Marketing Your Child Care Program

Some child care providers are fortunate enough to have long waiting lists of potential clients.  If you’re not in that category and your waiting list could use a little boost, we have some suggestions for you.  We’ll start today with an overview of ideas, then spend the next couple of weeks digging into the various suggestions a bit more deeply. 

The first consideration has to be the first impression you make with a potential client, both over the phone and in person.  You have to make sure that your program presents a warm, safe, competent impression. 

Once you feel confident that you can sell your program effectively to potential clients, you need to find those clients.  Your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency  is one of your biggest advocates.  Since their primary job is to help parents find child care, they love to have updated information from you to share with parents; it makes their job much easier.  

Having a supply of professional-looking flyers and business cards is crucial.  These can be posted around town at coffee shops, grocery stores, libraries, etc.  If you meet someone and start talking with them about your business, having a business card to share will help them to remember your program.  Make sure your clients have some of your business cards to share with their friends and family.  You might want to consider some sort of a referral program where your current clients could get a discount on their child care if someone they refer enrolls and attends for a specified amount of time.

Partnering with a local complementary business or organization can help both parties.  You can provide contact information for a local pediatrician or dentist and they can share your information with their clients.  If your local school knows that you are operating a high-quality, developmentally appropriate program, they may be willing to share you information with their parents.

Many parents will look for child care online.  Advertising online is one possibility, but an even more important component is simply having an online presence.  Having a website, FaceBook page, or something of the sort is an important way for people to learn about your program.  It doesn’t have to be very fancy, just accurate and appealing. 

An Open House is a great way to showcase your program.  Parents can see what you have to offer and how their children feel about your environment.  Having something fun for them to do as a family makes it a bit more appealing for them to attend.

If you have more money to spend, you can buy promotional give-aways like pens, tote bags, or license plate frames.  T-shirts for children to wear on field trips are more expensive, but serve two purposes.   They can make it easier to identify your children when they are outside of your facility and, if they wear them on the weekends, they can add to your marketing presence.

Of course, my all-time favorite marketing tip I picked up from a conference is to go to the various salons in town for hair services, manicures or pedicures.  We all know how social stylists can be!  Talk with them about your program and ask them to share your program with any of their clients that might be looking for child care.  Be sure to leave them with a few of your business cards.