Funnel Your Way to Increased Enrollment
It’s an extremely simple device. Shaped roughly like a rounded triangle with a large hole at the top and a small one at the bottom. You’ve probably got at least a couple of them in your kitchen. Perhaps there’s another in the garage. But what can you do with a funnel? More than you might have imagined.
For kids, a funnel can be great for water play. Try pouring some though a funnel. It’s sure to splash around a bit and rain down on your bare feet; perfect for a hot summer day. Sand works well with funnels too, especially in a centers-based play area at your child care, daycare or preschool.
For adults, it’s more likely you’ve used a funnel to help create a special recipe in the kitchen or perhaps add a quart of oil to your less than brand new vehicle.
But did you know funnels can also be used to track new inquiries and increase enrollment for your child care business? Not in the literal sense, of course, but here’s the idea: you want to move potential new families from the inquiry stage to the wait list, to pre-registered, to enrolled. You want to guide them through your enrollment funnel, whatever it may be.
Gather Pre-Registration Information
The first part of your enrollment funnel is to gather basic information when a family first makes an inquiry. Of course you can use a pencil and sticky notes, but there may be a better way. One option is to let parents do the work for you by filling in their basic information online. This is great for web or phone inquiries to help get the process started. Or better yet, when they schedule a tour, have a computer screen available for parents to enter their own information rather than a printed form you’ll have to manually re-type later.
To simplify information gathering, Procare offers an Online Wait List Service, better known as OWL. You receive an email when a new inquiry has been made, so you may contact the parents and import the information directly to the Procare Family Data module.
Keep the Funnel Moving
Next, you’ll use the Child’s Enrollment Status to track their progress through your funnel. You may create your own status levels, like: inquiry, visit, wait list, pre-registered and enrolled. By using Enrollment Reports, you’ll be able to track how many children are at each level and get quick details as to their name, age, etc. You can even record future enrollments, if you know (or expect) a child to start on a certain date. In some cases, you may get inquiries before a child is born and can include them in your projections by using the mother’s due date, or so many weeks after the due date, as a likely start date at your center.
Ask the Question
One question you should be asking, either verbally or through your online wait list, is “How did you hear about us?”. That’s important so you can determine how effective different forms of marketing have been. Was it your website, through a friend, the yellow pages, or maybe a flyer you’ve recently distributed at a local parenting class? In Procare you can easily track this by creating a Family Tracking Category, like “Heard About Us”, with a series of items for each marketing type including: website, friend, and so on.
Make Sure they Enroll
The key to success is good communication with the family. Follow up regularly, by phone, email, text message, or a good old fashioned letter through the mail. You’ll want them to know about your programs, schedule a visit, and keep up-to-date on where they are in the decision process. See: Keeping in Touch with Parents
Oh, and one last piece of advice. Be sure to assume they will enroll; don’t leave things open ended. For example, after a tour say: “I can see Jasmine likes the block-play center. While she enjoys that, there’s just a bit more information we’ll need for her application” and hand the parent whatever forms they may need to sign in person. Sometimes a gentle nudge like that is all it takes to help them with their decision and make it through the enrollment funnel.
Here’s wishing you a funnel full of new families and until next time, cheers!
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If you have questions or comments about this article (or suggestions for another article) I’d be pleased to hear from you. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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