In the National Childcare Survey which we carried out earlier this year, we found that childcare providers had an average occupancy rate of 80.24%. The lowest rate reported was 30% and the highest was 100%.

If you’re not currently operating at full capacity, here are five top tips to increase your occupancy rate easily and without spending much money:

1.Ask for referrals from parents

Set up a referral scheme to reward parents when they successfully recommend their friends or family to your setting. This could include a £25 shopping voucher, a small one-off discount to their fees or whatever you can afford. Remember, average fees for a full time place at a nursery are £900 per month. So, if a new child is with your setting for 12 months on a full time basis, that’s £900 x12 = £ 10,800. When seen from this perspective, offering a £25 voucher is not very much money compared to how much business you’ll gain in comparison!

2.Keep in touch with local press

Promoting your nursery through different local media is a great way to let parents know about your provision. Hold an open day and ask a journalist to come down and cover the story. Put together a press release whenever your nursery participates in something exciting, like National Storytelling Week, then send it to a few newspapers for publishing.

3.Befriend an estate agency

Couples and families moving into the local area may well be looking for childcare once they’ve settled in, so befriending an estate agency is a great idea. New housing developments are really good source of business, too. Visit some local estate agencies with a gift such as donuts or a box of chocolates and ask whether they wouldn’t mind displaying your leaflets in their office.

4.Talk to local businesses

Leaflet dropping and talking to local businesses can work wonders to boost your occupancy rate. If your budget permits it, you could even negotiate preferential rates with an employer for any member of staff who registers their children at your nursery. Many employers don’t take a lot of time to discuss options for childcare in the local area with their employees, so this is one way you can help encourage this.

5.Make a good first impression

Try to look at your setting as though you were visiting it for the first time. Does the paint on the door look tired? Does the entrance way look cluttered? How up-to-date is the information on your notice board? All these things are easy to overlook when you run a busy setting, but they can all contribute to parents taking away a positive or negative impression when they come to visit.


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