Falling occupancy can be a real issue for childcare providers
Falling occupancy can be a major problem for childcare providers; no nursery would like to see their occupancy levels drop. For many nurseries it may have taken a while to build occupancy numbers and then to see a drop in these can be devastating.
We already know that profit for a nursery comes from looking after 3 to 4 year olds this is due to the staff to child ratios 1: 8, so surely this is the age group that nurseries should be looking to attract. However with the increase of the free childcare places for 3 -4 year olds the outcome of taking on more of this age group could lead to some nurseries being financially unstable.
Many nurseries tackle this issue by increasing fees to offset the drop in revenue, however for many parents the cost of childcare is already at the top of their outgoings.
Here are some ideas of ways to tackle falling occupancy levels
Presentation: Making that first impression
- Making a first impression is imperative as when parents leave your nursery and move onto the next one, you want them to be able to remember what your nursery looked like.
- If your nursery is in need of some painting to freshen up areas, make this a priority as it may make all the different to your visitor.
- When answering the telephone, be polite and by giving your name gives that person touch of which potential customers will value.
- Re visit your notice boards and ensure information is up to date and old tatty posters are removed or replaced.
- Ensure your nursery has a pleasant smell, there is nothing worse than walking into a nursery that smells unpleasant, but don’t be too overpowering with the air fresheners.
- Remove any clutter that is sitting in areas that look uninviting, having a good clear out can make the environment look clean and spacious.
Parent Partnership event
As we know many parents are sometimes in a rush in the morning, this can lead to them not really understanding what goes on at nursery. To help overcome this why not;
- Hold regular open days, invite grandparents etc. This will give parents a better understanding of what goes on at nursery and it will build a stronger customer relationship.
- Some nurseries have a parent liaison representative, groups of parents gather together to discuss ideas and the parent liaison representative communicates these ideas back to the nursery manager. This works well if strict guidelines are put in place by the nursery manager/owner prior to the group being established.
Approach existing customers: Up sell
As you already have existing customers who are happy with your service why not try and generate more revenue from this client base.
- Look at your quiet sessions across the week eg Friday afternoons etc and offer these sessions to existing parents at a reduced rate.
- Offer this on a month to month basis, first come first served
Loyalty schemes: Introduce a Friend
This can be an easy way to increase occupancy, however make sure what you are offering doesn’t leave you out of pocket
Some people think this type of marketing is less effective especially when dropping leaflets through doors and how many of these actually have children. However you may find that some parents are looking for a couple of sessions for their child to help them socialise and interact more.
Leaflets are more effective if you include a call to action eg bring this leaflet with you for free taster session. Have you ever thought of putting up posters in your local libraries, doctors, dentists and Children Centres?
New housing developments are a good place to target; leave some leaflets in the sales office on site. New families looking around these new housing developments may be in need of a nearby nursery; therefore having these leaflets on show may help close that final sale.
If there aren’t any new housing developments nearby, why not approach estate agents as families may be moving into the area and on their list of requirement is a nearby nursery. Why not offer the estate agents a box of chocolates or bottle of wine for every customer that joins the nursery.
These are just a few suggestions in helping tackle falling occupancy levels. Good luck.