Impressing Prospective Parents: Tips for Early Years Settings
Written By Dr James Huntington
As you know the first aim for a nursery is to encourage parents to entrust you with their children.
It’s important to consider the impression you give parents online, in the community, during a visit and beyond. For most parents looking for childcare, this is the first time they will have to leave their child and are more than likely feeling guilty and nervous, and maybe experiencing separation anxiety.
As a childcare provider it is important to not only give a good impression in regards to looking after their child but also that you have the capbailities and the willingness to offer support to families as a whole. This will further assure parents they are making the right decision.
No doubt parents will consider more than one nursery visit so it’s important that you make a strong first impression. Here's out top 5 tips on how to do this:
1. Online Presence
In today’s society a first impression is normally made online; this can be through your website, social media, or recommendation sites. Parents are likely to search for nurseries in their local area through a seacrh engine or other childcare directories and forums before choosing where to visit, therefore it’s important to get this bit right. You can get inspiration from other nurseries in your area or even nurseries who have won awards for their online and social media presence. This may be how they've built their website, what they post on Facebook or Twitter or even what imagery they share online. When creating or updating content in these places makes sure the values you have in your early years setting are reflected on your website and social media accounts.
It’s also important to make the route they take through your website is as simple as possible. Make sure they are directed to online forms, email addresses and telephone numbers encouraging them to call, book a visit or simply to find out more information about your childcare setting. When parents do call or email in, make sure they are responded to in a timely and polite manner, and their questions are answered.
2. Timing is everything
As you know certain times in the nursery are better at showing of the different activities and resources that are available to children to help them grow and develop.
Try to encourage parents to visit during times where planned activities or free flow play is occurring, rather than during nap times or drop-off and pick-up times where either nothing is happening or it’s a little chaotic and the staff can’t engage with the visitors.
3. Staff should be engaged with the prospective parents and children
Well before the visit it’s important to hire staff that share the nurseries values and are passionate about childcare and enjoy spending time with children. Parents will feel more relaxed and will feel more positive about leaving their child at nursery and will feel encouraged that at your setting they can trust those who are taking care of their children’s.
Encourage your staff to have smart and correct uniform, smile, say hello and ask questions or speak with the parents about their child’s health and wellbeing, as well as their likes and dislikes. They can ask things about the child and family’s routine and how they can help your child settle into their new environment. This may take some practice but the more staff do this the more comfortable they will become with talking to visitors.
It's important to remember that staff should also show engagement with the child or children not just with the parents.
4. Show off your strengths
Show off the things you’re proud of! Have you been graded Good or Outstanding by Ofsted? If so, mention this any chance you get. Parents will also want to know what makes you different, so make sure you play to your strengths during your visit. These strengths may be your staff, the outdoor area, the resources, the additional activities such as Spanish, French, yoga and so on.
5. There’s always room for improvement
Even after the visit is over it is important to ensure that you have a process in place to gather feedback from parents and families who have visited your setting, both those who have taken a place and those who haven’t.
Sometimes this can be a phone call from the manager or administrative staff, or even an email with a survey to help you gather information.
Its one thing collecting feedback but it’s another using it to make improvements and learn from mistakes or suggested improvements. Ensure that the feedback and/or survey results are collated and feedback to the necessary people.