The Child Care Business Podcast

Episode 14: Growing and Engaging Your Child Care Waitlist | Mike Hook

September 02, 2021 Procare Solutions
The Child Care Business Podcast
Episode 14: Growing and Engaging Your Child Care Waitlist | Mike Hook
Show Notes Transcript

Mike Hook joins us for this episode of the Child Care Business Podcast. As the VP of Sales for ChildcareCRM, Mike sees first-hand the issues child care owners/directors encounter when connecting with parents and building their enrollments. And he has a lot of great tips on how to tackle those issues. 

In our discussion, Mike covers a variety of strategies and tips, including: 

  • How to go beyond advertising your openings via physical signage
  • How to best capture parent information
  • How to keep parents enticed while they’re on your waitlist through fun, informative and regular communication
  • How automation can help alleviate issues with consistent communication when you’re buried in the other tasks required to run your center
  • The importance of proactivity in nurturing strong parent relationships
  • How to classify families to ensure you’re meeting them at the right point in their buying journey

About Mike:

Mike Hook is the VP of Sales for ChildcareCRM, and his passion is to help grow and empower child care centers seeking to boost their enrollment. He sees firsthand the challenges that centers encounter when looking to grow their businesses, and has a ton of great advice to share. 

You can connect with Mike by visiting his website: https://www.childcarecrm.com/ or by emailing him at [email protected].  

Additional Resources:
For more tips from ChildcareCRM on waitlist management, visit https://bit.ly/3BhjSov

To get more insights on ways to succeed in your child care business, head over to our Resource Center at https://www.procaresoftware.com/resource-center/.

Contact Us:
Have an idea for a podcast or want to be a guest? Email us at [email protected].   

 

Speaker 1 (00:08):

[inaudible] welcome to the childcare business podcast brought to you by ProCare solutions. This podcast is all about giving childcare, preschool, daycare, afterschool, and other early education professionals, a fun and upbeat way to learn about strategies and inspiration you can use to thrive. You'll hear from a variety of childcare thought leaders, including educators, owners, and industry experts on ways to innovate, to meet the needs of the children you serve from practical tips for managing operations, to uplifting stories of transformation and triumph. This podcast will be chalk full and insights. You can use to fully realize the potential of your childcare business. Let's jump in

Speaker 2 (00:53):

Good morning, everybody. And, uh, you know, again, if you've listened to our podcast before you know that this is the childcare business podcast, my name is Ryan Gwaltney and excited to have you guys join us today. Uh, today I'm going to be meeting with, uh, I'll call him a friend of mine. You know, we've, we've done this a few times. Now. This is I'm talking with Mike hook. Who's the vice president of sales for childcare CR CRM. I'm sure many of you in our audience are familiar with childcare CRM, and for good reason, they provide the kind of technology that helps childcare businesses do all the things they need to do to reach prospective families and get them to sign up. In fact, ProCare has worked with childcare CRM for many years. So this is not our first conversation. Um, look, Mike's passion. I'll let him share a little bit of this, but it's really to help and help customers, childcare customers grow and empower their childcare centered businesses seeking to help them boost their enrollment. He sees firsthand the challenges that centers, uh, encounter when looking to grow their businesses. And he has a ton of great advice that he can share. So, um, we're excited to have him here, Mike, welcome to the show.

Speaker 3 (01:59):

Yeah. Hey Ryan, I appreciate it. Thanks for having me and really excited to be here. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (02:03):

It's going to be, we were talking a little bit before we came on air. Uh, we ha I have a little like script. We always try to like talk through some things that we can go over on the show Francy and our marketing department does a great job of doing that. And sometimes we stay on script, sometimes we do not. So we'll kind of see how today goes. Okay. Um, Mike, before we jump in, I obviously I want to talk about some of the things that are specific to our industry, things that both you and I and our companies, uh, are focused on, but would love to learn a little bit about you first. Uh, you know, I was actually, before we got on, there was research and little bit, I saw your university of Arizona guy. Are you originally from Arizona? Is that home or where are you from?

Speaker 3 (02:46):

Bear down? Yeah, I'm a big wild cat and Cleveland, Ohio is home for me. So I grew up in Ohio, in the Midwest and after high school, it was time to get out. So I wanted to fly, get out of my comfort zone a little bit in Arizona was a great school sunshine, uh, which was a far cry from the cold winters down in Cleveland. And couldn't have picked a better place.

Speaker 2 (03:14):

Yeah. It's funny. I have a couple guys on my team that are Cleveland guys, and that's what I was going to say. I can see the draw of Tucson if you're from Cleveland, Sunshine's 360 days a year or so. Right. You get the warm sun all winter long. I bet that was a nice reprieve. And you were there all four years in Tucson, is that right?

