For any childcare setting, having an idea of what other local childcare providers are doing is the key to helping you win the business of parents walking through your door.
In much the same way that Asda keeps tabs on their competitors’ pricing (which they highlight to customers in their TV ads such as “Gavin the Gnome.”) - knowing your rival’s strengths and weaknesses will make a big difference when a parent asks why they should choose your setting.
Step 1 – Do some recon
There will be a few key performance points you will want to measure to see how your competitors stack up against what you offer, namely
- The price they charge per child
- What’s included in their service
- Do they offer any extras (like snacks)
- What their facilities are like
Now, try to think like a potential parent looking for a childcare provider. What do you think would be most important to them? Is there anything which would really sway their decision if two settings offered exactly the same thing and were similarly priced? If you aren’t sure what factors would play a part in their decision, ask some of your existing parents why they chose your setting in the first place.
Step 2 – Arm yourself with the facts
Gathering information about other local childcare providers is an easy process. You may wish to start with two or three nurseries to start off with and track their activities in detail. This can be done by:
- Typing their name into a search engine and seeing what comes up
- Visiting their website
- Subscribing to their newsletter so you get updates of their activities
- Joining their page on Facebook
- Following them on Twitter
- Browsing through the photos on their website
- Stopping by their setting and asking for a brochure
Once you become familiar with the initial nurseries you choose to research, write a list of the main strengths and weaknesses you think they have.
Step 3 – Be the best in battle
When potential parents are looking around your setting for the first time; don’t be afraid to ask them what other childcare providers they have visited locally to build up a picture of who you're up against. If you know that a certain competitor they are considering has inflexible booking patterns, you could highlight how flexible you are and how important it is to have flexible patterns to suit the busy pace of family life. That might prompt the parents to notice the weakness at the other setting, without you having to openly criticise their way of working.
If this conversation is pitched correctly, you will soon start to see the fruits of your labour when your occupancy levels increase. And you’ll be glad you did your homework!
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