Increasing Daycare Enrollment – Understanding How Parents choose a Daycare

A general business rule of thumb to follow is to understand your customer’s buying behavior first before starting your business. In the case of a daycare business, you should fully understand the buying behavior of parents first before starting your daycare center. Understanding what factors are important to parents when choosing a daycare center allows you to create an effect marketing strategy, and increase the chance of your daycare center’s success. The choice of daycare is a complex decision, but can be primarily attributed to the following factors in order of importance:

Atmosphere. Parents would like to see and feel a happy and nurturing environment – that is, happy children, caring and happy staff, friendly environment, and a clean place. A parent who positively connects with the teachers at an emotional level will greatly help as this will provide him/her with a sense of assurance that his/her child will be taken good care of. Wall decorations, children’s artwork posted on the walls, toys, books, room colors, and etc. are all factors that can contribute to a positive atmosphere. On the other hand, old toys and books, tired wall (e.g. walls that need a fresh coat of paint), and the lack of room color and decorations will produce a negative atmosphere.
Location and convenience. Daycare centers found in a locality most often serve the immediate neighborhood. Parents will select a daycare that is relatively near their residence and/or their place of work. Even parking or ingress / egress access can be a decision factor for most parents. The fact that a parent needs to drop-off and pick-up their child requires good ingress / egress access for the parent’s convenience.
Value driven. Depending on the demography, financial constraints play a considerable role in the decision-making process of the parent. A daycare that offers quality at a value-price could be the clinching factor in parents’ decision to enroll their child there.
Programming. Weekly lesson plans, parent involvement activities, programming, and the availability of different kinds of learning materials are critical in establishing a good learning environment for the child. In general, children learn everyday. However, for academically inclined parents, programming can become an important factor in their decision-making process. A daycare center that includes enrichment programs such as heritage activities, language lessons (e.g. English, French) or math programs can be a decision factor for some parents.
Facilities. The equipment available, cleanliness and general appearance of your facilities will differentiate your daycare center from other daycare centers. Examples include playground, play structure, gymnasium, security, air conditioning and etc. In extreme weather conditions such as a very hot summer day, or very cold winter day, a gymnasium is an asset, which allows children to stay indoor and receive their daily dose of gross motor skill activities (e.g. running and jumping).

Customer cost of switching daycare is high. The child’s attachment to the teacher and the other children at the center deters parents from switching daycare centers without putting deep thought into it. As a result, a customer of a one daycare will not normally switch to another daycare center.

For more daycare marketing tips and strategies, you can visit the marketing section of this How to Start and Manage a Daycare online tutorial.

For other topics on how to start and manage a daycare center including home daycares, please visit Parent Relief’s Resource section.


Important resources for daycare operators – Free!

1. Free Daycare Advertising – Parent Relief Online Directory

2. Free Daycare Software – Parent Relief bizAdvantage

3. Free Tips and Strategies – How to Start and Manage a Daycare online tutorial


Dan has been involved in starting and managing daycare centers for a number of years. This experience allows him to provide valuable advice on a wide range of topics on daycare management including daycare advertising, marketing, financial management, program design, room layouts and more.