Speaker 3 (03:33):

Yeah. So I was there in four years, which is, you know, take it how it is, but getting done in four years and everything, it was, it was a fun school. I stayed there during the winters too. Cause it was just so beautiful that time of year. Yeah. I was in no hurry to get back to the polar vortex in the Midwest.

Speaker 2 (03:50):

Yeah. I bet. Now you're like, let me check the weather back home. Okay. It's 35 and freezing, or it's going to be 75 and Tucson today. I'll just stick around here. Did university of Arizona, did they try to remember that era? Did they have basketball teams? I know that's kind of their, their wheelhouse men's basketball. Did they have a crew while you were there? That was a successful or was that one of their down periods

Speaker 3 (04:14):

They did. And I, I will have to tell you knowing that those basketball games, the McKale center, there is not many environments like it. I mean, it was, it was rowdy, it was passionate. It was loud. That arena filled up click. So we were there during the years. Uh, I forget it was my junior year when we beat duke in the elite eight or the sweet 16 and then got knocked out late in the tournament and uh, chase bud measure and Derek Williams. And uh, so I was there. Yeah. With, uh, with a bunch of good guys, Solomon hill was on the team and it was a fun time to be at school there. So base basketball team, always good softball team was good too. I did not go to any of the softball games. I know they were good. That was our squad. All

Speaker 2 (05:01):

Right. All right. So that's good. So I remember that, I remember that era. And you said, because this was another question I want to ask you. You said when we were in Tucson. So when you say we, is this your brother too, like, cause I want to talk a little bit because you guys have tracked along together a little bit, I believe, but remind me your brother's name. And when you say we is, was he in Tucson with you too? Are you guys the same age? I can't remember.

Speaker 3 (05:24):

Yeah. So, so he's two years younger than me. He was in, in Tucson as well. I think I didn't even catch myself saying we, you did. So maybe that's just him and I have run together for so long that it just popped out. But no, yeah. Great call him and I were there together. Okay.

Speaker 2 (05:40):

Sweet. And then, all right. Maybe last questions for quasi sports-related. So you're from Cleveland. I was literally in a, in a meeting with my team yesterday, stand up, I've got a couple guys that are huge Cleveland Browns fans. Cause they're, from there, they promise that they're not on the bandwagon because they're getting a lot of positive publicity that they've been through all the rough years. Are you a Browns fan coming from Cleveland? And if so, are you, are you bullish on how the team's looking this year?

Speaker 3 (06:10):

So I am a brown fan. I'm a all Cleveland sports fan. We can get into some of those stories later, but I'm very proud to say that for the first year ever, I'm not a delusional brown span. I'm not going into season. Like we're going to do great this year. And then week one, we lose by 40 points and I've got to walk all that back this year. It's, uh, I'm proud to say you can drop the delusional part and it's just full fandom. So I'm really excited for the season and kick it off with Kansas city. It's going to be a big one for us

Speaker 2 (06:43):

On the road too. That's what that's where you're saying that they go down there and they get a win. I don't know how much of our audience will care about Cleveland Browns, but you and I obviously care a little bit about it. So it's fun to talk about. Uh, they go down to Kansas city week, one Kansas city for a lot of people, super bowl favorites. So they go down there and get a w then the hype machine is going to even accelerate. It's just going to be part of the deal. Here we

Speaker 3 (07:03):

Go. Brown, are you ready for all the baker may feel pressed coming winter loose. It's coming.

Speaker 2 (07:11):

Talk to me a little bit about, uh, like I, I want to talk about childcare CRM. I want to talk about some of the things that you know, that you are seeing right now in the industry, but can you walk me through and just our audience through like your path to where you are today? Because I was looking at some of your career history, obviously background in sales and helping companies grow revenue, but talk just a little bit about, you know, the professional career path that got you to your role you're in now.

Speaker 3 (07:38):

Yeah. So I guess it all starts off back 18 years old selling Cutco door to door. Um, nice sales is as many people who are in sales know that, but you know, after college, I was really fortunate to get into software and get into software sales and really being able to bring software to industries that haven't adopted it in full yet. And that's where I started initially. It was with getting payments into the property management industry for rent and for HOA dues, which was not common at the time when I started there. So now you would never think about running an apartment, but back then it was really novel. And so through that path, um, really grew the market grew, the adoption grew, the business came up through the company and it was wonderful to see and have a hand in that for not only well, how are we bringing technology out, but how are we structuring a company so that it's giving our customers the most support, the most value from the first time they engage as a brand all the way up until, you know, the, the long of a client of ours and, you know, that's really appealing.

