How to Handle Interviews with Parents…
Call the parent a few days before the interview to confirm the appointment or send a postcard reminder.
Set up a quiet area of your home where you can sit down and have an easy conversation with parents.
Have an open mind at the start. Make it clear to the parent at the beginning that both the parent and you have to agree to enroll a child. Don’t hesitate to turn a parent down if you believe that conflicts with the parent or the child would be too hard for you to handle.
You may want to begin with having the parent start off by asking questions. Use your Parent Interview Checklist to take notes on. Parents who have their questions answered first are more likely to feel at ease and be more receptive to you and your program. (If you put the parent on your waiting list, refer to this checklist again before enrolling the child.)
Ask open-ended questions to help you identify parent and child needs. An open-ended question is one that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Examples: What would be the most important thing I could do to help your child grow? ”What are your child’s special interests?” “What do you see your child doing in three months, one year, five years?” Your response should be to point out how your program can meet these expectations.
Present the parents with an Enrollment Packet. Inside place:
• Business cards for both parents
• Business Flyer
• Choosing Child Care Checklist
• References from current or previous clients
• Background credentials: years of experience, training credentials, education degrees, memberships to networks or accredited associations (SECCN, NAEYC, FCCPSD)
• Your contract and policies describing your rates, payment policies, hours, daily schedule, paid vacations, and holidays.
• An Enrollment Form for parents to sign
• Sample Menus from the Food Program
• Food Program Intro Letter
• Examples of Forms: Medication Authorization, Permission to Travel, Ouch Report, and Medical Consent forms, etc.
• Brochure on the curriculum you use, samples of art or worksheets
• Example of Today’s Happenings
• Copy of your License or Registration
• Your Website http address
• The latest copy of your Newsletter
You may not give out an enrollment packet unless a parent is signing up. That can be expensive. You could send your business flyer to those who call, before an interview. Contracts, parent handbooks, or business websites could be shared for viewing both prior to the parent interview or after.
Give a tour of your business emphasizing it is a safe, fun, and creative place to learn. Describe for them what they are seeing.
Show parents and children a scrapbook or photo album that illustrates aspects of your program. Let them check out a DVD of photos of your children’s day that may have been put to music. One suggestion would be to use the program ProShow Gold. It is a fun program to use when putting photos to music. With the permission of your current clients, a closed Facebook page developed for your business could be shown at this time.
If you want to enroll the child, ask the parent, “Are you ready to make a decision at this time? If you decide today, I have the paperwork here for you to fill out.” If the parent is not ready to make a decision, ask, “Is there anything else I can do to help you make a decision today?” If the parent needs more time, say, “When do you think you will be able to make a decision? Can I call you at that time?” It is a good idea to give the parent a specific deadline to make a decision especially if you have other prospective parents. You should tell the parent if you do.
If you decide not to enroll the parent, tell the parent, “I don’t think this would be a good fit for your child at this time. It’s nothing personal about you or your child. My decision is based on my own feelings.” Don’t elaborate on your reasons. Remind the parent that earlier you explained that both of you had to agree before the child could be enrolled.
If you are conducting a lot of interviews but having few parents want to enroll in your program, this may be a sign that you need to reevaluate what you are doing. Examine closely what might be going wrong:
• Was your home presentable?
• Did the parents show signs of disapproval of things you said or about your policies?
You may want to call the parents and conduct a quick survey. The questions to ask might be:
“Have you found care for your child? If so, why did you choose that program?”
“What did you like about my program?”
“What did you dislike about my program?”
“What could have been different about this program that would have changed your mind?”
If you are nervous about conducting interviews with parents, you may want to role-play the entire process with a friend. Ask the friend for honest feedback:
• Were you friendly, and did you put the parent at ease?
• Did you ask specific questions about the parent’s needs?
• Did you clearly explain your program’s benefits?
• Did you ask directly for the parent to enroll the child?
Sometimes all it takes to conduct a good interview with parents is practice. The above information was taken from Tom Copeland’s book, Family Child Care Marketing Guide, which is available through RedLeaf Press.