How to Advertise Your Daycare
by Marina Nuno
(Editor's Note: We have many providers and parents that visit our Daycare.com Forum daily. In one thread member MarinaVanessa offered her years of marketing exprierence to help others advertise their childcare businesses.)
The best way to promote your business is to understand there is not one way that is going to work. You have to use several different means. I network with a lot of child care providers that always ask me how I do so well when the odds are stacked against me. I live in a condo, I have a small patio, I don't have a lot of indoor or outdoor DC space, I don't have as much experience in providing child care in my home as other providers, I have even less experience in licensed child care, I don't have a degree in child development (which many child care provider's in my area now do), I'm young and look even younger so people don't always take me seriously etc. but I have as many clients as I want and still get calls even when I'm not advertising or looking for new clients. The key is to get your name out there as much as you possibly can. Sooner or later the work will be done for you.
Flyers and printed materials are great if you post them in businesses that are somehow related to children (pediatricians, children hairstylists, child dentists etc) so you can ask them if you can leave your flyer or business cards in their office. Return the favor and take back some of their business cards and printed material to pass out to the parents. For dentists it works if they give you "goody bags" with toothbrushes that have the dentist's name on them and a business card in the bag. My familes love it when I pass the bags out. Gas stations, parks and schools are also great places to post flyers but make sure you check your city ordinances and always make sure to get permision to post them first. Here are more ideas for advertising your daycare.
1) Create ads EVERYWHERE (online) with your contact info and a link to your site. There's tons of places online that help you create at least a basic ad for free. Craigslist, ebay classifieds, sales spider, Angies list, care.com, yahoo classifieds, yellow pages, google local, iNetGiant, and of course Daycare.com.
2) Talk to EVERYBODY about your daycare ALL OF THE TIME. Shamelessly plug your daycare in everyday conversations no matter who you're talking to or where your are. Example: Grocery store and the woman at the checkstand comments about something you are purchasing, you say "Oh yeah, I HAD to get that. My daycare kids love it". I've commented about my daycare to the checkers at my grocery store so much that other employees now will walk by me and say "Hi ____, shopping for good stuff for the daycare again I see" and then other people in the aisle now know that I do daycare. Happens all of the time at the dentist, at my doctor's office, at restaurant you name it. Even my friends and ex-coworkers regularly promote my daycare and send me referrals (just make sure that you at least send a thank you note to show your appreciation when someone sends you a referral). And be EXCITED and PASSIONATE when talking about your business. Make people feel about your daycare how you feel about it.
3) Post Your Location. I know alot of people don't like to post their addresses on their advertising however I just don't think it's business-wise. I added my daycare on google maps so that when people googled child care in this area I'd pop up. This generation of parents are younger and use the internet to find businesses in their area including child care so take advantage of that. I had a woman call me last week and I offered to refer her to other providers that I knew that had openings. I gave her names and general areas of the other providers (all within a mile of me) and she said that she had seen them in her google search but called me because she immediately knew that my location would work for her. She actually told me that she wished that other [family] daycares would do that because it would make it a lot easier to find a daycare in the area that she needed. And don't stop at Google, add your daycare to Yahoo business listings and other major search engine directories. A basic listing is free but you have to list your address (no PO boxes). If you have a website you can link it to your directory listing too.
4) Have a website. If you don't have one yet, get one. You don't have to get all fancy but make it look organized and clean. You can create one easily and for free if you use sites like wix.com or weebly.com. Put a lot of useful information on it like your hours, contact information, information about you, your program and your equipment/toys etc. Whatever the people ask you about most during interviews should be on the website. Put your contract and policies on it so that parents can read them in advance. Update your website frequently. Updating it pushes you up higher in search engine searches, if you don't update it regularly search engines like Google will put you lower in search listings because they want people to find websites with the most relevant and up to date imformation as possible. Make the information stuff that people want to read. You can even make a section for parents only where they can view photos, see a calendar etc. The more people that view your website the higher the listing you get in search engines.
5) Submit your website URL to Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ucanto, Self Promote, Addpro, Free Site Submission, Quick Register etc. Otherwise it can take FOREVER for your website to be added to the search listings or you can be placed really low on the list.
6) Offer incentives to your current clients. Give them $50-$100 off of a weeks tuition if they refer someone that signs up and stays for at least 4 weeks. Give your clients a reason to want to refer you to others that will benefit them.
7) Meet and network with other providers near you and stay in touch about what openings they have. Offer to refer clients to them if you get a call for a child that you can't take and vice versa. For example if you have an opening for an infant but don't offer SA care and another provider doesn't do infant care but offers SA care you could refer clients to each other.
All in all this is just some of the things that you can do to promote your business, there are tons of other ways to do it but like I said, it's a combination of things that really works and not just one thing alone!