Speaker 3 (08:59):

And that was appealing to me and that growth and really building that environment and building that out was appealing. And so when I was getting ready to make my next move, that was something that I looked for. And it's something that I found in the childcare space. It is, you know, a really wonderful industry that initially I didn't know much about, but when you get a group of people who are so altruism, right, they look out for their community, they look out for the children and the development of those children. They want to make sure that they're being a resource in, know what is shaping the future without being too cliche about it and what a great group of people to want to work with. And it is an industry that has started to adopt technology. But when you look at the broad scope of all of the centers out there from the big organizations down to, you know, the at-home daycare is the mom and pop centers that are owned just by people with no other desire than to help the community. You know, that's an area where technology can really help and not only the technology that childcare CRM can bring, but seeing a lot of those changes that I've seen within a business and help bring those to those organizations as well. So that's, uh, yeah, that's kind of the path that I took and what got me here to childcare and why the industry has been so fulfilling for me, uh, coming in.

Speaker 2 (10:27):

Yeah. I mean, I think you hit the nail on the head for those of us that have been in the industry or people that are familiar with the industry. I think, you know, one of the, obviously the draws for a lot of people that, you know, make their home in our industry and kind of interact with our customers is just that community. Like it's such a, an industry where everybody helps each other out. Obviously I think it's, you know, you can argue really strongly. It's very meaningful work. Like you said, I don't, I don't know if that's overly played because you know, our customers, our shared customers are, you know, obviously impacting the next generation coming alongside families and their community. And so I think when people look at the industry, as far as, you know, what you're being a part of, um, it's extremely rewarding is that when you looked at the industry initially, obviously coming from like the rental industry and how you saw software and technology impact, that that was one of the draws for you is just looking at the injuries industry and realizing like, Hey, it's meaningful work, but there's still a tremendous amount of upside in terms of how we can go and enable providers to do what they do more effectively.

Speaker 2 (11:28):

That was kind of one of the big things that drew me to the industry.

Speaker 3 (11:32):

Yeah, absolutely. And I'm a big believer that technology is something that can empower people so much to help them in their job. If we forget all the little things that we do in a given day, because it becomes routine to us where it's so simple, you know, and there's all these different examples. I know we'll get into, you know, some specifics later. So I won't too deep now, but you know, if you think about it, like what are we doing on a consistent basis? It's kind of that, that concept of what you're driving to work well, when we used to all drive to work, you didn't even realize a to B you would just get there, you know, is there a better way to do things? Is there, you know, a different route that we can take, and that's what technology is a lot like when you come into an industry that has it really matured and seen it across, across the board, you know, people and organizations are doing things in a routine consistent manner and all of a sudden it's how do we help them do it in a better way so that they can broaden that scope?

Speaker 2 (12:34):

Yeah. Love that. In particular, for, for some of the things that you guys do, Mike, and some of the conversations that you have with clients, like just talking about some of those specifics, when it comes to how schools are managing things like waiting lists and marketing to new families in their community. I know these are things that you guys are really passionate about and it's challenges that a lot of providers have in terms of manage that. Can you, can you touch on a couple of those things that you guys, when you're talking with a customer and maybe you can use a case study or we can run through some scenarios, but I'm just curious, like, what are the types of things that, that would trigger a childcare owner or a preschool owner to need software, to help them with the things that childcare CRM does. Can you talk about some of those pain points that you guys solve for?

Speaker 3 (13:25):

Yeah. And I think a lot of it goes back to just the shift in the way that parents are looking for care and buying it. So if you want to just start right from the beginning, parents are now reaching out some more centers than they ever have before. And there are more children in the area that need care, right? We're growing as a country, we need more and people rely on this quick communication and they always want to know what's in the know we've become because there's so many mediums out there. Whether we read the information that we get or not, we've become addicted in a way to just getting it. So what do you think about not only from the first time that a family engages, but then getting back to that wait list and getting there it's parents expect things differently now. So you can't use this old method where it's like, oh, well, I'll just put a sign out front and parents will walk in, you know, which was great for awhile, but now it's like, I need to make sure that I've got my website.

Speaker 3 (14:27):

And then once I capture information, I need to make sure that I'm responding back to those parents instantly because that parent being a smarter buyer, because they buy everything online and they researched online is probably looking at all the centers in my area. So how am I differentiating myself? Well, great. I'm responding quickly. But then what type of information am I giving about what it's like to raise a child milestones in care at that point in time? How are we engaging in terms of making sure that we're giving this, uh, experience that says it's classroom specific? So here's one that I really like, let's say, you've got a family, you enroll them and they become on your wait list for your three-year-old classroom. Well, there's a chance that that family might go elsewhere. Are they really going to wait for that seat to open up?

