Are you using the right content when you survey your parents and staff? A few weeks ago, in Part 1 of this 2 part series, we talked about online surveying tools like Survey Monkey and how to put an online survey together.
Today, in part 2, we will talk about creating the right content for your surveys, so that you can use the feedback to improve your child care center.
You’ll learn about three different categories of content that should be included in your surveys and we’ll and also discuss how to leverage the results to gain positive testimonials and support tuition increases for your program.
Before we dive into content, remember, you want to keep your surveys short, no more than 10-15 questions. If they are too long it will hurt your response rate.
Let’s look at three different categories of content to include in your parent survey.
Category 1: Rating Scale
I like to use a rating scale of 1-10, where 1 is very poor and 10 is excellent. This is super easy to set up in Survey Monkey (see Parent Surveys Part 1). You want to choose a scale that you can keep consistent over time. That way you can compare your survey results year over year.
For example one of your questions could be “Rate the ease of drop off and pick up”. Let’s say you receive a 7.6 in the first survey and then take steps to improve your drop off/pick up process. You will want to make sure that your scale is the same the second time you ask that question so you can tell if you improved.
Category 2: Content
Before you set up your survey you need to prepare a list of things that you want to measure for your school. Some examples might be the quality of meals and snacks, teacher friendliness, communication from the school to parents and any other things that have to do with the day to day experience for both children and parents.
Choose the most important things you are looking to measure within your program. Hold a brainstorming session with your staff and figure out about 8-12 items for that list. Then develop the survey questions around those items.
Also include some open ended questions in your survey. One question I always like to ask is “What is your favorite thing about our school?” Responses to this question tell you what you are doing right.
On the flip side you also need to ask “What is the one area you would most like to see improved in our program?” That question may tell you something you don’t know, that hasn’t been on your radar. I highly recommend that you include these two questions in your content.
Category 3: Guidance for Capital Improvements
The final piece of content I like to see in parent surveys is questions asking for guidance on improvements that you plan on making to your center.
If you are thinking of adding either a nature centered playground or improving the quality of meals and snacks you can ask which one parents prefer. Then you can let everyone know the survey results. Those results will support your decisions regarding the capital programs for your school and families will appreciate being involved in the decision making process.
I recommend that any time you are planning on making major changes to in capital improvements to your school or building that you go out to your parents first and you get that voice of customer support.
It is always reassuring to know the changes you are making matter to your customers. When my Child Care Success Academy members ask me about expanding into kindergarten and first grade or starting new after school programs my response is ALWAYS to use the survey process and go back to the customer and find out what they want.
And don’t forget to include your alumni parents. They can provide valuable insight, especially in the area of program expansion.
Now let’s discuss how to leverage the results of your surveys once you get the results back. Remember that you are looking for 30-35 percent response rate.
Include a “Name Optional” field at the bottom of your survey.
This is a great way to turn positive comments from parents into testimonials. Just contact the parent and ask if you can use their comments and a photo as testimonials inside your center, online and within your community.
You can also use your data to support a tuition increase. YES, you read that right, you can support a price increase with your survey!
For example, survey your parents in the spring, then in the summer you can explain that a price increase is going to take place in September. You can say based on our customer survey results we heard what you wanted and we are going to expand and improve our program and we will use the tuition increase to support the improvements our parents said they wanted.
This communicates to your customers that you are listening to them and it is awesome because you are developing a dialogue with them. You are letting them know that you are listening to what they’re telling you and you are taking action. That will improve your response rate in the future. Your customers will be willing to spend time completing the survey because they will see that the results mean something to you, and that you will take action on them.
I hope this two part series helps you get your survey process started. This is super important for the health of your program. It will improve retention, it will improve your enrollment and it will improve your cash flow because you will be able to justify your price increases.
You also need to survey your staff so you can improve your trust and communication with your teachers. When you ask questions and then listen and take action on the feedback you receive it shows them that you’re listening and that you care.
What you DON’T want to do is NOTHING. DO NOT survey your parents and staff and then put the results in a drawer and not look at them again. That is the worst thing you can possibly do.
The point of using parent surveys is to listen to your customers and take action on what they want and need. If you are not going to use the survey results then then just don’t survey at all.