After successfully running my own preschool for 10 years, I’ve answered thousands of phone calls and signed up over 1,000 students over the past 10 years, so it’s safe to say I’ve perfected the process of signing up students so much that I sign up 90% of the families that call me on the phone asking about my preschool.
Because I know how difficult it can be to sign up preschool parents when you’re starting out, I’ve written down the EXACT system I use so you can confidently sign up your own students and fill your preschool quickly. This system, when followed correctly, will help you increase your sign-up conversions and lower your need to be “sales-y.”
This Perfect Sign-Up Formula is to be used AFTER you’ve put out your marketing and you’re now ready to CONVERT parents into preschool families. It works for both local and online preschools (the formula for online preschools isn’t covered here). But first, a word of caution: Do not skip a step, and don’t try to “change” the process inside each step. After all, it’s proven to work.
The process for signing up students varies:
- Local: Call now to reserve your spot and take a tour
- Online: Register now to reserve your spot and get a free 1-week trial
Similarly, as you see in the image the marketing process is different slightly, as a local preschool includes a phone call and tour to sign up, whereas an online preschool has them sign up online without a phone call and tour.
STEP 1. INCLUDE 7 POINTS IN ALL YOUR MARKETING
To teach you the first step in The Perfect Sign-Up Formula, let’s first start with a story to illustrate a very important point.
When I was pregnant with my 5th child (yes, I know, that’s a lot of kids!) we went shopping for a bigger car. After doing my research on the safest, most cost effective, and rewarding car that could fit my family, we finally decided on a Honda Odyssey.
While doing my research, I came to find out that low mileage was my first priority, and low price was right behind. That’s when I discovered my biggest pet peeve in the car shopping experience:
Finding the right car, with the right mileage… but not knowing what the price was!
You see, I did all my shopping online because I didn’t want to actually come face-to-face with a salesman. And sometimes I would click on a link from a dealer, look at all the pictures of the car, check out the mileage and the features, and then scroll around for about 30 seconds trying to find the price. But all I would find was “Please contact the dealer for price.”
How frustrating! I didn’t want to call the dealer, who inevitably would then have my name and number and call me back, trying to sell me a car in the future. What if I had to call 3 dealers to find prices? Then I would have 3 dealerships hounding me for the next few weeks!
I had found the perfect car, but I still didn’t know if I could afford it. So what does buying a Honda Odyssey have to do with learning how to sign up preschool parents and creating your preschool marketing plan?
A lot, actually.
You see, buying a car is like choosing a preschool.
One of the biggest myths in marketing is that if a company can make their product/service irresistible enough to customers, then price isn’t really an issue; but if it becomes an issue, in the end at least they’ll be talking to the customer and can try to convince them that their product/service is worth it.
Sounds a little “sales-y” to you, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but when I created my Perfect 3-Step Sign-Up Formula, I made sure it required as little “selling” on my end as possible!
What these companies forget is that customers make decisions
EVERY DAY based on quality AND price. I mean, how many times do you walk into a store to go shopping and end up looking at a price tag? Or hundreds of price tags?
Every time you consider buying an item, you weigh the benefits to the cost. And if it has enough benefits to warrant the cost, then you buy that item. You’re constantly weighing your budget to how many items can fit into that budget, and choosing a preschool is no different.
So what’s a prospective preschool parent supposed to do when they receive a flyer about your preschool, and after they get so excited about it, realize they can’t find a price anywhere on your materials. What’s going on in their heads? “Can I afford this?” “Maybe they didn’t list the price because it’s expensive.”
Do you really think they’re going to call you to find out how much it costs? They’re not even ready to make that commitment to take the first step of communication with you, let alone be led down some path where they might be asked to come take a tour.
Because as much as they might love your preschool, they don’t want to be let down later on by knowing they can’t afford it.
So while this story helped illustrate the reason behind including pricing on all your marketing materials, your marketing plan extends way beyond just including pricing.
You should include as much as you possibly can about your preschool.
For the best results, post these 7 Key Points (plus lots more!) on your website and every flyer, postcard, and brochure you hand out.
1. Your Tuition
As explained in the previous story, price rules most spending decisions, so be sure to include your tuition.
2. Your Class Times
Have multiple classes? Post them all! What may not work for one parent might work for another.
3. Call to Take a Tour
You don’t want strangers showing up to find out more info. Your time is valuable, so make sure they know they need to “Call today to take a tour and reserve your spot.”
