Phone Interviews

Tips for Handling Parent Phone Calls

Place the phone where loud noise from your child care children and other distractions are minimized.

Place the following items by each phone in your home so you are ready to handle phone calls.

1.     Pen or pencil

2.     Parent Call Tracking Form

3.     A list of your top three program benefits

Answer all phone calls with a business, not a personal, greeting. For example, “Juanita’s Playhouse. This is Juanita. May I help you?”

Ask for the information on the Parent Call Tracking Form PDF. Make sure to ask how they heard about your program. Use this opportunity to track the effectiveness of your promotions and advertising. Send a thank you if it was an individual that suggested your Child Care Business.

Try to sound positive and maintain an upbeat tone of voice. Smile while you are speaking. If you are distracted, excuse yourself, deal quickly with the problem, and then come back to finish the call.

If the phone rings and you are in the middle of an activity with your children, explain that and quickly take down the contact information for the potential client arranging another time to call them back.

Coach your other family members on taking potential client calls, “My mother can’t come to the phone right now because she is with the children. May I take your name and number and have her call you back shortly?”

After the phone call is over, send a thank-you note or postcard, even if it is obvious that the parent will not enroll in your program. If you have scheduled the parent for an interview, send a thank-you note along with a Choosing Child Care Checklist. Mail your business flyer and reminder notice a few days before the interview.

“How much do you charge?” Some providers will answer the question clearly and directly. Others tell parents that they must be present for an interview before discussing rates. One provider tells callers, “I am not the cheap alternative. If you are looking for the cheapest care, you should keep looking.”

On occasion, you may get a call from a parent who is in a hurry to enroll a child after talking with you for only a few minutes. Not a good sign. Invite the parent and the child for an interview right away. If the parent refuses to come to an interview, you may not want to consent to caring for the child. You could enroll the child on a drop-in basis and charge by the day for the first two weeks accessing how things are working out.

If you are getting parent calls but find that very few of the parents are accepting your invitation for an interview, this is a sign to reevaluate what you are doing. Conduct a self-examination to determine what you might be saying on the phone or how you are saying it that is causing parents to turn you down. Go over several recent phone conversations with a friend and ask for suggestions.

If you are successful in getting parents to come over for an interview but none of them are acceptable to you, try to think of ways you can more carefully screen parents on the phone so you don’t waste as much time with interviews.

Following–up With Contacts …

If you don’t hear back from the parent after sending the note…place a follow-up call.

◾Ask if they received your information.

◾Ask if they have any questions.

◾Ask if they are still looking for care.

◾If not, ask what caused them to choose a different provider.

◾Make note to the reasons; this may help you with the next prospective parent who contacts you.

If the parent says he chose another provider because that program offered more structured learning than yours, you may want to emphasize with the next parent the signs of how children learn under your program.

If the parent has not made a decision about child care when you call, ask if there is any further information you can provide. Offer another brief reminder about your program’s benefits. If you prepare newsletters for your current clients, send a copy to this prospective parent with a final brief note inviting the parent to contact you. No further follow-up is likely to be useful.

Many providers do not currently follow up after phone calls are received. If you start doing so, you are likely to make a positive and memorable impact on parents.

The above information was taken from Tom Copeland’s book, Family Child Care Marketing Guide, which is available through RedLeaf Press.