The key to winning against competing settings is being different. In a world with so many businesses offering similar services, this can seem difficult. But, with a little thought, you can make your nursery, pre-school or childminding business stand out.

What is different and why is it better?

Being different doesn’t necessarily mean changing the world. Companies like Ryan Air stand out by offering the lowest prices. Saga have carved a niche by going after a very particular customer base; the over-50’s.

Apple, by producing high-quality products and being more inventive than other organisations, can command a higher price than their competitors. They even went with the slogan ‘Think different’.

Michael Porter is a Professor at Harvard. He’s famous for his work on overcoming competition and is quoted as saying, “Competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value.”

What this means for a childcare provider is that all settings will offer childcare, so that’s not worth shouting about. However, being the only one open until 7pm is something that could persuade someone to choose you. You may all claim to offer great childcare, but being the only one with an outstanding Ofsted grade will make you different.

How to find what’s different

It’s quite easy to find out what’s different about your setting. You can do this on your own, but it can help to do it with your team.

  1. Start with a blank sheet of paper
  2. List your main competitors (the people who parents will consider alongside you)
  3. Now imagine you’re a parent. What would make you go with each one over the others? Is it location? Is it facilities? Is it size? Is it part of a big chain and has access to nursery software?
  4. Now look at your own setting and write down why a parent would choose you over the others (things you have or do that are different or better)

There you have it! Point four is your unique advantage over the others!

If you struggled to come up with anything for point four, that’s OK. You could ask your existing parents why they chose you in the first place. Most will be able to give some indication, whether it be that they thought your facilities were fantastic, or perhaps that you offered healthy and interesting meals compared to your competitors.

Now what?

Shout about what sets you apart from everyone else!  Use every opportunity you can to highlight to prospective new parents that you offer something which isn’t run of the mill. For instance, you could mention your unique advantage in conversation when you do showrounds. You could publish  a testimonial from an existing parent in your brochure about how this particular advantage led them to choose your childcare setting over a rival’s.  You could even update your social media page with a status reminding people what makes you different from everyone else.

Find out more about using social media to advertise your setting!

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