The elusive 'wow factor'
It's the parents' first look around your nursery. While they may be smiling and nodding politely, they're quietly sizing everything and everyone up. No wonder it's such a hard sell. So how do you generate that elusive 'wow factor'? The bad news is, if you haven't got it, you can't fake it. But the good news: it's something you can develop over time.
Published on January/February 2010, Nursery Management Today

Katie Wood of Woodside Nursery in Sleaford knows that. When she started her nursery four years ago, she had plenty of obstacles in her way. But with hard work she's overcome them one by one, and today, she's got parents travelling from 15 miles away to get their kids into Woodside.

It's what inside that counts
Location, location, location - is it really that important? While Woodside Nursery(set in the middle of converging housing estates) might not enjoy an idyllic location, it doesn't seem to deter parents. "In four years, only one parent has walked away saying she couldn't imagine sending her children to us because of our location."

Remember, it's what's inside that counts. Nothing can disguise a vibrant, friendly and much loved nursery. It's the buzz that "wows" parents; it's the children and their faces that tell the story. Creating the right impression isn't just about what parents see; it's about how they experience it. Coming on too strong can be a bad thing - the best nurseries don't need too much talking up. "We like to give them a relaxed and friendly tour - there's plenty to take in - and they need to see it in their own way."

Woodside Nursery gives parents another reason to trust them straightaway. "We offer free taster sessions and trial sessions, so parents can really see whether our nursery is right for their children." Now more than ever, parents like to feel like they're getting best value.

Remember your USP
Never underestimate your uniqueness. Celebrate it. It can be the little things: treating parents to an open and honest appraisal of every day is still, even now, surprisingly uncommon. It can be the big things: Katie says, "Some of our children come from Poland - so we've got a member of staff who speaks Polish, Russian and Lithuanian. Then there are our NurseryCam systems, they've always been a big part of our offering, and a key differentiator over other nurseries. It's the ultimate layer of extra protection and parents love it."

"It's fantastic. I went back to work when my son was less than three months, so seeing him anytime online was great for my peace of mind. When I was missing him, I could go online and see the fun he was having." mum Marie Williamson, child at Woodside Nursery.

Perseverance pays off
Does setting parents up with such high expectations mean setting yourself up for a fall? Not if you work hard. Generating a sense of enthusiasm and excitement is an ongoing, everyday process. At Woodside Nursery, there is always something to get excited about. It's an ever changing, always involving environment.

And remember: perfecting that 'wow factor' isn't just a cosmetic thing; it's all part and parcel of giving your children the best start in life. (And it's why Woodside children are praised for their independence and character when they get to school.)

Nothing spreads like word of mouth - and when you've got the elusive 'wow factor' parents sing your praises. That'll boost your occupancy rates. And next time we'll be taking a closer look at what nurseries have to do to maintain full occupancy rates. That's a full time job in itself.

For more information contact Woodside Nursery on 0152 930 7500 or visit their website at www.woodsidechildren.com.

If you would like further information about parental webcams, CCTV or security for your nursery, please visit www.nurserycam.co.uk or contact NurseryCam Ltd on 01344 751688 or email info@nurserycam.co.uk.

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