So they’ve taken the tour, you’ve followed up with them, and they tell you that they’re choosing another preschool. It’s easy to take this kind of news personally, but every problem is really an opportunity. Here’s how you can turn adversity into an advantage and learn from these experiences to make your next tour even better!
Step 1. Ask them which preschool they are planning to enroll with.
This is a biggy. Take careful notes on what other programs are being competitive with you. You have to determine why you’re audience is considering other options. There are two main reasons:
a. A failure to properly communicate your value.
Issues that revolve around your not effectively communicating your value sound something like:
“We’re going with XYZ Preschool because it’s free/less expensive.”
Cost is always going to be a consideration, surely, but often times this is just a fallback answer. Parents will usually go above and beyond to ensure their children are in the best program for them.
“We’re going with XYZ Preschool because it’s closer.”
Again, distance and convenience are also a big consideration, but give a parent the choice between a far-away Ivy League and a local community program… they’re going to opt for the Ivy League.
“We’re going with XYZ Preschool because it has a larger/smaller classes.”
In this case, you haven’t appropriately framed your program offerings. If a parent expresses concerns about your programs being too big, then you haven’t adequately explained the teacher:student ratios, and how a diverse playgroup can benefit by providing more friend options. If a parent expresses concerns about your program being too small, then you can focus on the benefits of more closely-knit groups. Our philosophy: there’s the right educational experience for every family. If you’re not putting your best foot forward, you’re not giving these families the opportunity to connect with you in a meaningful way.
b. A failure to properly target your audience.
Issues that resolve around poor-targeting usually sound something like:
“We’re going with XYZ Preschool because they offer a Montessori/Reggio/Progressive/Religous-based.” (whereas you don’t)…
Sometimes a family that is taking a tour already has some idea of the education style they’re interested in. So if they walked in the door wanting a Montessori program, and your school offers Reggio, then they probably weren’t really part of your target audience to begin with. However, if a prospective family is open-minded about education styles, then make sure you’re taking the time to communicate the benefits of your particular approach to learning.
Step 2. Accept constructive criticism.
Be mindful of the kind of feedback you receive about your school from prospective families. Are you offering programs during times/days that are convenient for families in your area? Do you get comments about your space (too little light, or too cluttered)? Look at these kinds of comments as constructive criticism that can help you make important decisions about your school.
Step 3. Make a decision about keeping in touch.
Just because a family doesn’t choose your school right now, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. You can continue to build the relationship by keeping in touch. If you have them on your mailing list, don’t remove them without explicitly being asked by them to do so. You’d be surprised how many families will change their mind about their initial decision to go with a competitor. If and when that happens, you want to make sure they understand you have an excellent program that will help to nurture their little one’s mind.