A school is, first and foremost, an institution of learning, whether it’s for infants and toddlers or a prestigious university. However, if you run a private school or preschool, it is also a business, and businesses need customers. Hosting an open house is a low-pressure way to invite prospective families into your building to tour the facilities, meet the staff, and gain a better understanding of your program. Tours are another way to invite parents and children into your school so they can see the program in action and feel comfortable that they are making the best decision for themselves and their children.
If you are planning your first opening house or are new to guiding facility tours, here are some tips to help you make the best of these inviting opportunities!
Offer Perks for Attending
People love to feel like they’re getting something for free, so offer perks to families attending open houses and tours. For example, you could have door prizes like 10% off tuition for six months, gift cards, no registration fee, diapers, or toys.
Another option is to offer a specific dollar amount off the registration fee for anyone who attends the open house or tour and registers within five days.
Offer Flexible Times
Parents are busy people, especially working parents, so it is important to offer a variety of times or windows for open house events and tours. Consider hosting two to three open house events throughout the year. At least one should be in the evening hours, and one on the weekend during the day.
Schools typically provide tours on demand and offered during the school day so they can see the program in action. However, if possible, avoid touring during nap time as it is disruptive to sleeping children, and parents won’t get a genuine feel for the program.
Maintain your professionalism the entire time. You want to be warm and inviting, but don’t act too casual or friendly. Some people may find it unprofessional if you appear too familiar or laid back.
Dress professionally and dress for the vibe you want your school to present. Teaching, especially preschool, is messy and active, so teachers don’t need to wear suits and ties. Still, their clothing should be clean, rip-free, and present an overall look of professionalism.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you or the staff providing the tours and leading open house sessions need to know the program and have a thorough understanding of child development. Your goal is to demonstrate competence and confidence. But, of course, no one knows everything, so be prepared for questions you won’t have an immediate answer to and let them know you don’t have an answer right now, but you will find out for them. The person giving the tour should be able to answer questions about the school’s history, staffing, tuition, credentials, health and safety policies, curriculum, and child development.
People love free food; it makes them feel welcome, and if they’re bringing their children along to an evening open house may cover dinner making it one less thing they have to worry about that evening! Finger foods like fruit, crackers, cookies, cheese, muffins, cupcakes, juice, tea, and coffee are a simple way to add a little festivity to your event. You want your open house to feel like a warm, inviting experience. During tours, you can offer parents water or soda while touring or a cup of coffee and tea once you sit down to discuss the program and options. Have packets of crackers or cookies on hand for parents who bring children.
The goal of an open house or tour is to showcase your facility and the excellent program you offer. Maintain professionalism, dress for success, and present a thorough understanding of your program and the children in your care. Creating a warm and welcoming environment that parents can see in action will make them feel confident placing their children into your care.