5 Ways To Set Your Center Up for Success In 2015

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It’s hard to believe we’re already heading into that last tiny bit of the year, isn’t it?

Whether you had a fantastic year (woo-hoo!) at your child care center or a lackluster one (more boo-hoo than woo-hoo, in other words), here are 5 easy yet effective ways to set yourself up for a stupendous 2015:

1. Determine your Unique Selling Proposition (USP): If you haven’t already figured out what makes your center stand out from all the others in your area, do it now – none of your other marketing efforts will amount to much without this key step. Once you know what you want to focus on, carry the message consistently through all your marketing communications.

2. Create an irresistible New Year’s offer: The start of a new year is a perfect hook for a special, limited-time offer at your child care center.

3. Plan an event: It could be an open house, a pajama party, an ice cream social, or whatever else floats your boat. It doesn’t need to be expensive, just fun and something worth talking about. Get creative, pick a date, and start promoting! And if you can find a community partner to jointly host it with you, so much the better.

4. Review your reviews: Too many child care centers are blithely unaware that there are blisteringly bad online reviews floating around out there – until the phone stops ringing. Google your center’s name, in quotes, and carefully look through what pops up.

You can’t delete bad reviews, unfortunately, but you can and should respond to them (in a professional, non-defensive way) to help set the record straight. You should also encourage happy families to leave positive reviews on those same sites – a good idea even if nobody’s been slandering your good name.

5. Polish up your Facebook page: It’s not enough to simply have a Facebook page – you need to be active on the site, with regular postings and updates.

Ideally, you should be posting at least once each business day. If that seems too daunting, shoot for 2 or 3 times per week and work up from there. (You can schedule posts in advance with services like Buffer; check out my resources page for more details).

Cute quotes and photos of kids are always popular, and special Facebook-only promotions and offers encourage current and prospective parents to follow your page and check back in regularly.

That’s it for now, folks – we’ll be taking the next two weeks off from posting but will see you back here on January 8th. Until then, best wishes for a joyous Christmas (for those who observe it) and a very happy New Year!

Thanks, as always, for reading along with us – I can’t wait to show you what we’ve got planned for 2015 here at Daycare In Demand.

Click here for your free copy of our exclusive report, 64 Terrific Child Care Marketing Ideas.

Do You Have The Time?

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When I was in my mid-twenties, I had a particularly fraught “friend spat” with a former college classmate. We had largely fallen out of touch, and I was devastated.

I talked to my father a bit about it and explained that the reason I hadn’t heard much from my friend lately was that she was just too busy, which was her stated reason for being so distant.

It made sense to me, but my dad wasn’t buying it. “You know, Jen, even if she’s busy, she’s probably got time to go out to dinner and watch Seinfeld and do a whole bunch of other things. You’re never too busy to do the stuff you really want to do.”

Implied but not spoken, of course, was the real truth of the matter: You, Jen, are not a priority for her right now.

His words resonated with me, and I’ve never forgotten them. What I’ve come to think of as “The Seinfeld Rule” is 100% true. I suppose there are some folks in this world who truly don’t have a moment to spare – Navy Seals, the President of the United States, anyone mid-Everest ascent – but they are exceedingly rare exceptions.

For the rest of us, we have the time – we always do. It’s just a matter of how we choose to spend it.

It’s not that you don’t have the time, but that it’s not a priority. These are very different beasts, and it’s important to be honest with ourselves, and with others, about the difference. Excuses about being too busy are almost always just that: Excuses.

A corollary to The Seinfeld Rule is that we can tell what’s most important to us by looking at how we actually spend our time. This one can be somewhat horrifying if you come to realize that knowing the ins and outs of the various Kardashian sisters and eating big blocks of chocolate are what truly matters to you, but there’s just no way around it: How we live becomes who we are.

I’m presenting this entirely without judgment – speaking as someone who regularly wrestles the siren song of both Facebook and the above-mentioned big blocks of chocolate – because it’s helpful for all of us to step back from time to time and make sure we’re on the right path with our time, our goals, and our priorities.

