The Power of Testimonials


You can talk about how great your child care center is all day long – on your website, in your brochure, and in your other marketing. And that’s certainly something you can and should do.

But you know what’s really effective? What makes people clamor to get their kids into your center rather than any other?

When other people talk about how great your child care center is.

People get all hung up on the logistics of obtaining testimonials, but assuming you’ve got a great program (and I know you do), they’re really not that hard to get. Here are a few ideas:

1. When a parent comes in with a compliment about your center, your teachers, or something else you’re doing a great job with, simply ask if you can write up his or her comment and use it as a testimonial. Or, even better, if the parent is not a shy type, whip out your smartphone and get a video testimonial for your website.

2. When a longtime family is leaving your center because their children have graduated, ask if they wouldn’t mind getting a cup of coffee – your treat, of course – and telling you a bit about why they stayed with you so long, and what they loved best about their children being in your program.

3. Ask for them using a testimonial contest. Tell all your families that you’re looking for testimonials about your center, and that everyone who submits one by a certain date will a) win a prize just for participating and b) be entered into a random drawing for something really cool – at least a $250 value or so. Make it easy for them to participate by creating a simple form they can fill out.

Once you’ve got these great testimonials, where should you use them? Everywhere – on your website, in your brochures, in your newsletter, and maybe even on a “Testimonial Wall” at your center. Don’t be shy.

And remember: Testimonials are most effective when they’re specific, heartfelt, and believable. So don’t do too much editing – let your happy families speak for themselves.

Click here to get your copy of our exclusive free report, 6 Easy Ways To Boost Enrollments and Attract the Very Best Staff.

What Do Your Parents Truly Want?

Morning Baby Toothpaste

Back when my now-almost-8-year-old was a toddler with new teeth, we were purchasing a whole lot of “training toothpaste.” (Lorelei was fond of cracking it open and sucking it down like a sports gel when we weren’t looking – fortunately, part of the “training” aspect of this product is fluoride-free and safe if swallowed, though I don’t know if her toothpaste shooters were quite what the manufacturers envisioned.)

One time, the store didn’t have the brand we normally bought, so I picked up a tube of Orajel, Berry Blast flavor. It wasn’t until I got home that I really looked at it.

It was a little strange. The tube featured a cartoon of a bear sitting next to a tray of cupcakes on a picnic blanket. He was wielding a paste-laden toothbrush in front of a small black-and-white cat. It was unclear whether the bear was about to brush his own teeth, or the cat’s, or if he was just extolling the virtues of Orajel Berry Blast generally. It was also unclear why the brush and paste were broken out before the cupcakes were consumed rather than after.

I was willing to overlook all that; cartoons are weird. What really got me was the small notation on the front of the tube: Training Toothpaste PLUS Breath Freshener.

Are there really a lot of parents out there lamenting their toddler’s morning mouth? Do these kids subsist on a diet of onion rings and Lucky Strikes? One of the best things about little kids is that, dirty diapers aside, they generally smell pretty good. They’re still so brand-new to the world; most of us have stuff that’s been kicking around the back of the fridge for longer.

My guess is that the good people at Orajel were trying to find some way to set themselves apart in the (hyper-competitive?) world of kids’ oral hygiene products. But, alas, a breath freshener was not really what I – the intended consumer – was looking for in a toddler training toothpaste.

What was I looking for? Well, in addition to the above-mentioned non-toxicity, a flip-top cap would have been great. The Orajel had a screw top that was both difficult to use when wrangling a squirmy toddler and prone to rolling under the sink.

Also, clear gel would have been preferable to green, as anything meant to be used on, by, or near a child of that age tends to get on everything in that child’s immediate vicinity – their clothes, your clothes, the family cat, you name it.

I never bought that particular toothpaste again. Instead, I took the time to hunt down the brand I originally bought – the clear gel that came in the tube with the flip-top cap.

While it’s important to set your child care center apart from the pack, you can never forget about the things that parents universally want in their child care: Reliability and trustworthiness. A positive, friendly, caring environment. Staff who genuinely enjoy working with young children and are skilled at it. Good communication at all levels. A center that’s clean and in good repair.

Without these fundamentals, regardless of what else you’re trying to convey about your center, you’re offering bear cupcakes and breath freshener to a crowd that just doesn’t care about those things.

Click here for your free copy of our exclusive report, 64 Terrific Child Care Marketing Ideas.

Don’t Be Like Starbucks

StarbucksI was recently traveling for work and woke up far earlier than usual – I think it was the novelty of not having small children intermittently chirping on the baby monitor and waking me up all night.

So I packed up my work, headed to the nearest Starbucks, and settled down with my latte in an unobtrusive corner to hang out until daylight arrived.

I was right near the counter, and I saw a lot of regulars coming in over the course of the next few hours. Apparently some change had been made to the store layout the previous night, after closing (which was completely lost on me, of course, as I’d never been to that particular Starbucks before).

One by one, the regulars came in and gave their orders to the barista. Many of them also mentioned something to the effect of, “So you guys made some changes here, I see!” or “Hey, Gene – new layout looks good.”

