Getting the word out about your new daycare center, or even an established daycare center, is extremely important. It’s the sort of thing that is on-going and never ending because you want to keep your center fully enrolled. Even after your center is at full capacity, it’s a good idea to keep those business cards circulating. Many schools provide business cards to teachers and ask them to distribute them wherever they go. You can never have too many leads when you operate a daycare center.
Here are a few inexpensive ways to receive notice in your community:
1. Create colorful business cards for yourself and your staff. Be sure the print is easily read and that the contact information is clear. Give more than one way to contact the center: email, telephone, fax. The easier you make it for people to request more information or schedule a visit the more likely it is they will do so.
2. Contact your local newspapers about your new center, or if you are currently operating about a special event that you will be hosting. It might be the Preschoolers’ Art Fair and it might be of social interest to the community. Many local newspapers would be pleased to interview the director or owner of a new child care center. They would also be pleased to report on a school event in their community news section. You could also pay to place an ad in the newspaper but free ink is always better.
2. Remember to introduce yourself to the medical community, specifically the medical community that works with children and women. Contact the local maternity wards in local hospitals. Many hospitals are pleased to distribute your brochure to new parents for future reference. Get your name out there early. Introduce yourself to pediatricians and dentists. If you are creative, put together a small brochure of your center with helpful hints for looking at schools.
3. Schedule programs of interest to appear in your school. An example might be opening your door to a CPR for Parents Class, or a local puppet show. Allowing parents to visit within your center helps them to feel comfortable and they talk about their experiences with their friends.
4. Introduce yourself to the child referral services in your community. These are often located within the Department of Health, Corporate Human Resource Departments, Union Offices, College Admissions Offices, and Guest Services at Hotels. They are always delighted to be able to pass your information along. Be sure to provide them with information indicating your child care license number and indicate who is responsible for monitoring your program. You will need to check in often with these groups to see if they need more brochures and to build a friendly relationship with their staff.
5. Introduce yourself to local school personnel and businesses. They will be delighted to receive your information and perhaps place a flyer in their window. Grocery stores and laundromats are very good places to post your information. If you are in an area where there are apartment buildings you may be able to post flyers on the tenet bulletin board.
6. Create a colorful banner that is displayed outside your facility. Make it simple and make the contact information clear.
7. Schedule a booth at a local educational fair where you will meet families who are looking at different schools. Even though these families may have older children, they probably know other families who would be interest in your services.
8. Create a website presence where you can post information about your program and services.
9. Follow up through snail mail on every inquiry you have received. Even a simple post card of your school with a short note makes a lasting impression. Again, have all contact information position in an easy to read space.
10. Use technology. Create a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Post interesting things about your center without posting any personally identifiable pictures of staff or children unless you have permission.
Remember that advertising for a daycare is never, ever done. At best you can capture a student for the infant room and retain for 4-5 years. Then that student is gone. Often students will leave earlier because they are moving. Always maintain a waiting list and encourage families to place their name on the waiting list. And, never stop putting your name out before the public.