This is especially true as we get caught up in the perceived “should do”s and “must do”s of the holiday season, and also as the fresh slate of a brand-new year approaches.

The more attuned we are with what’s really important to us, the better we spend our time – and the better our lives (and child care businesses!) become. It’s very simple, really, even though it’s never easy.

Sometime before the end of the year, step back and take a little time – even just half an hour or so – for a clear-eyed, honest look at your top priorities for 2015 (both personal and business), and the time-wasters in your life you could really do without.

It will be time well-spent, I promise – even if you think you just don’t have a moment to spare.

You do.

Click here for your free copy of our exclusive report, 6 Easy Ways To Boost Enrollments and Attract the Very Best Staff.

You’ve Got Mail?

mailboxMy husband, Eric, always gets very excited when he “wins mail” – meaning a day he gets more mail than I do. This rarely happens, as I am on more junk mail lists than him, and it’s really a game that only he is playing…but, hey, whatever makes him happy.

He was particularly chuffed about beating me at mail this past Saturday, given that it happened to be my birthday. The next day, however, as we saw the mail truck rumble by, he graciously pointed out that I might have a chance to redeem myself.

I was more confused than anything else. As is so often the case these days, I feared I might be losing my mind.

“Um, today’s Sunday, right?” I asked, glancing at the very thick newspaper on our counter for confirmation.

“Yeah, you’re right,” Eric responded. “That’s odd. Did someone steal a mail truck?”

The mail truck stopped at our next-door neighbor’s house, departed, and returned about half an hour later with a package for our house. Clearly, our everyday mailman, Brian – a rock star among letter carriers – was not behind the wheel. The bona fide deliveries, however, reassured us that Brian hadn’t been mail-truck-jacked by force the previous day.

I remained perplexed by the whole thing until I looked online and discovered that the U.S. Postal Service now has a special deal with Amazon.com; they will be delivering some of Amazon’s packages on Sundays throughout the holiday season. This was news to me, especially since the story said the Sunday deliveries were initially rolling out to major cities only – and our little hamlet of 20,000 people hardly qualifies.

To me, the whole thing represented a missed marketing opportunity for the U.S. Postal Service.

Any kind of mail delivery on Sundays is a big deal in the United States; it’s practically unprecedented. And while I don’t have my finger on the pulse of current events perhaps as much as I should, this should have been a huge, unmissable news story that the Postal Service played up as much as possible.

The same sort of thing happens at child care centers all the time. Something noteworthy happens, whether it’s a new curriculum rollout or new playground equipment, and…crickets.

Your current families and/or teachers may be excited about the development, but nobody else is going to know about it unless you tell them.

This can be as simple as writing a press release or a Facebook post, or as grand as hosting a special event, depending on the type of news you’ve got brewing. But do make an effort to get the word out – you’d be amazed at how easy it is to get people talking about your center once you start publicizing all the great things you’re doing.

Remember: It’s no fun to win mail if you don’t tell anyone about it.

Click here for your free copy of our exclusive report, 64 Terrific Child Care Marketing Ideas.

Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood?

kids on sidewalkMy husband’s old yet highly beloved pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses broke the other day, so I took them downtown to see if anyone could fix them.

The optical shop couldn’t do anything, but they referred me to the jeweler around the corner. The jeweler will be able to solder the broken frame and have the sunglasses back to us within two weeks.

It’s not lost on me how lucky I am to live within walking distance of a downtown that offers such things, a fact for which I am eternally grateful. I don’t take it for granted that these small businesses will always be there, so I try to support them and shop local whenever I can.

What’s great about the child care business is that it’s inherently local and always will be. There is simply no way to outsource child care (and the attendant diaper changes!) to a distant land – and your customers, too, all live and/or work near your center.

Even the most hyper-connected Millennial mom, tethered at all times to no fewer than four electronic devices, cannot opt for an online solution to take care of Mia and Logan while she’s busy at work; there’s no app for that.

