Tips that will help you fill those spots.

By Gavin Nettlebeck.

It’s that time of year when the ‘big kids’ in your service head off to school and suddenly you have vacancies. This can be a stressful time with loss of income as well as the challenges that come with attracting new families to your service, interviewing and enrolling those families.

You have to get new families into your service. You feel like you’re on show and equally the families are hoping their child is on their best behaviour! As educators, small business owners and employees, we have to do our best to make sure our workplace is presented in the best possible light.

When we ran family day care from our home, we had families who were on a waiting list for vacancies. Often, we would have those families call every month to see if there were spaces available. If you work towards being full and having a waitlist, this will help during the lean times.

Ensure you keep in touch with the families on your waiting list regularly to keep them informed regarding any potential spaces becoming available, or simply just to let them know you have not forgotten about them.

Here are a few tips to help you encourage new families to visit and enrol into your service.

1. Be available and accommodating to your potential new families

Where possible try and make your service tour at a good time for your families. If it is a good experience for families, they are more likely to come to your service. If you keep putting families off or delaying a visit, they will end up going somewhere else.

Remember first impressions count, so the more accommodating you are the better chance the family will enrol at your service.

2. Take the time to listen to your family’s need before you explain what you can offer

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of listening to the family. Take a genuine interest in finding out about the child, not just things like allergies, but interests as well.

Try and understand the family dynamic; single parent, Grandparents, culture, etc. The more genuine interest you show, the more likely they will commit to being part of your service.

3. Address any questions or concerns and check to make sure they are happy with what has been explained

Families will have one or two big concerns and then perhaps ‘smaller’ concerns and/or questions. Take the time to address all questions and concerns in a clear and concise way.

If a child has any specific allergies or health needs, you will need to explain how you will handle their needs to avoid the worst happening. It’s possible you will need to create a risk assessment for that child and get back to the family with the plan.

It is really important to check with the family to make sure they are happy with the answer you have provided.

4. Follow up is critical

Be sure to hold on to your potential new family’s details so you can make a follow up call.

Follow up is critical; just to check in to see how the family is going with their decision for care or give them the opportunity to ask additional questions.

5. Looking after families that are interested in enrolling is everyone’s responsibility

The fifth and final tip is to be proactive. If you work in long day care or OSHC, don’t wait for the manager or director to be available. Any staff member can tour the family through your service and help them as much as possible.

If you don’t know the answer, be sure to tell the family you will find that answer and follow up with a phone call.

Want to know more?

Of course, we cannot cover everything on this subject in this article.

Bugs and Bare Feet will be running a workshop on ‘Engaging with Families’ that I would like to invite you to.

This is a free workshop on 8th of March at Morley Community Centre from 6.30pm-8.30pm.

Please feel free to call 0468 958 008, or email to book a place for this evening.