One of the best ways to keep families coming through the door of your child care center is through word-of-mouth (WOM) referrals. Many times, this marketing tool is more effective than paid advertisements and other traditional forms of marketing. Having families out in the community sharing their positive experiences can persuade new families to come tour your center. WOM helps families instantly feel at ease because a third-party has confidence in what you do and feels comfortable putting their reputation on the line by recommending your child care center.
The first, and easiest, way to start getting more WOM referrals is to simply ask for them. Families in your child care center want to see you succeed, especially when you are good at what you do. Let families know you are looking for referrals. Many will be happy to help out. Offering incentives for referrals may help as well—maybe a discount on child care tuition for the month. Options for incentives vary greatly.
Another way to drive WOM referrals is to build a community for your families. Whether this is through an online email group, a community board in your child care center or even through community events. Bringing your center’s families together will help build positive interactions and stimulate WOM referrals.
Setting yourself apart from the competition is crucial for WOM referrals. Maybe your child care center has the best technology or is open the longest hours. Whatever it is that sets you apart, communicate that message clearly. This is very important in marketing and helps families understand why they want to be loyal to your child care center.
According to Small Business Trends, 85% of small businesses get customers through word of mouth. Focusing marketing efforts on WOM can only drive more business to your child care center. A few reasons that centers should focus on WOM marketing, other than its proven success, is that is personal and cost-effective. There is no paying for a direct mail campaign or buying ad space in a local newspaper. WOM is almost free and can benefit your center in many ways.
Another thing to keep in mind with WOM is that it spreads online and offline. While many customers will have conversations at the park or the grocery store, many times they will have conversations online as well. Keep an eye on your online presence with an updated website, current social media accounts and even looking at building your search engine optimization. Watching reviews about your business is also important. Don’t ignore negative feedback. Get ahead of reviews before negative WOM spreads and be sure to seek out positive reviews.
Lastly, a great way to learn how your families feel about your child care center is to conduct monthly/quarterly surveys. Whether this is a quick survey parents fill out when picking up their child, answering questions over email or responding to a question on a sign-in kiosk, there are a variety of ways to quickly survey families about their experience at your child care center. This is a simple way to feel out how families are reacting and offer you the opportunity to get ahead of a problem. Keeping families happy in your child care center ensures that they will spread positive messages about your center throughout the community.