It might seem strange that today I want to talk to you about why you should never give another parent tour. As a child care provider, one of the ways you gain clients is the parent tour. That is what you are trying to get to after you have posted your ad and a parent calls inquiring about your child care. I try to give just enough information to get the parent intrigued enough to make an appointment to come in. Once I can get them here, I know they will love it. So why should you never give a parent tour? Keep reading …
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Last updated: 10/06/2016
Years ago I would meet with parents, sit down with them and talk to them about my program, my experience as a parent and my education in child development. I would talk to them about their child and what their child care needs were. Then I would walk them around my home to the different areas I had set up for the child care. I would show them the centers set up in our main room, the quiet area, show them where the children would sleep & eat and finally show them our large backyard. That was my typical parent tour.
Eventually, I invested in some flyers and brochures to go along with my very basic business card. I used Vistaprint because they had easy to use templates that I could use to create a product fast and their prices were super affordable. My thinking was that parents would probably be visiting child cares other than mine and maybe if I could keep my program on their mind, they could compare more easily and might consider enrolling with me.
Now whenever parents were calling back to enroll, they would comment on how they were impressed by how professional my presentation was at the parent tour.
Perception at the Parent Tour
So why in the world would I be telling you NOT to give parent tours? That’s a very good question, especially since I just told you how successful they are. Here’s the reason,
At a PARENT TOUR or visit, I was giving the parents the perception that they were interviewing me. When in fact, I was evaluating them just as much as they were evaluating me. Check out this great video at Welcometothezoo.ca which goes in-depth about what the provider should be asking parents and how to interview them.
At some point, I realized that not everyone that toured was the “right fit” for my program. Even though parents often came with questions to ask me about my experience, the program, my philosophy, etc. I soon developed questions for them as well. I needed to know what their family structure, parenting style and dietary needs were. I needed to inquire about who would be picking up the child and when. Who and how they would be paying for child care.
So I made the decision to stop giving parent tours. I changed the name of my tour (I know that was sneaky) to an ORIENTATION. So what’s the big deal? Well, I felt that the parent tour was more than walking around and just giving them a tour. I was actually orienting them with my program. When I would sit down with parent (usually 45 minutes to an hour) and exchange information with them it was more of a meeting than just a tour.
Orientation vs. Parent Tour
In general, people are accustomed to the word orientation at higher institutions like universities and some private schools. Well, I felt what I did was just as important. After all, I was talking care of a nonverbal baby, not a young adult who could communicate. The shift in terms was as much for me as it was for parents. I needed to start appreciating what I did and what I was building my business to be so that I would impress that upon my future clients. Like the children I sought to care for, I was evolving and growing and so was my program.
So I killed the parent tour and the ORIENTATION was born.
As I added more services to the child care I would develop a handout and present that option at the orientation. I would get more information in the telephone interview before the orientation to weed out clients that didn’t fit but also to gather information so I would know what to present to them and offer at the orientation. Now the orientation was even easier and faster to give than the parent tour.
I felt that the orientation gave my business more credibility. I could tell parents felt like they were talking to a professional. No longer did they look at me as a hybrid babysitter. And if they didn’t when they arrived, they did by the end of the orientation.
I know at the beginning of this post you may have thought I had developed some new way to get clients to enroll. Or that you could avoid interrupting your already busy day just to tour a parent. Or maybe you just thought I was crazy and was trying to repel the very clients you needed for your business. No, in reality, it isn’t any of those things. It’s even better! It’s easier!
Think about this: Change the perception of what you do. Change the perception of your profession. When you do, other’s will too.