One of the leading factors that will contribute to your success or
failure when you start a child care center is marketing. In order to win
customers and grow into a larger business with more than one facility
or just to maintain your existing group sizes you need a solid marketing
strategy in place.
Here is an outline of a child care center business plan to guide you.
Identifying a Hungry Market
The first step in putting a child care center marketing plan together is to identify your market. This may seem obvious at first but there are many niches or sectors in this industry. These range from infant care, regular child care for preschoolers, after school care, weekend and evening care. The niches vary by the age of the children, location, what time the children are there and also increasingly by the quality and style of care, facilities and educational program.
The most successful operators identify a niche that is not being catered to sufficiently in their local area and they move into and dominate the market. Doing extensive market research for your childcare business and working on differentiating yourself from competitors are the keys here.
Packaging and Pricing Child Care Services
Once you have defined your niche you can then look at clearly defining the services that you offer to meet niche demands and you can look at ways of packaging your services in a way that appears to enhance their value. While still being flexible in what you offer you can put together attractive packages with catchy names such as 'Saturday Koala Club' for example. List what is included with each package and offer discounts for customers signing up for a full package (clients who prepay for every Saturday for three months in advance get 10% discount for example).
It is also important to do research into child care pricing so that you can come up with rates that make your business marketable.
By now you should have a fair idea about the child care brand that you will be establishing. Give some thought to thinking about how you want the public to perceive your business and note down a company philosophy and the values that you want to project to the community. Then you can meet with a graphic designer and start discussing how to visually represent the brand that you want to create with a logo design.
Child care Center Advertising and Promotion
The next step is to get word out about your new child care center and the services and packages that you offer. Advertising is an important part of any marketing plan and you should look at the many options available and start running some campaigns several months before opening for business.
Networking and Cross Promotions
Advertising is not the only way to go about attracting clients. You should look at ways of cross promoting your services with other local business and network in your local community to meet a wide range of people.
Don't write off working together with competitors to cross promote each other's services respectively. If you get an enquiry and find out that the child in question would be better suited to a program at another daycare then you are doing the parents a favor by letting them know. And if the other daycare center is also referring children that they feel are more suited to what you have to offer then this arrangement is a win win for all involved.
Word of Mouth Marketing
If you serve your existing customers well they will refer friends to you. This kind of 'word of mouth' advertising is free and can be fully exploited by giving your clients every reason to talk about you to their friends. Providing a great service is one thing but there are many other ways to get customers talking about you. Make their interaction with your business so unique, interesting and memorable that they can't wait to bring your center up in a conversation with their friends.
Refining a Sales Process
If your advertising and networking efforts are successful you should start to receive a good number of enquiries from families. At this point you need to have developed an effective sales process right through from making the appointment, the interview session, a tour, some soft selling and then closure of the deal.
Don't Stop Marketing to your Customers
Keep marketing to your existing customers even after they have signed up with your service. There are always additional products and services that you can sell to maximize the revenue that you make off each client.
Many small centers spend too much time focusing on the day-to-day work of running their business and neglect their marketing. To make your child care business a success you need to ensure that you, as the owner, or another trusted staff member can devote a large part of their day towards marketing. This will ultimately help to determine how successful and profitable your business will be.