How to Increase Your Occupancy Rate

How to Increase Your Occupancy Rate 3168 3168 Nursery Story

Childcare is a very competitive sector, and nursery managers, directors and owners are looking for ways to attract parents and increase revenue now that we are going back to the new ‘normal’.

It is well known that some nurseries have been struggling with low occupancy levels due to the pandemic and rising number of competitors. Now that we’re looking forward to a gradual return to normal, it’s time to start planning how to hit your occupancy goals.

Step 1. Understand What Parents Want

Parents and Early Years practitioners share a common goal: to encourage and support the healthy growth and development of children.

Understanding in detail what parents expect from a nursery and how exactly the setting environment helps achieve this goal puts you ahead in positioning your setting as their best option.

Parent priorities may vary depending on location, their children’s age group, and their knowledge of the Early Years sector. However, expectations usually revolve around the following areas:

  • Safety: Parents expect nurseries to have the highest safety standards in place (staff background checks, compliance with health and safety, Covid protocols, etc.).
  • Health and well-being: Parents’ expectations usually involve healthy meal plans and a varied activity programme that includes a balanced mix of physical activity and rest.
  • All-round support: Parents want to know what type of developmental support a nursery setting offers. That includes everything from learning materials to resources and activities for play time.
  • Commitment to quality: Parents are more likely to go ahead with enrolment when the setting makes it evident that they’re committed to excellence. This is usually reflected in staff recruitment and training, testimonials from happy parents, and Ofsted inspection reports.

Step 2. Build A Strong Parent Community

Being a parent is full of challenges, and Early Years settings can help parents find the information and support they need to rise to that challenge. In addition, occupancy levels can increase if you show that you care about parents just as much as you do about their children. 

You can help parents connect with each other to build a strong parent community by:

  • Setting up parent forums or online communities.
  • Scheduling events where parents can meet and connect.
  • Offering incentives for referrals. Discounts, gift cards, or cash rewards can help boost local enrolment.

Step 3. Invest in Hiring and Training The Right Staff

Hiring qualified staff who are passionate about their job is one of the first steps towards building a solid community.

When parents visit your pre-school for an Open Day, they pay extra special attention to how your staff interact with children. For example, parents will observe how committed and caring your team is when working with children.

Make sure you have a training plan and work on creating a motivating work atmosphere. Always be responsive to staff feedback and do all you can to provide the tools your staff need to shine in their role. 

Remember that your staff members are a powerful marketing and engagement tool.

Step 4. Be Flexible

During the past year, the needs and schedule of many parents have changed. So if you want to cater to those needs, you should assess your opening hours and policies to see if they’re in line with what parents require.

Convenience and flexibility are a huge bonus when it comes to things like pick up and drop off options.

Step 5. Go The Extra Mile

To boost occupancy rates at your setting and position it as the best option, think about how you can go the extra mile and impress parents. The key is to offer activities that are valuable and relevant. 

Look for partnerships with local businesses so that parents can access in-demand services or activities at a discounted rate. You can also consider how to use your website to deliver value. For example, having authoritative and practical content posted regularly can help create a positive reputation and motivate parents to enrol. 

Step 6. Have A Solid Marketing Strategy

Running a nursery or Early Years setting is a business. And like other businesses, these venues can benefit from a well-designed marketing strategy. Word of mouth or referral programmes can help, but you’ll increase your chances of standing out if you don’t leave marketing to chance. 

It’s best to focus on local marketing first. Don’t assume parents in your local area know you exist, or you may end up missing opportunities. Some ideas for you to try include:

  • Advertise in places where parents gather, such as parks, office buildings, petrol stations, libraries, gyms, supermarkets, or local shops.
  • Create partnerships with other local businesses so they can recommend your setting. This can include estate agents, schools or removal companies.
  • Promote your setting online by creating your profile on Google My Business and keeping it updated so that parents can reach you easily.
  • Join local social media groups and be active in their discussions.

Step 7. Prioritise Parent Engagement

Improving occupancy levels is a short-term goal that a long-term vision must support: boosting retention. 

It’s not enough to get parents to enrol their children – ideally, you want to make sure they stay with you year after year.

Here’s where the concept of customer retention comes into play. Retention is the natural result of genuine engagement and satisfaction, which requires an ongoing effort to ensure your setting is up to parent standards. 

Engagement also relies on effective communication, which is essential to build meaningful relationships with parents.

How does Nursery Story support parent-teacher communication?

Improving parent-practitioner communication is part of our mission at Nursery Story. Our nursery app has many features devoted to that goal: daily reports, instant messaging, learning journeys, a dedicated FREE Parent App and everything you may need to keep parents involved in the development journey.

Our app is continually being developed by Early Years experts to help Early Years settings nurture relationships with parents and build a strong and resourceful community.

Looking to bring your nursery business to the next level?

Now is the best time to give your nursery setting the competitive edge it needs and help you reach your occupancy goals.

Use Nursery Story for FREE.

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