5 reasons why families leave a service
5 reasons why families leave a service
The ideal scenario for early childhood providers must surely be the situation where a family signs up their six month old baby and stays in the service until that same child is five and ready to start school. This is great for children as it means continuity of environment and care and creates the sort of routine and stability that pre-schoolers crave and thrive on.
However, as you would be aware, many families choose to leave their early childhood service, and while this is sometimes related to a house relocation or vacancy opening up in a more geographically convenient service, there are other business-related factors which can also weigh into the decision-making process.
Sindye Alexander from Childcare Marketing Solutions, a company which specialises in providing marketing solutions and strategies to the early childhood sector, has compiled a list of the top five reasons why families leave a service, and what providers can do to reduce the attrition rate.
1. Concerns about health, safety or wellbeing of their child
At CareforKids.com.au we know that parents want the absolute best when they are choosing an early childhood service for their child. Although every family may have a slightly different interpretation of what this means there are some universals: great carers, an engaging and interesting environment and adherence to best practice across hygiene and safety standards.
Generally speaking, parents will not compromise on the essential factors by choice, however, they may accept a spot in a less preferred service while they wait for a space in their preferred provider to open up. This means that if a parent has concerns about the standards in a service they will be more open to moving.
Sindye Alexander recommends providers take a detailed look at their service to try and work out how it looks from a family's perspective. Are illnesses being passed around at an abnormally high rate? Is it clean? Does it smell pleasant, or like the nappy bucket? Do you step outside and consider what it looks like from the outside on a regular basis? Do you have a good cleaning and inspection routine? Do your educators look tidy and well dressed? Do the educators conduct themselves in a welcoming and professional manner? Can parents tell that educators truly care for the children? Are there any safety issues - broken toys, jagged corners, unsafe equipment and/or shelving in need of repair? Do educators follow licensing and/or accreditation regulations? Do you notice any other red flags that might concern a parent? Fix them!
Child Care Marketing Solutions suggests that every time a family encounters one of the listed items above, or something else, it chips away at confidence and trust levels and undermines a family’s satisfaction with a service. It's important to try and address every health and safety concern as quickly as possible and hold educators accountable for adhering to best practice.
2. Poor communication and/or customer service
The importance of customer service cannot be overstated in the early childhood setting. Sindye Alexander says parents paying good money to use a service will quickly look for an alternative provider if they are ignored, treated poorly or don't have their concerns heard and addressed.
Ms Alexander makes simple suggestions to support providers to offer better customer service: be available to chat at drop off/pick up, meet with parents when needed, reply to emails and phone calls promptly and offer training in communication and customer service to educators who may need it. She also suggests conducting a survey of families to find out how well you are doing and suggested areas for improvement.
To improve communication, Ms Alexander suggests using an app or a daily note to make sure important and interesting news is communicated to the parents. She suggests sending a monthly newsletter, creating and positing to a closed Facebook Group and or Instagram. Old-fashioned bulletin boards are also a great forum for sharing information, news and photos.
3. Financial issues
If a family is having financial issues, child care is often one of the first things they try to cut from the daily expenses. In some cases, there may be nothing you can do to support a family experiencing financial pressure, however, with a bit of flexibility you may be in a position to offer help.
Offering reduced fees for a short time, or suggesting that you will reduce their days or sessions of care may help. Remember, concessions like this can be on a case-by-case basis and don't need to be promoted to the wider body of parents.
4. Families feel disconnected
Sindye Alexander says that if families feel disconnected to a service and its educators they will quickly move on to a service where they feel a stronger sense of community. On the flipside, if a family does connect to a service, then they will be willing to accept minor inconveniences to continue attending. They may be willing to wear a price increase, drive a little further or donate to a fundraiser.
For parents using early childhood education and care services nothing is more important than trusting the educators responsible for caring for their child every day. The most effective way to build strong and trusting relationships with families is to engage with them.
Encourage educators to have regular conversations with parents and to update them on highlights of the day. Hold events where parents can come in and socialise with educators and other families, call and email parents and be available to respond to their comments and questions.
5. Change in situation
If a family leaves a service due to a change in their situation, such as a relocation or a change in the working situation, there may be nothing you can do to encourage them to stay in your service.
However, you could ask them to write a review of your service before they leave, give them a wonderful send off, potentially with some photographic mementos of the child's time in your service. Bidding families a warm farewell will ensure you leave a lasting impression and make them likely to advocate for your service to other families.
For more about Child Care Marketing, click here.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 03 February 2020
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