Speaker 3 (15:22):

Are they really going to wait for the four year old classroom? Traditionally, this waitlist was a holding tank. It just sat there where it's like, oh, you're on my wait list. Let's just fill it up. And if the first person's gone, we'll just recycle. Go to the second person recycled, go to the third person. Well, now everything's more competitive. So being able to delight parents that are on that wait list by sending them updates on what's happening in the classroom, you know, Hey, Mr. Hook went out and he did a great thing in the classroom today, XYZ. Here's what he did. And here's how the children responded. Well, now that person who's on that waitlist is thinking, oh my God, I want my child here. Even more look at what this group is doing. And it's not about sending all of this information out all the time.

Speaker 3 (16:15):

It's also about being able to use automation to help that happen, right? So busy every day, teachers, Senator directors, owners, it's, you cannot do this manually and expect to keep up with everything. And that's where, to our conversation earlier, Ryan, the technology to help these businesses really engage with their communities in a more meaningful manner comes into play. So it's specific information and it's digestible and it's keeping those parents engaged again, whether it's a waitlist or that first time they reach out the information is different that you want to send, but it's still coming quick and it's still relevant.

Speaker 2 (16:59):

It's interesting because I think, you know, a lot of the technology that you're referring to, you know, if I play that back a little bit, if I, if I can kind of say it in a way that I think I heard you describe it, it's like historically, if you're a childcare owner, you were really reacting when things would change in your school, meaning families would contact you. You didn't have a space available at the time for the age that they were looking for in the classroom. So you took their information, they entered a list and then they would just kind of sit there dormant until you actually had an opening. And so now you just had a family give you notice that they're leaving the area. So you have an opening in your three-year-old room. You go back to that list that maybe you haven't looked at in six months and you just start to call down that list.

Speaker 2 (17:40):

Right. And then what, what would happen is centers would realize like now I have a gap in my enrollment because that family left. And I, none of those families that were looking six months ago are still looking for that classroom. And so now I kind of have a gap in my revenue because I have a space available and I'm just waiting for somebody new to call. And I think what you were saying is kind of the, the thought processes, leverage technology to think about that a little differently. Now, if that family contacts you and you don't have a spot, stay in touch with them, like nurture that relationship, keep them educated on your center because then you're going to have engagement. And when that opening happens, you're going to have a pool of interested, connected people to go reach out to and fill that spot. Is that fair? Fair way to describe it.

Speaker 3 (18:28):

Yeah, it's really fair. And just to break it down, if we want to look at it and put it into buckets, reactive versus proactive. So are you going to be reactive to that situation and in paper waiting for a spot to open up, hoping that you have all of the information you need to actually follow up. And I just write down their name in scribble and can't even remember their phone number anymore. Yes, yes. For sure. All I have or am I being proactive? And as you said, nurturing the person on that wait list. And by the way, there's some things that happen here to word of mouth, right? Like if I'm on a wait list, but my friend's having a child or my friend's got a one-year-old and you delight me and they're like, oh, I'm looking for care. Well, guess what my child might not be in. Cause they don't fit, but you better believe if you've given me a bunch of information and I'm dying to put my kid in, I'm telling my friend to put theirs into

Speaker 2 (19:33):

Yeah, I'm going to share that information. And then it spreads. And so when you guys have you seen like over the past year and a half, Mike, I'm curious because I think every industry has been impacted by changes over the past year and a half. I mean, we've seen changes to, you know, demand for childcare. I think we've seen a lot of communities now where some of those childcare deserts where there's literally not enough spaces for kids in the community and parents are having a harder time finding care in some places, some parts of the country. Like what have you guys seen just in terms of trends, as you're talking with your customers and around this conversation about managing wait lists and filling in enrollment, had there been any distinct changes that you guys have identified? Has it changed your conversations at all with customers as you've kind of worked through this the past year and a half?

Speaker 3 (20:24):

Uh, the short answer is yes, definitely has changed, but not in such a drastic way that like the operations of things change. It's not changing in a way as, oh, how we view things in the value of things has changed. What's what's happening is it's the unpredictability of parents markets in classrooms. So, you know, when you think about it, let's rewind a year and a half it's okay. Okay. Everybody's coming in. They want to go in, we know parents want care, they want care. They're going to find a spot. They're going to get on the wait list. There's nothing uncertain about this. Like I've made my decision to go to care and there's nothing that you can do to stop me. And oh, by the way, there's enough staff in the workplace that we can go open another center, we can acquire more businesses we can grow.

