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Operating Tips On Caring For Kids

Updated on March 20, 2011

Unless parents are pleading just to get a space on your waiting list, you're probably looking for ways to increase enrollment at your center. Let's face it not everyone has the luxury of turning families away because there's no room at the inn, so to speak. If you want to fill those empty chairs, and maybe even lay the groundwork for some profitable expansion, you have to follow the three "R's": reach the right audience regularly.

While marketing budgets are frequently being cut because they are percieved by many as an unnecessary expense, marketing has evolved in some quarters to go beyond a discretionary item in the budget to being a crucial component of limited budgets in the current economy. This evolution has been driven by many factors, a key one being a new understanding of how valuable marketing is for growth.

Whether you're Microsoft Corp. or ABC Childcare, marketing is what brings new customers to your door. If you want to make parents choose your center over the competition's, you have to either go where your competition isn't (i.e. local advertising, Chamber of Commerce mixers, etc.) or do what they are already doing but do it better.

All centers being equal, so to speak, parents will choose what is geographically nearby or the cheapest. You have to fight to establish your voice and individuality. You need to refine what makes your center special by presenting consistent qualities associated with your business to the public. It's also important that this design is realistic so that you can deliver what you promise.

When you have the image you want to present, the next step is to raise your flag in your community. This can be done through creating ads to place in newspapers or the yellow pages, designing brochures, creating direct-mail campaigns and being listed in kids care resource referral services.

When placing an ad in a newspaper, figure out first what your goal is. Immediate-response advertising, such as coupons or special benefits for enrolling now, will likely generate some response but only over a short time period. Image-building advertising helps build business over a period of months or years, and may bring in more new students in the long run. An image-building ad works by getting people to remember your name. It usually includes basic information about your center. By seeing your ad over and over again, people will remember your facility's name and then respond or refer someone to your business when they have a need. Placing ads in the Yellow Pages is an example of image-building advertising.

If you're going to use paid advertising, you need to do it on a regular basis one shot ads don't do anything. You need to become 'part of the woodwork' of the newspaper or magazine, so that you almost become a household word to the community. If you're going to do paid advertising, you need to plan for it in your budget, and it needs to be a healthy amount. Other avenues for getting the word out in print are utilizing Child Resource Referral Lists, which give centers exposure to families who are looking for kids care. It's probably the best free exposure you can get.

Continued In Operating Tips On Caring For Kids - Part 2

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