Inexpensive ways of researching your daycare customers and prospects
To many market research is a mammoth task conducted by specialized research individuals who conducts questionaires, face to face or telephone interviews, observation, focus groups discussions and study reports and trends. As such many daycare centres do not conduct market research. It is either because they think it is too expensive, do not have the time to do it or do not have the specialized manpower that is able to do it. Quite a lot can actually be done with very little or no additional costs incurred. It simply takes a little tweaking of the daily daycare operations to achieve that. You’ll be amazed how much you can gather with these simple methods.
Group current customers into geographic zones
Looking at current customers and group them into geographic zones, e.g. zip code. As part of the registration form, include a field for zip code of their place of work or place or residence. It’ll provide you with a better picture of the percentage of customers who select your daycare centre because it is near their place of work versus those who select your daycare centre because it is near their homes. This will help you determine the geographical area(s) to concentrate your marketing efforts on.
Survey your customers
Depending on the resources you have, you can choose to survey all your customers or every nth customer. Find out why their signed up with your centre (this can also be included in the contact / registration forms), what the customers think about your products and services, is the product meeting their needs, etc. However, remember to keep question period short – 5 questions minimum and spread it over a span of time of at least 2 weeks especially if you are surveying every nth customer.
Observe your customers
Spend a few hours for 1-2 weeks and observe your customers to find out the information that you wish to gather. For example, do your customers drive, do the children come with their breakfast or do they eat it at home, etc.
Monitor incoming phone calls
When a prospect calls up to enquire about your daycare centre, take a few seconds to gather some additional information such as where did they hear about you or where they are from. Once again, remember, to keep it short.
Track responses to ads and direct mailers
There are two simple ways of doing that.
Track the responses for a week or two after the marketing campaign has run. E.g. track how many phone calls or walk-ins you receive after you had distributed your flyers.
Include an incentive to respond. Include offers which requires them to bring the source of their communication to claim the incentive. E.g. include a “bring this coupon to redeem your gift” (discount).
For more daycare marketing tips and resources, visit Marketing your daycare