For you and your child care business, “think local” isn’t a trendy catchphrase. It’s a way of life.

This is an absolutely wonderful thing from a marketing perspective that too many child care centers overlook entirely. You are your neighborhood, and you should make the most of it:

  • Play up the history of your building, if it’s lengthy and/or unusual.
  • Emphasize how many staff members grew up in the area – some may even have attended your center themselves back in the day!
  • Publicize local kid-friendly events to your families.
  • Start a food or toy drive to benefit local charities around the holidays.
  • Have special staff or parent meals catered by local restaurants.
  • Cross-promote with other local businesses that share your target market.
  • Raise money for worthy local causes.
  • Invite local police officers, firefighters, and other people with interesting jobs to come in and talk to the kids.
  • Bring small goodies around to the other businesses in your neighborhood every now and again, just because.

The list goes on and on. And there’s no downside – the more connected you are within your community, the more positive buzz you generate. It’s also a great way to strengthen relationships, build trust and engagement, and give back to the community that supports your likelihood (which, in all probability, is your passion as well).

So who are the people in your neighborhood?

Click here for your free copy of our exclusive report, 64 Terrific Child Care Marketing Ideas.

Note: There will be no new post next week due to the holiday – Happy Thanksgiving! We’ll see you back here on Dec. 4th.

Life Is NOT Like a Box of Chocolates

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Yesterday afternoon, the kids and I made a quick run to the food store to get a single – but crucial – ingredient for dinner.

Given that a) the kids are 4 and 2, b) our jaunt took place late in the afternoon, and c) nobody had napped all that much, the excursion went about as well as you’d expect.

This is even before taking into account the fact that I had to be rescued twice at the self-checkout lane from kindly store personnel after I accidentally double-scanned an item and subsequently noticed that Nicholas was industriously loading up our bag (and throwing off the scanner) with numerous boxes of trail mix.

But I still count the outing as a great success because we arrived home not only with the key dinner ingredient but also a box of Russell Stover chocolates.

I am no chocolate snob – I bought about eight pounds of Halloween candy knowing that we routinely average .03 trick-or-treaters at our house each year – but Russell Stovers are my absolute favorites. And they went up even further in my estimation when I saw they had a special assortment, the one I wound up buying:

Nut, Chewy & Crisp Centers 

Now, this is pretty specific, when you think about it – almost insanely so. It’s not a box of dark chocolates, or a box of milk chocolates (they have those, too) but a box specifically catering to lovers of caramels, nut clusters, honeycombs, toffee crunches, Roman nougats, and the like. Me, in other words.

It is also a box specifically designed to repel lovers of cherry cordials, coconut creams, raspberry chiffons (I always wind up passing those along to Lorelei, who loves their bright pink insides), plain old milk or dark chocolates, and anyone with nut allergies.

As my husband pointed out, it’s a very anti-Forrest Gump marketing approach. While you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get when you pluck a chocolate from your box of nut/chewy/crisp centers, you have a pretty good idea. And it’s all good.

The natural tendency, when marketing child care (or anything else) is to try to cast as wide a net as possible to appeal to a very broad audience. But this almost never works; when you market to everyone, you appeal to no one. This is because people are individuals, with very specific needs and preferences.

Giving me exactly what I want (nut, chewy, and crisp centers) works much better than trying to be all things to all people. It works because you create a group of delighted, raving fans while neatly sifting out those people who aren’t a good fit for you for one reason or another.

Unless you niche things down too far – which is actually pretty hard to do – the more specific you can get about your unique offerings and who you’re perfect for, the better.

Remember: You don’t need the entire world to enroll at your center. All you need is enough kids to get and stay fully enrolled with a healthy waiting list. Of all the thousands of families in your area, you need just a few dozen – or maybe even a few hundred, if you are a large center or have multiple locations – to achieve this.

So if you haven’t already, take some time to sit down and figure out precisely who you want to serve. And create a unique assortment of delicious offerings just for them.

Click here for your free copy of our exclusive report, 64 Terrific Child Care Marketing Ideas.