4. Not a Daycare
Don’t compromise. You chose to start a preschool, so refer any daycare calls to reputable daycares in the area. Make sure they know you’re “Strictly a preschool, not a daycare.”
5. Your Location
Even if you live in a small town, parents want to know how far they’ll have to drive to get to you. List an address, or if you prefer, cross-streets or general area (i.e. “Next to the city park!” or “Inside the Brentwood subdivision!” etc.) It also opens the conversation about it being in a home.
6. Ages Accepted
Usually you’ll teach 3- to 5-year-olds, but if you also teach “Independent Almost 3-year-olds” be sure to put that too.
7. Website Address
We live in a social world, so include your website address on all flyers. If posting online, include your Facebook, social media pages, or review sites.
Why must you give SO MUCH information about your preschool, you ask? Isn’t it better to just give a little, get them interested, and sell them on the rest later? Sorry, folks, but “selling” and “convincing” them in the future is just a huge hassle, and we’re not in the sales business.
We’re in the preschool business, where you need to be straight-forward about how you run your preschool, and if they don’t like it, that’s okay. They probably wouldn’t have signed up in the first place.
I know that’s a bit dramatic, but I’m thinking of one of my students who mentioned to me that she’s super nervous about pleasing every parent, and often will change one of her policies just to accommodate that parent’s wishes. Don’t discount her just yet… because she was a lot like ME before I finally grew a backbone and decided how to run my preschool like a business.
Now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for parent feedback and try to IMPROVE your preschool. On the contrary: please, please, please, always make your preschool better every year and use parent feedback to help you grow.
But it certainly does mean that if you were planning your preschool to be a certain way because you felt strongly enough about it, then stick to your guns! Now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “But if I post everything about my preschool (including prices), then parents might not call me.”
Then I would probably reply: “If they don’t call you, then there’s some reason why they would never sign up their child in the first place. And why waste your time trying to convince someone who won’t sign up their child?”
I don’t mean to be rude by saying that your time is valuable, but isn’t it? You have a family to love, preschoolers to teach, and a business to run. Not to mention anything you want to do in your spare time.
So make your time you spend on the business as productive as possible, instead of wasting your time trying to convince people why they should sign up in your preschool.
For instance, up until last fall, by using my Perfect 3-Step Sign-Up Formula, I had a 95% rate of parents calling me about my preschool and then taking a tour. From that point, I had a 95% rate that they would sign up. So you can see that I had done a great job of weeding out non-interested parents way before they even called me.
And that’s because I followed my preschool marketing plan of putting all my preschool’s information on our flyers and website, so I only received calls from viable leads.
(NOTE: My ONLY method of marketing was flyers, online traffic, and word of mouth, as my preschool was in my home and I couldn’t put up any signage.)
But when we opened our second preschool location and put a huge sign in the front yard advertising our preschool, my conversions fell WAY down. All of a sudden I had 2x as many calls, but only 75% of them converted into a tour.
Why the difference, you ask? Because so many passersby thought we were a daycare… all they saw was the sign and the children, so after I found out on the phone they needed childcare, I didn’t ask them to take a tour.
Thankfully, my rate of parents signing up after having a tour stayed at 95%, because I was able to weed them out during the phone call.
So while you may have a random parent call you out of the blue and not know much about your preschool, try to have the majority of those prospective parents be as well-informed as possible so when they call you, they’ll be ready to set up a time to take a tour.
Calling you is the next step to creating your preschool marketing plan, so keep reading to learn EXACTLY how to handle that phone conversation to get 95% of parents to commit to a tour.
STEP 2. CONVERT CALL TO COMMITMENT TO TOUR
So now you’re left wondering what’s next in the process of how to sign up preschool parents. You’re waiting (not-so) patiently for your first prospective parent to call.
When will they call? What will they ask? What should I say? How will I get them to take a tour? Will they end up signing up? I’m sure you have all these questions (and more) running through your mind!
No worries, though, I’ve been in your shoes before! And after talking to thousands of prospective preschool parents over the past several years, I’ve learned a few tips on how to successfully convert a phone conversation into a commitment to tour your preschool. I’ve even put together a complete
interview dialogue that you can use anytime a prospective preschool parent calls in to inquire about your preschool!
But before we get to the phone conversation dialogue (which you’ll want to print out and have easy access to anytime a preschool parent calls you) this is an excellent time to recall the information that people MUST know before they call you.