Speaker 3 (21:15):

Whereas now we're seeing, seeing the shift in, we need to make sure that we're managing the resources that we have and that we're always ready. And when I say we, I mean, we, as an industry, we as the childcare industry right now, we as childcare CRM. So it becomes how many teachers do I have available? What classrooms do I have? How can I support my community? Meanwhile, you've got parents. Some are who, yes, let's put our child in. Let's take our child out. You know, as we get more and more vaccinated as a country, you're seeing that hesitation less, more and more so, whereas before it was a lot of, do parents want to go or not? We're seeing some of that hesitation. And I think the other thing we saw too, is when people first started to work from home, the inclination was I'm going to work from home.

Speaker 3 (22:07):

I'm going to save money. I'm going to keep my child at home. People are realizing just how difficult that is to manage a family, being an educator, working from home. So we're still now seeing these work from home parents, they're starting to seek care again. So now you've got this influx that's happening. So it's, how are we capturing information? And then again, classifying these families, where are they at in their decision-making? What is their relationship with us both present and historically, and potentially future. So again, we can go back to that meaningful engagement with them, making them feel safe, let me do our center. And then also having the foresight to know, Hey, I've got a wait list. It's bubbling up here. Let me go find a teacher, which admittedly is hard to do right now. But let me go, why to teach her and put my resources there so I can open this classroom.

Speaker 3 (22:58):

So it might not be opening a new building and that might still be there, but, and now more so than ever, it's let me get this classroom back open, let me get back to profitability. And then because again, and these big dynamic shifts in our environment have happened. People want to go contactless and people are moving from major cities, either out to the suburbs or just leaving the state already. So if I'm a childcare center, how am I expanding my reach outside of my traditional area? And it can be things like, how am I meeting my parents online with, you know, digital enrollment options so that we can do that and secure that enrollment before they even move here. So I think what we're seeing now is because there's so much change because at the drop of a hat, somebody can be moving to a whole new area. Childcare centers have to be better equipped to meet parents in the multiple different avenues that they're at and really make sure that they're securing these registrations and these enrollment as fast as possible. Yeah. That's an

Speaker 2 (24:05):

Interesting, that's an interesting topic because you're right. Like, as you've seen, like population kind of, you know, shift and people are moving. If, if you're a provider in your local area that is only reaching the local families that are there, because they may be physically have to come to your school to be able to learn information, you might be missing out on some of those people that are, you know, prospectively looking to move to your area and are starting to try to, you know, put feelers out and learn about schools in the community and to the degree that you can meet them there. I think what you're saying is you just set yourself up and put yourself in a position as a school to have a better chance at, you know, earning some of those enrollments and meeting those families who have needs. Is the conversation different for you guys?

Speaker 2 (24:46):

Like when you talk with a center who, you know, may be as full, like, Hey, all of our play spaces are full. Like all of our classrooms are full. We don't have any available spaces right now versus a center that says, you know, look, we're at 50% capacity. And trying to grow is, is from a technology standpoint and how you guys engage with those customers. Can you explain like the two different ways that you talk about your product or your technology to those two different buckets, like what's different and how can we help them or how can you help each of those centers in that situation?

Speaker 3 (25:22):

So this is a really good question because while there are similarities, there are some really big differences because if someone's at 50% capacity, their number one goal is how do I get from 50 to a hundred? So the conversation becomes an, it turns a lot more into how do we bridge that gap? So is it your Tor conversion might not be where it needs to be? Is it, are you not getting enough leads in? And again, this goes back to even little items that make a big impact. Like how are you allowing parents to communicate with you online, you know, close to 60% of all inquiries come from online sources. So if you're not set up to engage that way. All right. So there's that you're,

Speaker 2 (26:10):

You're missing a big chunk already, right?

Speaker 3 (26:13):

Okay. Missing a huge jump and phone calls, by the way, for the record phone calls have gone down year, over year, as far as that being a way that people reach out. So we're seeing this shift. So is it okay, so you're at 50%, you want to get to a hundred percent, how are you talking about digitizing the parent journey to meet millennials where they're at and how are you engaging with them when they're there? So it becomes a lot around those topics. So are you using text messages? Are you using automation so that something doesn't fall through the crack when you're so busy, Mr. Or Mrs. Center director, sometimes you're playing cook or janitor and you can't drop the ball on anything, but you have to fill this bucket. So how are we getting there? And so I think that's the big one, right?

Speaker 3 (27:05):

Digitize. The parent journey are all these key touch points with the parents. The first time they engage with the website, the poor reminder, self scheduling options, the communication, the educational material. Maybe it's a video testimonial want to send out from a current parent, like how are you using your process, your way that you engage with a parent to differentiate yourself and how can child care CRM and the tools and features. We have automation, communication, lead capture help you pair with parents to increase the likelihood that you make those enrollments. If a center is totally full

Speaker 2 (27:45):

Bucket one, so you're not full and you're trying to drive enrollment and your focus is growth, but the other bucket is you're full and trying to manage people that are interested. And when you're going to have available spots, what does that conversation entail? How is that different?

