Do you struggle with client communications? Specifically, do you feel that parents just aren’t following your policies? Maybe you think they are doing this on purpose and just running over you. Today I want to ask – What would you tell your clients if you had the chance? Would you tell them to be better at following your policies and rules? Well, today we are telling those parents but good! Here’s the What, Why, How and When to tell your clients to follow your childcare policies.
Tell Them to Follow Your Policies!
Why tell Them? childcare policies
It may seem obvious, but if you want someone to know something, you have to tell them. Most providers do a really good job of detailing specific information in their contract & handbook. Here’s the problem: parents don’t read contracts and handbooks. Well, in fairness, let’s just say they don’t read everything.
It is said that most people need to see something seven times before they take action.
It always surprises me when a new parent will ask “Do we need to pay for holidays?” I so want to say, come on you are new. Don’t you remember reading that in the contract? But I don’t. I simply answer yes, you need to pay.
The thing is, there is a lot of information in a contract and even more in a handbook. No one can remember everything, even if they do read it.
So what do we do? childcare policies
We tell them AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. The fact is most parents will need to reminded more than once what the policies are. And even though it can be annoying or even tedious, we need to tell them. Seven times or more.
Let’s say that parents are constantly paying you late. Even though you might (probably) have a very detailed payment policy, it just keeps happening.
Or maybe parents routinely will ask to switch days on those holiday weeks. Again, you have a policy about this, but they still ask.
Or maybe your parents constantly pickup late. You have a contracted time detailed in your contract, but it doesn’t seem to matter.
If you notice that some of the same issues keep coming up, that’s a problem and these are great candidates for addressing. These issues usually will not correct themselves. We need to find ways to tell clients (again) what our policies are, especially if there seems to be some abuse going on.
How to Tell Them?
I know you must be thinking “I have already addressed these issues in my contract, policies or handbook. What more do I have to do?”
I KNOW! I feel your pain. And it is a good question! childcare policies
Even though most providers are very good about detailing their policies in their contract, the fact is that might not be enough.
Now before you think I am putting this back on the provider, consider this – A new client who has just signed up. The parents were wowed by the tour and you addressed all of your key policies when you met with them. They turned in the (signed) contract and are good to go, rite?
Well, hold on. childcare policies
Did the parents even read that contract? Maybe (probably) not all of it. The reality is most people in general simply skim documents. Especially larger documents. So even though they signed it, doesn’t mean they consumed it. childcare policies
My contract is 10 pages long and when I add all the other enrollment documents it comes to a whopping 20 pages of text. That’s a lot of information. Even I probably can’t recall everything that’s in it. childcare policies
Here are a few ways to tell parents again, get them to understand and more importantly comply with all that information you just gave them that they probably didn’t read:
When to Tell Them?
When should you remind parents about your policies? How does all the time sound?
Did you just roll your eyes?
I know it does sound like a lot, but not really. The key is to do it routinely and in different ways. childcare policies
Now by no means to you have to use all of the Hows above. Maybe just start with just two. Send out a mass email or newsletter once a month or quarter. And maybe add to that a posted notice by the sign-in sheet. childcare policies
What would that look like?
So let’s say you are having problems with on-time pickups. In a highlighted section of your newsletter, you would say something like “Parents to avoid late fees, remember to keep your contracted pickup times.” You could use the same wording on the notice you post.
Here’s another version –
If you send home daily notes, choose a policy that you feel is being abused or that needs addressing and print that on the back or attach a separate note. You could even rotate key policy reminder notes this way once a week or once a month.
The point is most people, not just parents, do not consume all of the information they are given. Even when it comes to childcare.
That being the case, one of the best ways to get clients to comply is continued communication. Using the What, How and When to Tell Them is a great way to incorporate constant advisement into a providers routine.
So we covered the What, How and When to communicate with clients. If you are saying to yourself, “This is adding more work to what I already do.”
I’ll admit, you are right.
It is definitely adding a little more work for the provider. But I think you will agree, a little more work is probably worth it and fair trade for a lot less frustration.
So here’s a challenge for you. If you are dealing with parents who aren’t following even some of your policies, try to implement just one of the “How’s” above.