How to host an amazing tour

Published on Tuesday, 07 July 2020
Last updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2020

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With life slowly becoming more familiar in the post lockdown world, now is a great time to take a look at how effectively you are engaging with parents via tours, and what measures are in place to boost enrolments.

Tours offer early childhood service managers the opportunity to showcase staff, facilities, services and programs to a captive and engaged audience of parents. They are a very effective forum for converting lookers into bookers and it’s worthwhile spending a bit of time and thought planning them out.

While many early childhood services have an open door policy and encourage prospective parents to pop in for a chat at any time, these more casual liaisons should not replace a structured tour, which is your chance to demonstrate the unique selling points of your service and introduce families to staff members.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when thinking about and planning your tours:

  • Make it really easy for parents to book a tour. Use the free Request a Tour tool on your profile page and be sure to follow up with a phone call once a request has been made
  • Consider producing a high-quality video tour of your service and making it available via your profile page. An engaging and well-made virtual tour should showcase some of your key selling points but should leave parents wanting more. At the end of the video be sure to include a call to action explaining how parents can book an in-person tour. 
  • Plan your tour carefully from beginning to end. Highlight your centre’s best features and aim to motivate and inspire parents. Brief your staff and ensure they are aware of the tour protocol and how to engage with and speak to parents.

Child care marketing expert Kris Murray says that many early childhood directors are rightly employed for their experience as an educator, their staff management skills and their ability to keep the service running smoothly, but that these skills aren’t necessarily what is required for running an effective tour.

Ms Murray says it’s very important for directors to identify the staff member who is best placed to ‘sell’ the service and then seal the deal by offering families the opportunity to enrol.

“Tour leaders need to be able to identify a parent’s unique needs, emotionally connect with a family and demonstrate above and beyond that their service is the most well equipped to accommodate those needs. They also need to be comfortable asking for the business,” she says.

Sealing the deal isn’t necessarily easy, especially with high vacancy rates and parents enjoying the luxury of being able to choose from a number of high-quality early childhood services.

To this end, here are eight tips from Kris Murray on how to convert tour participants into enrolled families in your early childhood service:

  1. Before the tour begins, take a look at any information you know about the family coming in and see if there are any commonalities so you can better relate to them during the tour. If you don’t have anything to work with beforehand, look for ways to build rapport throughout the tour. At minimum, make sure to address them by their names and reference their child’s name.
  2. Consider your mindset when giving a tour: Are you just hoping to seal the deal or are you actually taking the time to demonstrate how your school can provide solutions to the needs that that family is expressing?
  3. Learn to be transparent during tours. You might fear not being able to check off all the boxes of a parent’s checklist by doing this, but they will appreciate your open communication and transparency more than anything else. Whether or not that family is a fit for your school, they won’t hesitate to share their pleasant experience when touring your school with their friends that are looking for care.
  4. Rather than trying to sell families into your program, take a more authentic approach and “invite” them to enrol and register. You should be “inviting” them to join your community.
  5. The language you use around closing a tour will greatly influence your closing rate. You should be using language that sounds warm, genuine, and elegant.
  6. If you don’t invite a family to enrol with you as you wrap up a tour, you are doing them a disservice. If you have created a high-quality program, you should be doing whatever you can to convince that family that their child will significantly benefit from being enrolled at with your service.
  7. Every step within your enrolment process needs to have a call to action attached to it, including your tour. Sometimes clients need their hand held along the way and require some encouragement to take action.
  8. If a family isn’t ready to enrol right then, offer to follow up with them and make sure you follow through on that offer. You will amaze them with your professionalism and courtesy.

For more expert tips from Kris Murray visit the Child Care Success Company or download the Marketing Guide for Early Childhood Services.

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