Speaker 3 (28:01):

Yeah. So that, conversation's a lot about setting yourself up for lifelong success. It's really hard to get your center full. It's really hard to do that. And now that you're there, this is the time to really reinforce good behaviors with your center. How did you get 100% full? What were you doing well, are you the only center in the area? Is it that you have a program that somebody doesn't have? Like, what is your secret sauce? That's helped you get there. Okay, great. Now that we know that, how are you managing your waitlist? Is it siblings, right? Are you prioritizing by siblings? Are you to that point that we talked about earlier? Are you making sure that people on your wait list, stay on your wait list? How are you sending them all the great things you're doing? Because it's that flywheel it's self-fulfilling if you treat your waitlist, well, they're going to turn into enrollments.

Speaker 3 (29:06):

Well, if they don't turn into enrollments, they're going to tell their friend about it. And if they tell their friend about it and their friend enrolls, whether their friends are going to tell their friends. And so it's, how are we managing all these different areas? The other thing with that too, is how are you making sure that you're planning for the future? So if I sit down and I say, okay, I've got my three-year-old classrooms full, I've got a wait list for it. And I see that there are some children here that could fit right in this four year old, maybe they're right on the fringe of a three and four year old classroom. And you can offer to get them in a little bit younger, you know? Right, right. On that age gap, maybe it's something as simple as well. I know that this three-year-old classrooms good.

Speaker 3 (29:55):

That's great. But this other one doesn't have a wait list. So I know now my marketing dollars need to be spent on my two year old and my four-year-old classrooms. So it's about engaging. When you have this waitlist, giving yourself insight into where you need to in the future, allocate your money, allocate your resources in time. But remember, you've done a great job, getting your center full. Don't, drop the ball on what got it there, because that's the number one mistake that we see from customers that have a waitlist and then lose that waitlist. They think, oh great, I'm full on set. I don't need to still take care and have that great buying process for parents upfront. Because even if you can't get them in right now, you need to make sure that they want to get in. And so it's, uh, it's much more like pro-act like proactive. We need to drive enrollments. Let's get it in. When you're 50% for the waitlist its future success. Let's never drop the ball. And by the way, some of our owners, you know, they are happy with one center. This is what they want. This is their career. They're good. Others want to grow. So now it's about seeing your waitlist, knowing what classrooms are on a waitlist, what programs are working and using that information to start building the classrooms for a second center, a third center of four center and so on and so forth. Yeah, it's

Speaker 2 (31:19):

Really, it's a really good point because I think that the types of things that providers are looking at or should be looking at in terms of do I need this type of technology are like the things like we're not converting our tours, like right. We have a lot of families coming through our school, but for some reason we're not seeing those turn into enrollments or we have a waiting list, but every time we have an opening, we can't fill that room or that space right away. And so there's, there's certain things like symptoms that centers would be having that would lead them to go and research. Like, is there something that can help me with that? Are there other examples that come to mind for you of like a business pain point that would lead somebody to start searching for the type of technology you guys offer? Other than what I mentioned?

Speaker 3 (32:10):

Yeah. So I think, you know, another big one that we see always is, you know, I don't think we talk on the data enough. So, you know, we talk about conversion percentages, but a lot of companies are sitting out there and they're like, I don't know where my money's going. I don't know how I'm converting. So, you know, right there, just having the, the foresight to say, I don't know what's happening in my business. I think we're doing okay. But I don't know. So we'd like all of these I thinks, I think, I think needing them to have some clarity and some certainty would certainly be one of them. I think the other one too, is this desire to move away from paper. And again, this is like, it's very comfortable, right? Like you grade papers with pen, you become an assistant director, you know, you've got, all of your notes are in pen.

Speaker 3 (33:06):

There are sticky notes about things are everywhere. So it's this just my time is so valuable. I need to find a way to get organized. Right. So it's being able to come from there. And that goes into the enrollment packets too. Like there's a lot of state forms. There are a lot of, you know, forms for parents. So I think when you look at getting away from pen and paper and getting time back and savings there, it's not just about, oh, I want to do this for the enrollment. It's like, I want to get rid of everything. And I will tell you COVID I think has certainly accelerated that. And I know, you know, even on, on your guys's end, right? Like with the pickup and drop off differences, some of the billing stuff that's happening with your platform. And I'm sure you've seen that out there. These trends are not going away. And I think we see that a lot as well as, as far as people reaching out and they're like, we, we can't do it this way anymore. Yeah. We have

Speaker 2 (34:04):

To make a change. We have to make some improvements. You're exactly right. I think that is one of the things that, you know, it has brought awareness in our industry around to your point. A lot of states went contactless drop off and pick up. It's like, we didn't have that in place before we were using manual attendance sheets. We have to go find a solution now to solve for that. And that's kind of brought some of the technologies that, you know, obviously we represent in the industry as well, um, to the forefront, to some schools that may be weren't at that point prior to it. Um, and I think you brought up a really good point to it. You know, when, when individual business owners are looking at technology, a big part of that conversation is how do I know if this technology is paying for itself?

