The occupancy level of any childcare centre is the lifeblood for the business.
With growing competition throughout most areas of New Zealand many centres are facing a the challenge on how to improve their occupancy and financial performance of their service.
The decline in occupancy does impact on the financial performance of the business in the short term and if not addressed will impact on the future sale value of the business when it is time to sell.
Most businesses I work with have an advertising budget to attract new clients, but often it is unclear if the investment is providing a good return for the money invested.
As a service industry, large scale advertising may not be as effective as using other means to attract clients. Never underestimate reputation, word of mouth referrals and your own team as being your ambassadors for the business.
Some options you might consider including in a marketing plan include:
Ø Align your business with other community based services and businesses. Promote your business and their services within each organisation’s newsletters. A win-win promotion.
Ø Use flyers in community notice boards to promote activities, services and your centre
Ø Offer Free seminars to mothers on childcare topics to position your centre as a knowledgeable and professional organisation.
Ø Utlise your staff in developing flyers and events to promote the centre, they are your greatest ambassadors.
Ø Offer incentives for referrals from your current clients. Their word of mouth referrals can be rewarded with complimentary sessions , discounts on services or gift rewards from aligned businesses.
Ø Promote before and after school services with your local schools , being part of their newsletter ensures your message gets directly home to the parents.
Ø If you have clients leave , find out why and make changes to address any potential issues.
Ø Review the presentation of your premises, website, facebook and newsletters. Do they really engage and promote your Childcare Centre as the service of choice within the Community?
Becoming the Childcare Service of choice within your community does not necessarily require a large marketing budget. Taking action in a number of areas across your business can be cost effective in attracting and retaining clients.