Masterclass Recap: A Guide to Full Enrollment, Part Two

HINGE Operations & Staffing Consultant Kathe Petchel took the reins for this month’s THRIVE Masterclass as she continued her presentation on how best to engage childcare staff in the shared goal of reaching full enrollment.


After reviewing last month’s information-packed webinar (watch it here), Kathe dove into her book recommendation for November. Drumroll please… it’s The Go Giver!

A fantastic read for any business owner, The Go Giver was originally recommended by HINGE Founder & CEO Kathy Ligon, who requested the HINGE team to dive into the book before our annual strategic planning. And what a read it was! The Go Giver book is all about adding value, being authentic and being receptive to the clients you serve. And for childcare business owners, this applies to the families you serve as well as the staff in your care!

So, taking a few tidbits from The Go Giver, Kathe revealed concrete ways childcare business owners and directors can use their staff during center tours to land new enrollments.

First, it’s important for you and your staff to know the lifetime value of a customer. Putting actual dollar signs on a family can help your staff buy-in to the importance of increasing your enrollment numbers. The average number we hear from clients who have calculated their lifetime customer values ranges between $50,000 and $75,000 per enrollment. That’s huge! Knowing this lifetime value and having your staff understand this value is key.

But in order to land an enrollment, you’ve got to book them in for a center tour.

(For a review on the top tips and tricks to implement to get staff involved in booking center tours, please watch last month’s recorded THRIVE Masterclass here.)

Once you’ve booked a family in for a center tour, you should know when they’re coming in, their child’s name, their child’s age and other important information about the family. Say it with us: Proper planning prevents poor performance! That is why Kathe likes to book tours at specific times during the day—9:30am and 11am—and always notifies her staff which families are visiting that day.

Kathe also encourages using assumptive language during the center tour. For example, everything the tour giver says should reflect that they are under the assumption the family will be enrolling at the school. “This is where little Henry will be eating his lunch,” or, “This will be little Holly’s classroom. Her teacher’s name is Mrs. Oliver.”

Here are all the things you should have prepped prior to a center tour:

  • Alert your staff at least 1 day ahead. Let them know which rooms you’ll be showing, the exact time of the tour and information regarding the child.

  • Classrooms should be ‘tour ready.’ This means that activities are out, not put away. But you still want your rooms relatively clean!

  • Give a 5-minute warning to staff so they can finish up with diapers, cleaning and preparation before you begin the tour.

  • Greet every family by name—shaking their hands, giving them a big smile and a genuine hello.

  • If possible, switch places with a teacher for 3-5 minutes so they can tell two or three of your USPs to the families themselves.

  • If the child is on the tour with their parents, engage with them gently.

Another great tip from Kathe? Have your tour givers certified. This means making sure they know the answers to any and all questions that may come their way from families during a tour. Similar to the training and certification of their phone skills as mentioned in our previous webinar. Tour givers also learn best when they are shadowed and assisted. We like following the process of ‘Do, Watch, Watch, Do.’

Follow a natural routine and path for each of your center tours. Kathe likes to define tour stops at her centers so that every tour giver follows a similar path. However, it’s also important to be flexible and adjust to each family’s needs. Focus on three elements you know the family is most interested in.

Offer a drink or snack to the family during the tour and talk more than you listen. Yes, you are the expert about your school, but the parents are the experts about their child.

NEVER forget a family’s name. You want to make them feel important. That’s also why it is important to get all of their contact info and make sure their intake form is completed so you can follow up with them.  

Gain further buy-in from your staff by being generous with them when they land enrollments for you. They will aim to continuously improve their tour giving skills if they know there’s a potential reward to be won. Providing staff bonuses and giving shoutouts to staff members who land you new enrollments is a great way to inspire more engagement from staff.

You can also gain further buy-in from new enrollments by providing them with promo items and enrollment gifts. Kathe’s school likes to give out books and t-shirts to new families. She’s also given lunch bags, bottles and book bags to new enrollees.

You can also gift smaller items to anyone who takes the time to tour your facility but maybe doesn’t sign with you in the long run. This may encourage them to consider you later if the childcare center they did choose doesn’t work out.

Other easy ways to engage staff in the goal of reaching full enrollment include…

  • Keep your staff informed about your enrollment progress. What’s your goal for the month? How many calls do you need to receive to reach this goal?

  • Use occasional meetings for phone and tour trainings. If your number one goal is customer care and responsiveness, your enrollments will reflect this!

  • Let people know when you treat your staff and your families by sharing it on your Facebook, in your blogs or within an eBlast.

  • Ask staff for their input and ideas. They want to feel heard and included in the process!

  • Get your staff to post on social media, host enrollment events, follow up with families personally, take photographs or write their own post for your blog. 

Implementing just a few of these straightforward methods will help your staff get more involved in your business and increase enrollments for your childcare business.

Join us next month for our year-end, wrap-up webinar featuring Kathy Ligon and Kathe Petchel. This dynamic duo will be teaming up to answer all of your pressing staffing questions on Tuesday, December 11th at 1pm Eastern. Keep a lookout on our social media pages and in your inbox so you can send us your questions ahead of the webinar. Sign up link will be posted soon on the website!

Meredith Martin