changes to billing and payment policies and procedures.
  • With both functionalities easily accessible in Smartcare, it never hurts to utilize both; is there such a thing as over communicating, especially in times of crisis?

 

Here are some tips to help you maximize the benefits of messaging in Smartcare:

  1. Identify and reach your target audience. Use of filters, such as classroom or tuition plan, allows you to deliver each message to the intended population (and eliminates cluttering the inbox of others).
  2. Need to drill down deeper? No problem!  Smartcare allows you the flexibility to create and assign ‘custom fields’ or ‘tags’ to identify and reach any audience you need to.  Some relevant examples include:
    • Children enrolled for “emergency care”
    • Children who receive free or reduced meals
  1. Create and utilize templates in Smartcare to help you save time for frequent communications, such as weekly newsletters.

 

Staying connected with your clients is ever more critical during these challenging and changing times; Smartcare is here to help you get the job done with ease and efficiency.

Use Online Enrollment to Modernize your Childcare Facility

Use Online Enrollment to Modernize your Childcare Facility

As a childcare provider, enrollments are exciting for you, because it means new students. However, enrolling a new student also usually means some back and forth with the parents, a large stack of papers, and then filing all those papers away so you can reference them as needed. It can end up being a lot of work, both for you, as the provider, and for your parents.

On top of that, most parents now expect to be able to sign documents online or send items via email. By moving your enrollment online, you can not only exceed parent’s expectations, but you can streamline your processes – allowing for more time doing what you love, instead of managing paperwork!

Here are the top ways that online enrollment can help your center:

 

Save Paper

Whether you’re eco-conscious or are just sick of filing stacks of paper away and struggling to find them later, saving paper is a big deal. With an online enrollment feature, parents can head to your website or click a link in an email to complete enrollment.

Even better, as with Smartcare’s online enrollment feature, once enrollment is completed, you’ll be notified and can go over their information right away. Once they’ve been approved, you can easily push the information into Smartcare. You will always know where to go to find forms in the future, no complicated filing system necessary!

Increase Efficiency

It’s just not efficient to send a stack of papers forms home with a parent to complete. Not only do you risk papers forms being lost, but then upon return, you have to manually check each field and form for completion. Using an online enrollment system means that a parent will have to complete the required fields in order to move along. This makes it so much easier for you to spot check their submissions before approving or denying.

Additionally, with Smartcare’s enrollment feature, you can capture payment for any fees that need to be paid at enrollment, such as deposits or enrollment fees. This means no more needing to take a check to the bank, you can have the funds as soon as they’ve hit ‘submit.’

Enhance Parent’s Experience

Parents today are tech savvy. For some childcare providers this can be a huge adjustment. However, in today’s world, adapting to technology and your customer’s expectations is a must. The enrollment period is one of the first interactions that you have with a future customer, so it’s important that this experience goes well.

When signing up for a new program, most customers expect that they’ll be able to complete everything, including payment online. They expect the experience to be user-friendly and self-explanatory. By wow-ing your parents by this first interaction, you show them that you’re not only going to provide great care for their children, but you value their time as well.

Modernizing your childcare facility can seem overwhelming if you’re still a bit old-school in some of your practices. From attendance management to billing to enrollment, you can improve bits and pieces one step at a time. Enrollment is a great place to start with modernization, because it’s one of the first steps that a new parent completes. Additionally, enrollment is one piece of the puzzle that affects more than just your experience, it also affects parents’ experience and how they view your facility. Moving to an online enrollment system will surely mean improvements on both ends of the spectrum.

Schedule A Demo

Watch our 1 minute intro video above

Your live demo will include how to:

 

  • Send billing and post payments
  • Record attendance history
  • Retain medical information
  • Note incidents, successes, and birthdays
  • Make payments at your center
  • Create real-time communication with parents
  • Use leads to nurture prospective families
  • Meet all your center’s needs with our cohesive child care and preschool software solutions

Meet all your center’s needs with our cohesive child care and preschool software solutions

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Are you getting ready for longer, sunnier days, spring break and getting one month closer to the end of the school year? So are we! Spring is the perfect season to close out winter and do some spring cleaning. Here are our tips for spring cleaning at a childcare center:

1. Floors
Sanitize floors to remove muck and germs that built up over winter.  Steam cleaning hard surfaces like linoleum or hardwood and using a carpet cleaner to clean carpets is your best bet.  Search for professional cleaners in your area.  Or, if you’re on a budget, most home improvement stores offer affordable rental options.  Plan on about an hour per room and 24 hours to fully dry.  A great way to clean floors on a budget is to rent cleaners, come in on a Saturday morning (or another day you don’t have kids in school), clean and be done by lunch time, and then come back on Monday to a facility that feels like new!  We’ve heard it turns into a team event too – just don’t forget to bring the donuts!