If you remember, you should always include the following items on your marketing materials:
- They need to call for a tour and you’re not a daycare
- Your class times, tuition, location, and website address
- Ages Accepted
If you ever get a phone call from anyone who hasn’t seen your marketing materials (i.e. got a referral from a friend or just called you after they found your phone number) you’ll want to make sure you include all those points in your conversation so they are up to speed. This is essential if you want to make sure you sign them up on the tour… don’t leave anything out!
I remember the first time I got a call about my preschool. I was so nervous and didn’t know how to sign up preschool parents… let alone what to say on the phone!
But over the next several years, I perfected that conversation so that I led the pace, tone, and content given. After literally thousands of phone calls, I can confidently say… I’ve got it down! Look below for my exact dialogue I still use to this day every time I get a call.
Each conversation will be different, but as long as you don’t leave out any of the crucial information in this dialogue, you’ll be helping every prospective preschool parent move steadily down the signing up process, without them even knowing it!
This also shows you how easily you can transition from answering a parent’s questions into scheduling them for a tour!
“I’d love to tell you more about us. How did you hear about us?
… Oh, excellent! I’ve been getting a lot of calls about [marketing tool]. Do you know any of our preschool parents? …
Not a problem. To make sure I have a spot, I’d love to know a little more about your child you’re thinking of enrolling so I can find the right class and see if we have openings. What’s your child’s name?
… And can you spell that for me? …
Thanks so much. And how old is he/she?
… Wonderful. You mentioned you saw our [marketing tool], so was there a particular class that worked well with your schedule and budget? …
Oh, good! We do have a spot left in our [class desired] class! And you saw that we’re not a daycare, right?
… Excellent! I’d love to tell you more about our preschool, so let’s schedule a tour so I can meet you and your son and make sure we’re a good fit for each other. …
I could meet with you on [day] at [time], or [day] at [time]. Which one of those times works best for you?
… Wonderful! So I am writing this down in my calendar, as we speak (and if you could please write this down in your calendar as well) for this [day] at [time]. Do you know where we’re located?
… Excellent! I’m going to write down [child]’s name in that [desired class] spot so you don’t lose it before we meet. That class is $[cost]/mo. The tour will take about 25 minutes, so please feel free to bring any other children you have as well. I’ll tell you all about the preschool, and at the very end, I’ll ask: ‘Would you like [child] to come to our preschool?’ If so, we’ll have you fill out a registration form and pay the $[cost] registration fee. It covers his school supplies and reserves your spot. Do you have any other questions for me before [day]?
… Great! And have you seen our website? …
Great! I’ll see you [day] at [time]! Bye.”
STEP 3. EDUCATE, WOW, AND ASK FOR SIGN UP
As you’re preparing for your first preschool tour, I’m betting you’ll feel pretty anxious about how to sign up preschool parents during the tour. You might even be worried about the questions they’re going to ask you.
But if you’re prepared in advance, and can actually answer those questions without parents ever having to ask them, you won’t find yourself having to defend your answers.
You’ll simply be stating how your preschool runs, and at the end of the tour, every parent should have the majority of their preschool questions already answered! After all, it’s all in the delivery, folks!
And after answering literally hundreds of questions myself, I’d be an idiot if I didn’t learn a thing or two about how to carefully craft what I say to alleviate a parent’s fear and help them feel at ease with putting their child in our care.
At the root of most of these questions, a parent is really asking: “Is my child going to be safe in your care?”
The tricky thing is: you can’t answer that question point blank, because that fear will never be alleviated with a simple answer.
It will come over time, as parents develop confidence in your program and abilities, and that confidence will only develop if they see that YOU are confident about your program and abilities! This is a very important point, so take note.
Before the family arrives, set out chairs in a comfortable location in your home. Pull out a few toys for the child(ren) to play with while you chat with the parents.
Have on hand:
- Yearly Calendar
- Policies & Procedures Handbook
- Registration Form(s) with clipboard and pen
- Other materials (i.e. T-Shirt, Welcome Package, etc.)
When the family arrives, greet them warmly and invite them to sit down. Ask them how they heard about you, and if they were referred by any preschool families (so you can give that family a referral credit).
Then ask the parents, “What are your goals for (child) for preschool?” This is a great opportunity to make sure that their expectations are in line with your goals. Listen to their answers, and talk about how you’ll help meet those goals.
