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Practical Ways to Promote Your Program

Dear Debi,
As a child care provider who has worked mostly off referrals, how can I find a cost-effective method to reach my prospective clientele without digging a monetary hole?
Scott, Los Angeles, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Use your local R&R, but not exclusively
  • Constantly advertise
  • Connect with parents to keep communication going
Expert Advice
Raquel Villegas
Raquel Villegas
Community Outreach Liaison, San Fernando Child Care Resource Center
Providers can promote their child care program in three main ways: by using their local Resource and Referral (R&R) agency; through word-of-mouth; and finally, by advertising.

A provider should contact their local R&R to let them know about their business. R&Rís will need to see a copy of your license or your facility profile. You will need to fax or mail a copy to their office. Make sure you include your phone number so an R&R representative can call you. The R&R will include your listing in their database at no cost to you.

Providers shouldnít rely solely on R&Rís for their business. Providers need to take the initiative to get the word out. Word-of-mouth really works in the child care business. Providers should tell anybody and everybody they know about what their availability to do child care. Providers should constantly be connecting with parents to keep communication going. If parents like you, they are more likely to recommend you to other parents. Even if youíre full, start a waiting list. Sometimes itís good if a parent hears that there is a waiting list. They like to hear that youíre wanted. This way, if someone drops out suddenly, youíll have new clients on standby.

Providers can also enroll new clients by advertising. A provider should include their name, phone number and license number on their business cards and fliers. By law in the state of California, providers must include their license number on everything they print. The only thing their license number connects someone to is Community Care Licensing, which doesnít provide personal information. To protect your privacy, however, donít include your complete address on a card because potential clients may show up at unusual hours.

Providers should also get to know their own community and the resources available there. Your local schools can be a good way to publicize your availability. Ask the principal if you can leave information in a parent resource room. Local pediatricians and dentists also might have places to post fliers and business cards. Also remember to check with your local chamber of commerce and churches who might have festivals and fairs.
Child Care provider Comments
Karolina Ramirez
Karolina Ramirez
Child care provider for 6 years
I created a business card that I carry with me so I can pass out to potential clients in stores, in the market, and when picking kids up from school. I also use fliers, they allow you to give a lot more information about yourself and your program. You can place them on cars where you see they have a car seat. You can also create a sign to attach to your vehicle. Finally, the best promotion is a sign or banner right outside your house.
Family child care provider for 4 years
Word-of-mouth is always the best way. Another good method is to place an ad in the school paper. It not only helps you, but also benefits the school. There are always parents looking and itís a good way to reach them. Itís important to mention in your advertisements that you, yourself, are a parent. I think that really resonates with other parents.

Because I shop frequently at consignment stores, I have built a relationship with the owners. If you can find a consignment store that re-sells childrenís clothes, the owners will often pass your info on to parents looking to buy kids things. I get a lot of business that way. Itís free advertising and itís word-of-mouth.
Child care provider for 10 years
Most of the kids that Iíve had in the past five years have been through referrals Ė word-of-mouth from other parents. Iíve been doing this for over 10 years. In the beginning, I pounded the pavement Ė handing out business cards and putting up flyers. If I went to a birthday party, Iíd put my business card in the grab bag.

Now I have magnets on the sides of my car. I was driving down the street recently and my cell phone rang. It was the lady in the car next to me. I looked over and this woman waved at me and said, ĒI just got your number off of your car.Ē She is now bringing her 18-month-old. The car magnets only cost $100, so the first week of caring for this new child will pay for it.

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