At Child Care Marketing Solutions, we work eight hours a day, five days a week to help you with your marketing, enrollment and business. I am often called “America’s Leading Expert on Childcare Business Success.” If you need help, please feel free to give us a call and we’ll help you to get your enrollment up to capacity and to be much more profitable using business’ best practices.

When is the last time you did a competitive analysis of your childcare marketplace and your key competitors? Most of my clients do not consistently do a competitive analysis. It may be that you have never conducted one, or that you haven’t done one in the last couple of years. From what I routinely see, it is pretty likely that you have not recently done one. And it is extremely important to stay on top of what is happening in your local market.

People who struggle in their business oftentimes take their ‘eye off the ball’ in terms of what is happening in their market. Before you know it, a competitor who has been working day and night to win clients has pulled families or prospects away from you. And you are left, with your head spinning, wondering: What happened?

Every six months, at a minimum, it pays to pull out your competitive analysis template and take a close look at your top five competitors, or even more. My best recommendation is to look at everyone with whom you compete in your market.

You should also keep close tabs on your local elementary schools. Oftentimes, knowingly or unknowingly, the elementary schools start competing with you for your before- and after-school business or for your preschool and pre-K prospects. This can become a big problem for many of you. It’s important to stay ahead of this curve and to possibly even lobby your local school officials to convey the impact that these school programs will have on your business and that of other private childcare providers in your local area.

Let’s look at the questions that a competitive analysis should answer:

  • What are the names of your top five or more competitors?
  • What is their pricing?
  • What are their unique benefits?
  • How do they communicate what makes them special and different?
  • What is different about their facility?
  • What services do they provide compared to you?

The best way to get a bead on what really makes you different and unique is to be very clear about what you have to offer in comparison to your competitors. In what ways are you different? Is it in one or several of the following?

  • Security
  • Playground
  • Food, meal service
  • Time of day, operations, shifts
  • Length of teacher tenure
  • Number of degreed teachers
  • Kindergarten readiness programs, etc.

You have to be very clear on what you offer compared to what others offer in your marketplace. This analysis is the first step to become perfectly clear about what others are doing in your market, and how you are different, so that you can then communicate those differences to your prospects.

Competitive analysis is one of the most important strategies that I teach. Many of you are not doing it properly, effectively or at all. When you are able to get clear and really communicate your differences, it is a game changer. I have seen it happen.

So, this is your homework assignment. Start doing the competitive analysis:

  1. Write down your top five competitors.
  2. Go to their websites.
  3. Request information, ideally with a mystery caller making the phone calls.

In some communities, information is voluntarily shared between competitors by collaborating, but you will not get the full level of competitive knowledge and clarity unless you really dig in. Enlist someone to mystery shop on your behalf, and really learn what the others are up to.

Competitive analysis is a best practice of childcare marketing. If you don’t want to be the one closing your doors, it is an important tool to use at least every six months to stay on top of the competition in your market.

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