Planning a Child Care Open House
by Cathy Abraham
An Open House is one of the best marketing tools available, and is a great way to showcase your center to perspective parents! The following are some tips and suggestions to assist you in hosting your most successful event ever of this type.
Planning and Preparation
- Discuss your plans, ideas, and potential dates for your Open House with your Area Manager and corporate marketing representative. They will be able to offer many ideas, resources and support. Keep them posted on your progress and any barriers you foresee.
- Put some thought into the date you select. If there are events that will be bringing people downtown, you may want to capitalize on that. Be aware of conflicting local events that may restrict participation as well.
- Inventory your supply of brochures, business cards, marketing materials, and enrollment paperwork.
- Obtain flyers and banner to promote your Open House from the corporate office.
- Distribute the flyer to as many businesses and companies in the area as possible.
- Call or mail information to previous inquiries &/or tours.
- Send flyers to the DHHS workers and offices that the center has professional relationships with.
- Consider inviting/collaborating with an agency that provides services to young children. Example: Having the Health Department there, doing children's immunizations will bring your target market in.
- Send out press releases to local papers.
Prep for During the Event
- Have a small basket of books and toys in your office to occupy children, making it easier for you to converse with parents.
- Have several simple activities for children available. The best activities for this type of event:
- require minimal supervision
- require little or no explanation or directives
- accommodate all skill levels
- reflect activities incorporated into the program and serve as examples
- Put together dozens of enrollment packets so that paperwork is ready, complete and organized.
- Have a guest sign-in book to assist you with attendee follow up. Another way to secure names, addresses and phone numbers is to have a drawing for a doorprize.
- Make sure that your center looks its best! Initial impressions often determine enrollment decisions.
- Designate appropriate staff members to be in the front entryway area to greet people and talk with them as they come in - in addition to thanking them as they leave...and making sure that they take brochures and information home with them.
- Keep refreshments simple. It typically works best if an adult or parent needs to assist children, instead of having them serve themselves...over and over and over!
- Set up a display-type table in a highly visible place, consisting of items such as: Parent Handbooks, developmental checklists, samples of classroom activities, center photo albums (if you have them), samples of the Clifford series, business cards, the curriculum overview, brochures, etc.
- Remember - you will have individuals in the building that you do not know, and you will be distracted and speaking with people much of the time. Make sure that no confidential items are left out in your office, and that things of value are locked up.
- Have some nice, calm music playing.
- It is not too early to talk up summer!
- Call or send a thank you to attendees.
Some Questions to ask yourself...
- How does the center look?
- How does the center smell?
- Are the classrooms inviting?
- Do I present a professional image?
- Do staff know what is expected of them?
- Have I asked parents to take Open House flyers with them to their jobs, if they can?
- Have I given out information to all of the businesses by the center?
- What would I think if I were seeing the center for the first time?
- What would I think of the classrooms if I were a parent looking for care?
- Are people entering the building being greeted?
- Are children being made to feel welcome?
- Listen...how does the center sound? How are children spoken to?
You can utilize Cathy's Open House Signs if you wish. Good luck with your open house!