A few years back, I was in an initial meeting with a child care client. One of the first questions I asked was:
“What happens when a new lead contacts one of your centers (either via phone or web)?”
The response I got was:
“Well…someone is supposed to call them back as soon as they can.”
Over the next week, I called each of their centers at least twice and filled out the existing online form from their site (it didn’t have an option to specify which center I was inquiring about).
One center out of nine called me back two days after I left a voicemail.
- Out of 18 phone calls, not once was the phone answered.
- 8 centers never returned my call at all.
- No one responded to my web inquiry. Not even an email.
- An actual lead would have already spoken to their competition, probably toured at least one other center and possibly enrolled elsewhere in the time it took to receive a call-back. At the very least, that lead (me) was further along in the sales process with someone else.
What’s happening when a parent first contacts you?
By the time a parent reaches out to you, they are well into the decision-making process. They have researched your site, read reviews and gathered any other information they can find. Gone are the days of salespeople (that’s you, btw) having to lead a prospect through the entire sales process.
Assume that they are, at least, 50% through and meet them there. Be ready to answer informed questions. They’re not contacting you to “see what you’re about.” They know already.
When a parent contacts you about your program, they are in what’s known as a “buying mindset.” They want to talk to you – now.
So, what does that mean?
That means the sooner you speak to that inquiring parent, the more likely they are to enroll.
According to a study published by Dr. James Oldroyd called the Lead Response Management Study, your chance of successfully contacting a lead is 100 times greater within 5 minutes of an inquiry as opposed to 30 minutes. That parent is also 21 times more likely to move forward in the process if contacted within five minutes.
Another study published by InsideSales.com shows that 35-50% of sales go to the person that responds first!
It’s pretty simple when you look at the data.
If the dance studio or child care center down the street from you speaks with that parent first, it is HIGHLY likely you just lost money.
OK. What do we do about it?
The simplest step to take is to answer the phone when it rings. I know…. but, seriously.
The next step is to make response time a priority with your staff.
Whether it’s fielding web inquiry forms, emails or voicemails, someone at each of your locations needs to be responsible for taking immediate action.
If you’re unsure of your current response speed, simply secret-shop your locations. Contact each via web and phone and see how long it takes to get a response – or have a friend do it. After all, you can’t fix what you can’t measure. Use that information as your starting point.
If you’re using a system like ChildcareCRM, set alerts for incoming inquiries. At the very least, you can set an auto-responder that says, “Thanks for contacting us – here’s a little more information to hold you over – someone will be calling you shortly” (obviously, put a little more effort in to the copy than THAT).
It’s really a no-brainer.
Increasing your response speed can immediately increase your enrollments while costing you nothing (or next to nothing). Of everything we do in marketing, it really is a no-brainer.
Have you successfully increased your response time and seen the results? Is it a thorn in your side? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!
Until next time – Be Well. Be Happy. Shape Minds.