Speaker 2 (34:46):

Like, how do I know if I invest money every month in this technology and the software that I'm getting my money out of it? I think, you know, when listening to you talk about, uh, you know, the concept of enrollments, it's a pretty easy return on investment. If we can help you get one enrollment a year or two enrollments a year, whatever that number is, you can start to do the math, like, Hey, the investment paid for itself is that kind of, you know, when we talk about value proposition and how you deliver, you know, this is how our technology is designed to pay for itself. Is that a pretty common conversation point with your customers?

Speaker 3 (35:21):

Absolutely. And that there's like the hard value, what I call and that's your financial stuff. So you nailed it perfectly. What is, what enrollment work to me and what is childcare? CRM costs. One enrollment pays for multiple times over, right. But then there's the process, right? There's like those process costs. So talk about managing that waitlist, going back to that, how much time are you spending as a center director or as an owner, keeping that waitlist up to date, making sure that the classrooms and the ages are up to date. If you're using another platform like a constant contact or a MailChimp, how much list management are you doing and are you doing the work to keep that? Up-to-date always, when you do things like that, where does it take away from? Because anytime you put energy somewhere, it's going to take away from something else.

Speaker 3 (36:22):

So did you drop the ball on a new curriculum program because you were managing a waitlist and what did that cost you? So, so there's that kind of preventative, there's the process costs. And then again, you know, the one thing, um, that we always talk about too, and that I love to talk about our industry loves the community. So if you're busy coming in on a Saturday, if you're working till 9:00 PM at night, because everything's really manual, what's the cost to you, what's the cost to your lifestyle. And I'll tell you, I was talking to someone the other day and I asked them a question and I just, we were talking about CRM and how it could help and what's going on at their center. And without divulging too much, I asked them how it was affecting them in their personal life and what they'd like to do. And her answer was, I would just love to go canoeing with my fiance on Saturday simple

Speaker 2 (37:20):

Requests. Yeah. I just, the simple things in life, but I can't, because I've got so much going on and so much time that it takes to, to kind of run the business. Right.

Speaker 3 (37:29):

Yeah. And so that's, you know, that's, you hear things like that and that's where, yeah. You talk about the value of the enrollment. There's no doubt behind it, hard costs, but there are so many other underlying things that we, again, sometimes just don't think about, but I guess that's kind of where we come in.

Speaker 2 (37:48):

Yeah. That's a great point. I mean, it is so true. It goes back to what you said earlier, too. I think, you know, that kind of concept or philosophy of like, I'm going to really be proactive on this. I'm going to let technology really automate and streamline everything possible in my business. So that the time and energy that I spend and that I pay my staff to spend is really directed at things that are gonna help us grow our business, improve our brand, the quality of our product and service. And then that whole cycle drives, you know, growth, profitability, all the things that business owners are looking for. Right. Um, what about last question, just around some of the mechanics of how you guys interact with customers? What about like customer support? I know there's the process of, alright, we're a technology. We can help show you how we can drive results for your business. What does that look like from a, like a support experience, if I'm using your technology, does somebody train me on it? Does somebody help me set it up? Do I get help on an ongoing basis? What does that look like for you guys? Because it's a big topic for us too.

Speaker 3 (38:52):

So we brought up my brother a little bit earlier. Um, yeah. Yeah. We'll get into

Speaker 2 (38:55):

The family. Now we're going to get into the family. Now, here we

Speaker 3 (38:58):

Go. That's right. That's right. So my brother is our VP of customer operations and what we believe as a company here, our CEO, Matt came from a customer operations background, uh, at what we believe here is really what we would like to call a three pronged approach to customer support. So you sign up with child care CRM and right away you're introduced and start working with a professional services representative, this person's job. And they specialize in are an expert in getting your databases in your accounts, set up, making sure that all of our automation and our workflows are built the right way, getting the enrollment packets fine tuned for your specifications, and then doing a training with the owner, the staff, whoever the user is. Right? So whether you're a 500,000 unit organization that has, you know, a two month rollout and 50 trainings and all these different things, you know, we're going to support you in that, or whether you're a single center, just wanting to get set up same training.