And every single time, the barista visibly winced and said, “It was news to me – I didn’t know we were doing this until I came in this morning and it was a done deal. I’m the store manager…you think they would have told me.”

It was clearly a sore spot – and why shouldn’t it be? This man was, as far as I could tell, a longtime employee (and store manager) who had both pride and a sense of ownership in his work – exactly what you want from your employees. He comes in one morning to find everything in his store rearranged, with no notice, and it feels like a slap in the face.

I don’t think the slight was deliberate – it was probably more a case of someone thinking, “Well, this won’t directly affect anything Gene does, so we don’t need to worry about looping him in” (if in fact Gene was considered at all). But it stung nonetheless.

Whenever you make changes at your center, be they large or small, be sure to consider the feelings of your staff. Overcommunication is far better than no communication – especially if you want your team members to feel highly invested in what they do. And, trust me, you do.

Click here for your copy of our exclusive free report, 17 Secrets to Finding – and Keeping – Great Teachers.

A Staffing Tip That Could Save Your Business

poor child care staffing decisions can lead you to court

It’s no secret that you’re in a high-turnover industry. Lots of young professionals pass through the world of child care along the path to higher degrees, and some people just aren’t cut out to work with young children.

When an employee isn’t up to snuff, you often know it pretty quickly – and may decide to cut ties with that person almost immediately. When that happens (unless the employee is truly abusive or dangerous), you may be tempted to just pretend that everything is going fine until you have a replacement lined up, at which point you’ll go ahead and terminate.


Here’s the thing: Oftentimes everyone in a center will know someone is on his or her way out; many of them may have already complained about this person’s performance to you. But none of that matters if you don’t discipline the person directly.

If a supervisor doesn’t talk to the employee about his or her performance issues, the employee may legitimately complain that “I thought everything was going fine! Nobody ever said anything to me.”

And if that happens, you’ve set the stage for the employee thinking that maybe the termination was actually triggered by an illegal consideration (the employee’s race, for example, or religion) rather than legitimate performance-based concerns. And it’s going to be hard to convince a jury otherwise if that employee ultimately decides to sue you.

So address performance concerns head-on, and document them – in writing! – in the employee’s file. It could save your business.

Click here for your copy of our exclusive free report, 17 Secrets to Finding – and Keeping – Great Teachers.

It’s Time To Get Specific

Ken and Barbie marry.JPGWhen you were a little girl (guys, bear with me for a moment), did you ever play the game with your girlfriends where you envisioned your ideal grown-up life?

…and I would marry a tall man named Bradley with light brown hair and dark blue eyes, and we’d have three kids – twin boys, Max and Michael, and a girl named Emma – and we’d all live in a big white house on the ocean and go play outside on the beach every day with our golden retriever, Sandy.

I certainly remember playing it from time to time, though I confess my dreamy fantasies (both past and current) tend to run more along the lines of discovering the perfect fudgy-yet-cakey brownie and eating happily ever after.

Life has a way of turning out differently than we expect, to say the least – did anyone out there actually marry Bradley and move to the big white house on the beach? If so, do tell! – but you should never underestimate the importance of getting specific when there’s something you want.

Here are a few examples to illustrate my point:

Example A: Enrollments

  • Okay: I’d like some more nice families in my program…
  • Better: I’d like to enroll three new families by the end of the year – each of which has an annual household income of over $80,000, is pleasant to deal with, stays very involved with our program, pays on time, and is well-connected in our community to help bring in even more similar families.

Example B: Hiring

  • Okay: We need a new teacher in the preschool room…
  • Better: I’m looking to hire a preschool teacher who has a real passion for working with 4- and 5-year-olds, has at least three years of classroom experience, and is looking for a long-term professional home.

Example C: Staff Performance Issues

  • Okay: I wish Donna were more on top of things… 
  • Better: Donna, I need you to get here at least 15 minutes before you’re expected to be in the classroom, have your room and materials all set up when the first kids arrive, and give every family a cheerful, personal greeting when they enter.

Do you see the difference? In all three examples, the first statement is nothing more than a vague wish, while the second is a crystal-clear vision of your ideal outcome.

You may not always get your ideal outcome – but you’re much, much likelier to get it if you know exactly what you want.

When you do this exercise, don’t get all hung up on all the reasons it simply couldn’t work (“But a teacher like that would never want to work here!” “But all of the really good families in our area have been snapped up by the center across town!”). Just get clear on your own ideal scenario – what you’d truly want, in your perfect world – and go from there.

You will be shocked at how much this helps you both clarify, and achieve, your biggest goals. You can’t hit a target you can’t see, whether that target is a spouse who’s perfect for you or your dream of a fully enrolled, wildly successful program.

(Case in point: In addition to a great husband, I’m happy to report that I did find what I think is the nearly perfect brownie recipe – just add half a teaspoon of kosher salt. Brilliant.)

Click here for your copy of our exclusive free report, 17 Secrets to Finding – and Keeping – Great Teachers.