Being the director or owner of a childcare business is definitely a full-time job. You have classrooms to monitor, families to take care of, new tours to schedule, compliance issues to think about—the list could go on and you’d still never get it all done. What are you to do, though, when you’re so busy that you just can’t get to the phone?
You can’t leave callers hanging. You can’t let voicemail messages pile up and you certainly can’t expect to be available for all the calls that need your attention. So, what are you to do?
One of the best options is to enlist the assistance of a professional answering service. This type of service will act as an extension of your business and ensure that every single call gets the attention that it deserves, even when you and your staff are unavailable. There are several features to appreciate when you choose to go this route, but you’ll also have to make sure that you’re choosing the right people for the job.
Here are five must-have criteria to consider when you’re looking into partnering with an answering service or virtual receptionist for your childcare or daycare center.
In the business of childcare, you’re working with families who want to send their kids somewhere they can be safe and happy. If you have someone cranky or short answering the phone, it could be problematic. Partnering with an answering service allows you to connect with professionals who are experienced at fielding all types of phone calls.
They also understand professional courtesy and how to have a pleasant demeanor with callers, no matter what the situation might be. You can even ask about what kind of training people undergo before working for the answering service in question.
If anyone knows about busy schedules and working parents, it’s you. There are probably several instances where parents have tried to reach out after hours only to have to leave a message. With a 24/7 answering service, that’s no longer a concern. Every call will be answered by a live person, whether someone calls after 6 PM or if they call on Sunday afternoon. This will ensure that every single call gets answered and every inquiry gets handled accordingly.
Plus, having open availability also allows parents to call with scheduling changes, questions, and other concerns at hours that may be more effective for them. Having someone available around the clock also ensures that you’re not losing leads to another daycare or childcare business that is more responsive.
How much can you customize and scale the plans and services available from an answering service or virtual receptionist company? If you choose the best ones, you should be able to create custom plans down to the last detail. You should be able to customize and scale an answering service solution that fits the needs of your specific daycare or childcare facility.
You might even want to create a custom greeting for parents for special occasions or holidays, or create a plan for overflow calls during the summer when more parents are looking to enroll for the fall session. These are just a couple of different examples, but what you can do with a well-established answering service is a lot more than most people think. Make sure that you’re taking advantage of that.
Another facet that goes along with customization is scalability. We kind of mentioned it above, but you need an answering service that is going to grow and scale with your business. This includes scaling up during good times, as well as scaling back during less-than-successful times. Can you add agents, services, features, etc., or are you locked into a contract for a specific period of time?
What kind of features does the answering service offer? What features do you need, or think you’ll use, when it comes to hiring someone to answer the phones? Will you want services like appointment scheduling and outreach assistance? The modern answering service can do so much more than just answer the phones. That’s something that you need to take advantage of.
This kind of goes along with customization, but it’s more focused on getting the actual features and services that you need. If you’re looking at an answering service that doesn’t have a lot of features, it won’t matter how much you can customize them. Ask about scaling up and changing features as you go, too, so that you know what your options are.
Last, but certainly not least, is that you should be able to find transparent and flexible pricing options. Companies that try to avoid giving prices or that beat around the bush about how much they actually charge are probably hiding something. Choose virtual receptionists or answering services that are clear and up front with pricing. Not just that, but make sure that they can provide a flexible plan that fits your needs.
You’re working on a budget here, after all. You can’t spend endless money on an answering service. At the same time, you can’t focus too much on the cost because you could lose sight of other valuable features.
We know that you’re busy running your daycare center or childcare business, but we also know that you don’t want to let anyone down or miss opportunities. That’s why at Smith.ai, we have a team of dedicated virtual receptionists that can assist you with everything from being your go-to 24/7 answering service to handling lead intake, appointment scheduling, and even help with outreach campaigns if you need it.