Speaker 3 (40:12):

So the scope of work is different by the size of the customer. Certainly there's different complexities and scope, but the training remains the same, right? We want to make sure that day one, you understand how to use this product, what it means and how your day to day will be with it. Right? We want that adoption to stay professional services, really big focus for us. After that we've got customer success. What we call our customer success advocates. This group is a pro active account rep for our customers. So our customers get a rep. Their responsibility is to help drive the strategy and function like a true partner with our customers. Do you have all the right features set up? How are your centers performing versus industry benchmarks? Where do we think and have identified that you might be able to do better? Where are you doing really good?

Speaker 3 (41:08):

And these are, yes, we're going to come to our customers proactively with this information, but then it's all about turning it into a conversation about what are your hopes, what are your dreams? How can we help you assist in that? So it's about taking, yes, here's all the information that's having today. And then using that to inform how you move forward and achieve those goals. Long-term and that's why we always getting, going with childcare CRM. This is a partnership we're here and we're in it with you. And then bucket number three, this is our reactive support. So our phone support are in system in platform chat that we have. These are all people, part of our company right here, uh, that will be there to answer questions of our customers as they come up in real time. Now through our experience and everything, we have a knowledge hub and a knowledge center.

Speaker 3 (42:01):

So we have some self-serve options available. We also recently launched our community of practice. So we started a group for all of our childcare, CRM customers to come together and be able to share best practices as well. So that's something that we facilitate. Um, Lisa Henkel, our VP of, uh, training and education she helps facilitate and is in that group. And then of course, you know, we, uh, we talk about marketing a lot on a new acquisition side, but our marketing team here is always reaching out to our customers too. And we have any different relevant releases or updates that we feel our customers should know about. So it's, we've invested heavily in making sure that our customers are supported, uh, because we believe it's the right way to go. And it's, it's been wonderful to see the reception there. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (42:52):

That's a, that's awesome. I mean, it's, it's, it's, it's always fun for us to talk with other technology companies and partners and people that are in the industry, because look, there's, there's amazing, amazing people, amazing technologies, amazing companies that are really out. Like you've been saying this, you know, this whole session of, you know, just really trying to partner with childcare owners. It's, it's an amazing industry of people. We get to work with great community. Um, and if, if we can deliver better results for our customers, they get to deliver better results for their customers, which are the families and kids in their community and, and everybody wins. So it's good stuff. Um, last question, cause I know we're running out of time, but this should, like, I saw this is not business related, but I happen to see when I was kind of just looking through a few things before we got on the air, like you were on a, you're a podcast guy. So you're like a veteran like podcast, like a professional, but I saw one, like you were eating like a pepper or something. Like I gotta get, I, I need to know this story because it looked painful. What did I see that? Right? Did you, were you forced to eat like something extremely hot? What was the story behind that?

Speaker 3 (44:04):

Oh, memories. All right. So, um, I am not good with spicy food. Like let me lead in. So for whatever reason, I agreed to go on this podcast as there's, there's a company, not in our space at all by the name of Dooley and their VP of marketing is a friend of mine, mark John great guy. And he decided to do series for his company where they'd come on, they'd bring sales and marketing leaders together. And they would interview them while they ate hot wings, as a way to, I guess, spice things up. Well, they sent me the hot sauce and the hot sauce they sent me was called the bomb. And it's like 150 or 200,000 Scoville rankings.

Speaker 2 (44:57):

And is it was the world like you can't taste it before you get on the air. You just have to wait. And it's like a big surprise type of thing.

Speaker 3 (45:04):

I didn't want to taste it. Like I had it ahead of time, but I was like, if I try this, I'm probably going to back out. So I just got to go on camera where there's no escape once I'm there. And six wings with that hot sauce on it. Obviously, you know, if you watch it through just, just skip to the end, if you want to really laugh. Cause that's where I'm like full in pain, the lips, I can't feel anything tears are running down. Uh, it was looking back on it really funny in the moment now I stood up, like I was pretty sure that I was going to faint at one point

Speaker 2 (45:47):

It was that hot medical emergency. All right. So we might need to come up with some little, I like fun, little stick Francy. We might, um, you know, from here, Mike has been obviously a lot of fun having you on the show. I know we get to interact, uh, you know, off air as well, but you guys do a great job. Appreciate you sharing your expertise and uh, look forward next time we can chat.

Speaker 3 (46:11):

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks again for having me on here and great partnering with ProCare and you guys and your crew and looking forward to keeping doing it. Sounds good. Mike, take care, man.

Speaker 1 (46:22):

Thank you for listening to this episode of the childcare business podcast, to get more insights on ways to succeed in your childcare business, make sure to hit subscribe in your podcast app. So you never miss an episode. And if you want even more childcare business tips, tricks and strategies, head over to our resource [email protected] until next time.