In the child care business, there’s no success metric that’s more important than customer retention and keeping the families who are enrolled continue to choose your child care center – year after year.
Having great customer retention means that you can benefit long-term from the effort you put into marketing your business and developing great relationships with kids and parents. You won’t have to work as hard to find new customers all the time, and you’ll be able to focus on making a real difference for the kids in your care today.
In this blog post, we’re offering our best tips for customer retention in child care. We’ll talk about the most important steps you can take to make sure parents love your child care center and continue to support your business.
What is Customer Retention in Child Care?
If you’re excited about building your child care operation, you’re probably focused on customer acquisition – marketing your services, connecting with families in the community and offering tours, interviews or open house events to attract new enrollments.
Acquiring new customers is super important for the growth of your center, but the real key to success is ensuring that families who enroll at your center will stay with you until their children age out – and that’s where customer retention comes in.
Customer retention is all about retaining customers – making sure they’re consistently satisfied with your child care service, which keeps them committed to your center and prevents them from taking their child somewhere else.
Customer retention in child care really breaks down to just three things:
- Understanding how to make kids who attend your center happy and eager to attend.
- Understanding how to make parents want to drop their children off at your center.
- Consistently delivering experiences and service that meets the expectations of kids and parents.
In a nutshell, effective customer retention means knowing what your customer wants and giving it to them – all the time! Below, we highlight seven of our best tips and strategies for customer retention in child care.
Our 7 Best Tips for Customer Retention in Child Care
Hire Exceptional Child Care Staff
Hiring the most exceptional child care providers you can find will do wonders for your overall customer retention.
An exceptional child care provider isn’t always the person with the most education or qualifications – it’s the person who knows how to put a smile on a kid’s face, and on a parent’s face as well.
When you’re recruiting new staff, look for passionate educators with the right personal qualities, such as:
- Respectful & Inclusive – Someone who will treat every child as an individual and make sure they feel special and included.
- Caring – Someone warm and nurturing who values empathy and takes time to understand the perspectives of others.
- Enthusiastic – Someone who gets excited about learning and can motivate kids and their parents to take part in the fun.
- Organized – Someone whose preparation and attention to detail will impress parents and help kids learn and grow more every day.
- Compromising/Diplomatic – Someone with great communication and interpersonal problem-solving skills.
- Responsible – Someone who takes the rules seriously, pays attention to child safety and security, and sets high professional standards for themselves and others.
- Outgoing – Someone who genuinely loves connecting with kids, parents and families in the community.
Strengthen Rapport Between Parents and Providers
Parents who develop strong relationships with their child care providers are much less likely to enroll their child at another center. Every child care center should work on strengthening these relationships as part of their customer retention activities. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Start with a Smile – Child care providers should try to make every interaction with parents a positive one. It starts with a smile!
- Learn Names and Get Familiar – Parents know that child care providers have a lot of names to learn and remember. When we make an effort to learn a customer’s name and remember one or two facts about them, we’re sending the message that we value them and want to build a relationship.
- Share Good News – Communicate with parents often to share good news about their child’s development. Frequent positive communication leaves parents feeling great about their child’s experience at your center.
- Ask Questions – Asking parents about their individual child’s likes, dislikes, wants and needs shows that you’re invested in their child’s happiness and dedicated to their success.
- Listen to Feedback – Listening to feedback and acting on it is a great opportunity to build rapport with parents and show them that their insights are valued. Centers can gather feedback from parents through a survey, or simply by asking them: “What can we do better?” Parents who feel like they have a say in their child’s care are more likely to stay a part of your child care community.
Nurture Quality Relationships Between Kids and Caregivers
When it comes to customer retention in child care, there’s nothing more crucial than making sure the kids are happy.
