In the early childhood world, we all know that word-of-mouth is the best marketing tool. But the question is, how do we get that ball rolling? One great way to encourage this is through a referral program.
Word-of-mouth referrals remain the most important influencer for parents of young children. Parents trust recommendations from their family and friends, over any other type of advertising. For early childhood programs, developing and promoting your parent referral program is one way for your early childhood program to gain enrollment.
A child care referral program is when you encourage your current families to share your program with their friends and family. When they share your program and someone signs up, you then reward them with a discount as a ‘thank you’.
Now, how do you get started?
When developing your referral program, you will want to think about a few things.
First, the discount percentage you’d like to offer. To really get parents talking, you should make it worth their while. Offer a free week of tuition for the person who referred their friend and a $100.00 off of the first week's tuition or a free registration fee for the person that was referred.
Next, you will want to think about how the families can apply for the referral program and how you will track the referrals. There is nothing worse than a parent who’s referred someone saying they didn’t get their referral credit. Using your website as a place where referring parents can submit their referral forms keeps you organized and provides a record of who referred who and when the referral occurred. Creating a referral form on your website saves paper, time and is an easy systematic way for parents to be able to make referrals without a lot of effort on their part.
Lastly, think about whether or not you want to offer it per child or per family. Most schools offer the discount per family sign-up, however, it’s completely up to you!
Let your Families Know
Once you have developed your referral program, you’ll want to let your families know all about it. Notify families of the new referral program through all communication avenues:
Parent communication app
Mass text message
Social media posts
Banner/sign at the front desk
Add to your brochure and enrollment forms
A mix of these options works the best. Also, letting families know that you are a referral-based program on a tour is a great way to promote it as well. Families love hearing about ways they can save on tuition!