 

2. Organize
Your center is probably no stranger to a mess – crayons, markers, books, toys get strewn around.  Here are our favorite organizing hacks:

  • Supply buckets: get small (1 gallon or less) buckets and keep crayons, markers and other small supplies separated into their own bucket. The handles make it easy for kids to carry without spilling, and clean-up time become a game: match the right supply to the right bucket.
  • Prep bins: get larger tote bins and put all supplies for a single activity into each bin. For example, if you’re doing a self-portrait, put paper, crayons and other materials into a bin with a lid.  When it’s time for the activity, take out the bin, distribute supplies and when it’s time to clean-up, everything goes back in the same bin.
  • Label maker! Need we say more?  Having a label maker for your supply buckets, prep bins and other boxes makes it easy to find what you’re looking for and easier to put things back where they belong.

 

3. Files
Spring is a good time to shred old files.  Make sure you know your state’s laws for record retention.  7 years is usually a very safe bet.  Many communities offer free shredding events to safely dispose of documents that are no longer needed.  Check out Shredit.com to see if there’s an event near you.

 

4. Upgrade Systems
Just as you sanitize your floors, organize your supplies and get rid of files you no longer need, spring is also a great time to upgrade your systems.  Do you have a mobile app for parents to manage attendance, pay bills and get updates?  Do you have an electronic registration form?  How about a way for parents to book a tour on your website?  If you don’t or your current systems are older than the documents you’re shredding, give us 30 minutes to explain how Smartcare can help organize your day-to-day operations, delight parents and increase revenue.

 

Interested in learning more?

Schedule a Demo

Watch our 1 minute intro video above

Your live demo will include how to:

  • Send billing and post payments
  • Record attendance history
  • Retain medical information
  • Note incidents, successes, and birthdays
  • Make payments at your center
  • Create real-time communication with parents
  • Use leads to nurture prospective families
Meet all your center’s needs with our cohesive child care and preschool software solutions

The Daze of Summer

The Daze of Summer

Summer can be a unique time for a childcare center. Normal routines get disrupted. Everyone seems like they are in vacation mode. And yet, you probably feel busier than ever. We think summer is a great opportunity expand your program offerings and think about improving in the next year.
Summer Activities

Summer activities can present different challenges and opportunities than the school year.

Do you run a summer camp or offer summer specific activities?  Consider offering summer programs for school-age children.  This is a great way to make use of extra space at your facility and helps parents find quality care. 

Smartcare can help in several ways:

  • If you’re already using Smartcare, use our messaging feature to message parents to promote your summer programs.  Chances are many of your parents have school-age children!
  • Better yet, if you’re using Smartcare, ask your families if they have school-age children and use tags to tag families with school-age children so that you can filter for just that group, and message them specifically.
  • Use our online enrollment feature to quickly get information about children enrolling in summer programs and eliminate data entry.
  • Use our billing feature to bill by attendance, flat fee or on-demand, based on the fees for your program.
  • Use our lesson planning functionality to build engaging activities specific to your summer program, keeping kids engaged and parents satisfied.
  • Track attendance for all of your programs, keeping children safe and giving parents peace of mind.

 

Getting Ready for Next Year

In addition to using summer as an opportunity to expand program offerings, summer is also a great time to get ready for next year. 

Use the change in pace to look back at the prior year and assess your performance.  These are just a few questions to ask yourself.  Each situation is different, but in general, this a good place to start.

  • Were you in ratio compliance for all your classes for the prior year?
  • Are you collecting over 98% of charges in less than 30 days?
  • Did you meet your budget, especially for teacher payroll?
  • Did you complete assessments on all children and discuss the outcome with parents?

 

Smartcare has tools to help you improve next year.  At a high level, Smartcare is an all-in-one platform to manage a childcare center, with functionality including:

  • Manage multiple locations from anywhere
  • Online enrollment and registration
  • Manage attendance
  • Automate billing, payment collection and account integration
  • Class, student and teacher scheduling
  • Employee hours worked and paid time off
  • Curriculum, lesson plans, assessments and activity tracking
  • Custom reporting
  • And much more!

Schedule a Demo

Watch our 1 minute intro video above

Your live demo will include how to:

  • Send billing and post payments
  • Record attendance history
  • Retain medical information
  • Note incidents, successes, and birthdays
  • Make payments at your center
  • Create real-time communication with parents
  • Use leads to nurture prospective families
Meet all your center’s needs with our cohesive child care and preschool software solutions

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