If kids have amazing, high-quality relationships with child care providers at your center, they’ll regularly tell their parents how much they love coming to you for care. There are so many ways to nurture relationships with kids, but we’ll just highlight some of our favorites:
- Greet every kid by name when they arrive each day
- Send positive notes and electronic news home consistently
- Have conversations with kids and listen to them
- Follow a child’s lead during play
- Give hugs, high-fives or start a dance party when kids accomplish a task – make it fun and encouraging (In the age of COVID, you will need to change this up to also maintain safety and social distancing)
- Give compliments, acknowledge effort and reward good behavior
- Give praise, encouragement and positive feedback
- Tell kids about yourself and learn more about them
Practice Transparent Communication
Parents trust child care centers that communicate with them in a transparent way.
That means your center should give parents the information they need to understand what’s going on when it matters – not after the fact. Here’s how that could look in practice:
- Talking to parents about a child’s inappropriate behavior the first time you notice it, even if it feels uncomfortable.
- Telling parents about anticipated closures of your center so they can make alternate child care arrangements.
- Telling parents about upcoming events or activities so they can start budgeting or take time off work to attend.
- Immediately reporting accidents or injuries involving a child to their parents, no matter how minor.
Create a Stimulating Environment where Learning Happens
Parents are more likely to stick with your child care center if they believe you provide a stimulating environment where their child can learn and reach their full potential.
A stimulating environment includes features like:
- Stimulating visuals, including informational posters, dioramas, story webs, word walls, wall art and lots of color!
- Hands-on activities that encourage kids to use their senses, explore, move around, be creative and develop new skills.
- Lessons that use more than one medium to communicate a message (listening, reading, discussing, playing a game, etc.)
- Toys, books and games that address all four areas of development: cognitive, social/emotional, physical and linguistic.
A stimulating environment usually means that kids are learning a lot and having a great time. This makes both kids and parents happy, leading to better customer retention. Remember to budget for new activities, or rotate them between rooms to keep kids interested and engaged.
Maintain Clean, Safe and Secure Child Care Facilities
When parents are searching their communities for quality child care, some of their biggest priorities are center cleanliness, child safety and building security.
If a parent visits your center for a tour and sees a messy environment with obvious safety risks, they’re unlikely to come back. Ditto if they arrive for a tour during business hours and your front door is left unlocked.
And those concerns don’t go away after a parent enrolls their child at your center. Each time parents visit, they’re expecting to see the same standards of cleanliness, security and child safety that made them choose your center in the first place.
To meet those standards consistently, centers need to make sure their staff members are following the correct processes for cleaning and maintaining a safe environment. Security features like keyless entry or biometric identification, and offering contactless check-in are great ways to show parents that you’re serious about protecting their kids.
Keep Parents Engaged with their Child’s Development
Child care centers can improve customer retention by keeping parents engaged with their child’s development.
When kids are young, they learn things fast and reach new milestones on a regular basis. Parents love seeing their kids learn and grow, but those moments are often missed while kids are in child care and parents are at work. To help parents experience more of that joy, child care centers need to involve them in their child’s daily activities. Here’s how:
- Use a parent engagement app to share daily activity updates that parents can access on their computer or mobile device.
- Include photos or video content that highlight their child’s learning and development.
- Keep parents informed about upcoming lessons that are planned for their child and how they connect to state learning standards.
When parents feel engaged with their child’s daily experiences, they develop a stronger sense of assurance that your center is the right place for them to grow up.
Elevate Your Customer Retention with Procare Solutions
More than 30,000 child care businesses across the country are using Procare Solutions to enrich their parent interactions and retain customers.
Procare’s child care app and integrated parent engagement platform allow child care providers to:
- Engage parents with direct or mass communications
- Send messages in-app, via email or by SMS text message
- Create newsletters and calendar events to inform and excite parents about upcoming events
- Share photos, video updates and daily activities that keep parents engaged in their child’s learning
Customer retention in child care depends on successful engagement and communication with parents. With Procare, you’ll have all the tools you need to build those relationships, keep parents happy and elevate retention in your child care community.
Ready to get started?