We hear from our clients all the time that the biggest time suck in their day to day operations is fielding calls and emails from parents about forms, pricing and how to enroll.
And it makes sense this happens. Parents just want to make sure they are crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s. But what if you didn’t have to waste all of this time and had an online process that was straightforward and got the job done right the first time around?
Below are some tips for moving your daycare or child center registration online, and what to look for in a software to get the most out of your investment.
Build an Intelligent Childcare Registration Software, Online!
Not only does paper cost more than an online software (see evidence here), online registration makes it easy on everyone. It’s right on your website, you can quickly send a link to it, and it creates a database for you so you don’t have to waste time on manual entry and deciphering handwriting.
Once you get online, or if you already are, you need to build out your application in a thoughtful and strategic way.
Some quick tips include:
- Asking a question only once. For example, parent email address or emergency contact phone number.
- Creating logic that presents forms only if it’s needed. If you offer a meal program, for instance, asking if they are interested in that add-on. If yes, then present forms and payment necessary for meals and if not, you can skip it.
- Make the process of adding additional children to your application easy and flow well.
I wrote a detailed post all about what to ask in your application, so check that out for some great tips.
One amazing thing about an online solution is the ability to set every parent on their own unique registration path. This is accomplished through conditional logic.
The simplest way to explain this is, asking a Yes/No question and the next question or form that populates is directly related to the answer given. For example, “Does your child have any allergies?” Yes would prompt another question or questions asking for more information. No would just continue on to the next part of the application.
The key here is that when every parent is filling out your forms, they will see that the process adapts to their answers so they don’t have to stress they are missing a form or not completing things correctly.
Hire a professional
Unless you have access to a developer or full time programmer who can build you a custom software, you need to find a registration software.
Here’s a great guide to choosing the right software.
You’ll want to do a demo with each option and explain your pain points and registration process. Then listen closely to understand if they can make your process work with their tools. This is important! Don’t choose a software that will ask you conform to THEM. It’s always the other way around!
Create an individualized process with conditional logic.
I mentioned this above but it’s important to emphasize again.
Sending your parents on their own unique path will ensure higher conversion, more on time payments and less support from you.
When you have a software that includes integrated payments as well, conditional logic will make registering and paying for your care even easier. Based on the selections of the parent – after school, extra programming, additional projects, daily lunch etc will auto caluclate the amount due and present that clearly to the parent.
No more “how much do I owe you?” emails and calls!
This will help cut down on the “noise” of your application and let a parent focus on what is relevant for them.
You can also use conditional logic to present the right products to the right parents. If you offer programming, for example, for a wider agre range of chidlren, you can first ask “how old is your child” and then continue with forms, questions and product selections that match the child’s age.
Dashboard and Presentation
A dashboard for parents to view their progress and application summary is key.
It’s a space to show their personal information, which forms they have completed, payments and balance and what they are signed up for.
Some key dashboard elements include:
- A progress bar to show what is complete and incomplete.
- Payment information including balances and a summary of orders.
- An overview of their schedule or products ordered.
Is an online software worth it?
Having an online system that can enroll children, makes it easy for parents, and gets you paid on time is the ultimate goal. Think about the time you invest in your current process and how you can use that time in a different way. What is that time worth? More or less than a monthly fee for a software?
Here’s a great example of an afterschool program that got value when moving online.
Automating business processes to not only save you time and money, but allow you to redistribute your time in more important areas is always worth it in my book!