The question I get asked most often is:
"How can I compete with low-cost child care programs in my community?”
The answer comes down to this...
Price-shopping usually only occurs when customers are given no value-based reasons to choose one product or service over another, so they are forced to make their buying decision based on price alone.
This is common in the case of “commodity” products like gas for your car, groceries, and local services like plumbers and dry cleaners. But even a seemingly “they’re all the same” service like dry cleaning can differentiate themselves by adding value to what they do (by going “green”, using non-toxic products, home delivery, extra added touches) and it will enable them to charge more by differentiating themselves and attracting higher-end clients who want those value-added services.
Same story for early learning or preschool businesses. Just because you have a low-cost competitor down the street – or free preschool offered by your local school district – does not mean that you have to close your doors on that program. All you need is to be able to clearly demonstrate and market your “added value” and special, unique features of your offering compared to the low-price competitors.
For example, let’s say you’re based in a college town. You know your best clients are passionate about healthy living, organic food, and nature-based experiences for their children.
It’s very likely that the free and low-cost child care options in this community are not going to offer organic menus for children, outdoor classrooms, nature-based field trips, and an eco-friendly school environment with all-natural cleaners. You can very effectively compete by adding these important features and benefits to your program, and charge higher prices precisely because you offer a higher-end early learning experience. Your best clients will sing your praises and parents that have the same “green” passion will flock to you, provided you are not the best-kept secret in your community. So TELL that story, loud and often!
On the flip side, maybe you’re in a more blue-collar market with lots of factory and hospital employees who really need a quality option to cover second shift (usually 4-11 pm). Add evening care to your program, especially if few or no options exist in your community, and watch your enrollment take off.
Finally, check in with your real mindset about price. Often, our child care clients who seem unable or unwilling to raise prices are stuck in a fear-based mindset based on false beliefs that “my customers won’t be able to afford me (or will leave me) if I raise prices”.
We find this usually is not the case at all. Every market has price elasticity. And studies have shown that only 15-20 percent of any given market truly shop based on price alone.
The key to success is to understand your market, identify who your best clients are so you can make a strategic plan to attract more of them, and give them what they want through added value features and benefits. Then, raise your prices slowly but consistently and celebrate your higher profit margins by taking your teacher teams out to lunch!
WANT THE EXACT STEP-BY-STEP FORMULA TO:
Identify and easily communicate your Unique Value
Add value to your program so you can compete more effectively
Eliminate “price shoppers” from your program
Attract more ideal clients and more Private Pay families
Charge higher rates while staying fully enrolled