How to Make a Good First Impression Providing Tours to Prospective Parents
The initial interactions a parent has with a school and its staff have a big impact on their feelings and opinions about that school and on their childcare decisions. A warm, positive welcome conveys to parents that the overall school atmosphere is nurturing and supportive. A clean and vibrant facility establishes that your school is a safe and healthy place for their child to learn and grow. And an organized and thoughtful tour communicates that a childcare center is well-prepared and provides a calm, productive learning environment. Read below for tips to ensure a good first impression:
Be Available to Connect with Families
When a family reaches out to your school for information, it is essential that they are able to easily and quickly talk with someone who can answer their questions. Each call is a potential future student, and families are apt to quickly move on to looking at other childcare centers when they are unable to reach a school. To ensure that you connect with any interested families, make a communication plan with your staff:
- Be sure that there is always someone available to accept phone calls and that they are trained in scheduling tours and communicating with families in a friendly and professional manner.
- If teachers are part of the communication plan, even as a backup, include them in any training to maintain consistent and positive messaging.
- If there are times when no one is available to answer the phone, including after hours, create a professional voicemail that lets families know you are away doing the important work of teaching and caring for young children. Be sure to respond to voicemails promptly–within the hour whenever possible.
Prepare for the Tour
It is important to make preparations for a tour in advance to make sure your staff is aware the tour is taking place and that classrooms and other common areas are clean and tidy.
- Before confirming a tour, check your schedule so that there are teachers and staff available to support all classrooms and welcome touring families.
- A clean and safe environment is often a top priority for parents in choosing childcare. Clean up toys that are not being used and make sure those touring can move safely throughout the space.
- When sanitizing and disinfecting, consider using products with non-chemical smells or using a pleasant-smelling air freshener after cleaning. You might also consider placing an air freshener at the entrance.
Create a Warm Welcome for Families
A tour is often the first time families are experiencing the school environment firsthand. Ideally, a tour will inspire confidence in the expertise of staff and establish a connection with families.
- Before families arrive, communicate relevant information about where they should park and how they should enter the building.
- Prepare a presentation or talking points for the tour and share it with all potential tour leaders. You might include an overview of the school including its history, educational philosophy, and other relevant details about the teaching and learning environment.
- Be available a few minutes ahead of the tour and meet families at the door. If the person leading the tour is running late, have someone communicate with those waiting and reassure them that their tour will start shortly.
- When families arrive for tours, greet them warmly. Make sure anyone who will interact with touring families understands the importance of a friendly welcome and knows the tour protocols.
Showcase Your School
Know what makes your school special, and be sure to convey that to families. Find ways to show teachers supporting young children, joyful moments of play and discovery, and an overall warm and nurturing environment.
- On the tour, Include a wide array of learning environments including classrooms, common areas, and outdoor playspaces and playgrounds. You might highlight educational materials, tools for sensory play, and opportunities for social interaction.
- As you visit these different locations, talk about how their child will benefit from learning and playing in these spaces. Keep the age of the prospective child in mind as you share how your school is a good fit. This helps parents to imagine their child in the space and gets them excited about the opportunities you can provide.
- End the tour with plenty of time available to share more about the school curriculum, to answer any parent questions, and to talk through next steps. Find a calm and quiet space for this important conversation and make sure that families leave feeling excited about and connected to your school.