Then say, “For most families, they don’t know quite what questions to ask, so if it’s okay, I’d like to tell you all about our preschool, and hopefully along the way that will answer most of your questions. Sound good?” Usually they’ll happily nod their heads.
Then you begin with telling a brief story about your preschool. I usually begin with, “My name is Joy, and I started my preschool 10 years ago…”
Then you move into talking about your preschool for 20 minutes. I’ve listed below the top 10 questions that you MUST answer during your tour BEFORE a parent even asks them.
Remember, take charge and answer the questions in your own way depending on your situation. Feel free to include additional information as well.
I’ve included brief sample answers below as well.
1. Are you licensed with the state?
“By getting and maintaining my CPR/1st Aid certification, state licensing, and continuing my education, I show my commitment to providing quality education to your child.”
2. What education and experience do you have to teach?
“With my knowledge and degree in Early Childhood Education and several years’ teaching preschool, your child will learn in a caring environment with developmentally appropriate activities and curriculum.”
3. How many children will be in my child’s class, and what is the staff/child ratio?
“With my small class sizes of only 8 children in each class, your child will feel more comfortable in his/her class and will gain close friendships with the other preschoolers. Similarly, my low staff/child ratio of 1:8 will help your child get lots of 1-1 attention from me.”
4. What is your teaching approach: teacher directed or child initiated?
“Because I have a good balance of teacher-directed and child-initiated activities, your child will have plenty of opportunities to learn and play, follow directions, socialize, experiment, and have fun.”
5. Do you have an open-door policy?
“My preschool has an open-door policy: meaning that you can pop in at anytime without calling first. We believe that once you see us teach, you’ll love us even more!”
6. What will my child be taught?
“I will be using several different curricula, including Handwriting Without Tears and Creative Curriculum to help build your child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills.”
7. What is your daily schedule?
“I have a consistent routine each day, so your child will feel confident with their place inside the class. Our familiar routine helps your child to understand what is coming next, which often facilitates easy transitions from activity to activity.” (Briefly go over schedule.)
8. Do you take field trips?
“I take several field trips through the year to help your child grasp fun concepts not possible during class time. There is no school that day, so you’ll meet us at the field trip location.” (Use this time to quickly review the yearly calendar for field trips, PTCs, meet ‘n greets, etc.)
9. How will you keep my child healthy and safe?
“We have distinct policies and procedures set up regarding health and safety, so your child will benefit from being in a safe, clean environment.” (Review your health and safety procedures.)
10. What is your discipline policy?
“We follow a 3-step process to help children learn conflict resolution skills. We first monitor the situation, to see if the child can work it out him/herself. If not, then we’ll ask the child what is wrong, and help him/her use words to work through the situation. If the situation does not get resolved, then we’ll redirect the child(ren) into another activity.”
Now that you’ve told them all about your preschool, it’s time to finish the process.
ASK FOR THE SALE
Once you’ve finished your spiel, ask them if they have any other questions. Usually most families, say, “No, you answered everything.” Then smile and say, “I try to.” Or, if they have questions, answer them as needed.
Then smile broadly and confidently and look them directly in the eye as you say, “And would you like (child) to come to our preschool?”
Usually most families energetically nod their head and say, “Yes!” Sometimes spouses might look at each other for that quick “I loved it… Are we good to go?” hidden look.
So once they say “Yes” then say, “Great! Let’s get you all squared away. Just fill out this registration form, and you can make your $50 registration check out to (preschool name).”
Hand them the clipboard with the registration materials on it, and say, “I’m going to play with your child for a few minutes while you fill this out.” This is a great opportunity to get to know their child, and for the parents to see you interact and play with their child.
When the parents are almost done, start cleaning up with the child by singing a fun clean up song.
Once they’ve given you their form(s) and payment, hand them their materials and remind them to read through your Policies & Procedures handbook thoroughly before coming. If the first day of school is still a few months away, remind them how you’ll be in communication with them before then so they know what to expect. Then walk them outside and say your cheery goodbyes!
I hope that as you take charge of the interview, you’ll be able to confidently craft the answers to these questions before they’re even asked!
Your confidence will shine through as you become more skilled at how to sign up preschool parents, and parents will be so grateful that you answered all their questions!
Hopefully, by using our Perfect 3-Step Sign-Up Formula, you’ll know how to sign up preschool students and you’ll sign up 90% (or more!) of your own calls!