One of the questions we hear most frequently from childcare organizations is: How can we commit families to make a decision and boost enrollment?
This is important for many reasons, but especially for planning purposes. If you know your enrollment levels in advance, you can adjust your personnel and equipment needs accordingly.
For parents, however, committing early to make your life easier is probably a low priority. After all, everyone likes a little extra time to make a decision.
So, how do you get those deposits rolling in sooner rather than later? Try these three tips!
How to Boost Enrollment Tip #1: Your existing customers should be your first order of business
It’s always easier to do business with your existing customers than with new customers. Getting current families to commit to next year’s enrollment should be the easiest task. It should come first, not last.
In many cases, this logic is turned upside down. Centers often focus more on acquiring new families than on re-committing current families.
Of course, acquiring new families is important. New enrollment in the lower grades is key, since these families will hopefully stick around for many years.
But what if you could tackle the low hanging fruits early on, collect the cash, and then move on to new family acquisition with full focus? How much more confident would you be about your strategy? How much more effective would you be?
Our enrollment tip #2 will help you successfully accelerate conversion of existing families.
How to Boost Enrollment Tip #2: Offer tiered pricing and time limited discounts
The best way to get anyone to make a decision is to create urgency. Sure, you could say, “Please, it’s really important that we know your plans for next year in advance.” But that’s not exactly compelling.
What really gets people moving? The fear of missing out on some good value. And what creates value? Discounts!
One proven approach is a strategy often used by event promoters, which we’ll call tiered pricing. Just like you, event promoters need a head count as early as possible. This way, they can plan staffing and other accommodations.
Here’s what tiered pricing looks like in a childcare setting (dates and discounts are illustrative):
Tier 1 – Early Bird: Enroll by April 1st, get 5% off annual price
Tier 2 – Later Bird: Enroll by May 1st, get 3% off annual price
Tier 3 – Standard pricing any time after May 1st
Think about optics and display your discounts in the most appealing form. For instance, saying that you’re giving a $1,000 discount is probably more appealing than saying you’re giving x% off tuition if x is small. To be safe, you can always include both the % and the $ amounts.
And if you’re thinking that your organization can’t afford to give out any discounts, think again. Consider the time and effort you’ll save by using a highly effective strategy. Plus, you’ll avoid the inconvenience of ending up way over or under target and having to re-staff your team at the last minute.
How to Boost Enrollment Tip #3: Communicate well and often
Communication is key. If you neglect it, all your other efforts will produce little results.
If you decide to roll out any strategy that involves your customers making a decision by a certain date, start communicating early. Accelerate the frequency of communication as the deadline approaches.
For example, if you decide to implement a tiered pricing strategy, you could send out a first communication 1-1.5 month prior to the deadline of the first tier. Explain in detail what you’re doing and why.
This should be followed by communication 2 weeks, 1 week, and 3 days prior to the deadline, and even on the date of the deadline. These notices don’t have to be lengthy or repetitive. In fact, they can (and should) become shorter and shorter as the date approaches. Later notices should be more reminders than anything else.
You should also communicate across different supports (email newsletters, paper handouts, Facebook groups) so that no one is left out of the loop.
If this feels like harassment to you, it shouldn’t. It’s unlikely that many families will act on your first notice, and many will want to leave the decision to the last minute (i.e. the discount deadline). As the date draws closer, it’s important that you remain top of your parents’ minds.
Your parents are just like any consumer: They react to well crafted incentives and will reward you with their (early) business. While you can apply any of the above tips on your own, adopting a tool like a tuition management system can simplify the process and save you time.
TUIO is the #1 billing & payments platform in the educational space. Principals, owners, administrators and daycare supervisors save hundreds of hours each year automating their administrative billing tasks on TUIO and providing families with a secured TUIO account where they can seamlessly provide pre-authorizations for bank account and credit card payments of their upcoming school or daycare invoices. If you would like to see for yourself what TUIO can do for your organization, schedule a demo and/or read some of our customer testimonials.