Despite a greater than ever demand for playschool places, many sessions remain unfilled due to the varied hours that parents and carers choose to book, as well as other factors such as illness, holidays and routine appointments. Empty spaces are not just an inconvenience when it comes to staff scheduling – they are also valuable sales opportunities. So how can you make sure your nursery fills those empty spaces and maximises profits? The answer lies in SMS messaging.
The Facebook Phenomenon
In recent years, many UK nurseries and playschools have jumped on the social media bandwagon in order to communicate news, events, promotions and more to parents and their friends. Facebook, for example, is a great way for letting parents know about free spaces in under-booked groups, which are often offered at bargain prices for regulars. This is all well and good, assuming that said parent has time to browse their Facebook feed. With the immense time and logistical challenges facing today’s busy working parents, however, there is every chance that these updates simply do not get seen or are only viewed when it is too late. As a consequence, there is a very real chance that opportunities are being missed to reach parents who would be more than happy to book up these sessions. For the parent, the attraction is extra childcare at a reduced price, whilst for the playschool it is a chance to fill up spaces and increase revenue. SMS allows playschools to reach out in a way that has a much greater likelihood of reaching the people that matter.
The single biggest attraction of SMS messaging is that by nature, people tend to read every message they receive – and often within as little as three minutes of receiving it. It has been proven that no other medium has anywhere near the reach and response statistics that SMS messaging offers. Most adults carry their mobile phone within hand’s reach at almost all times, meaning that it is easy to place a message directly into the palm of their hand. Perhaps it is this personal touch – reminiscent of receiving a hand delivered letter – that makes the humble SMS so powerful. When it comes to busy, working parents, an SMS is far more likely to reach the right person at the right time than Facebook or email.
Virtual Mobile Numbers (VMN)
One way to make the most of the opportunities in SMS messaging is with a Virtual Mobile Number or VMN. These are a great way to facilitate the immediate booking of spaces by allowing recipients to reply directly to your SMS. For somebody who has little free time, it is the perfect solution. An example might look like this:
“Bill & Ben’s Nursery has half price spaces available this week especially for regulars: Mon 8:30 – 13:00, Tues 13:00 – 17:30, Fri 13:00 – 17:30. Simply reply with the day you wish to book and we’ll send you a confirmation message. Reply STOP to opt out.”
In this example, all the recipient needs to do is hit reply, type the three or four letter abbreviation for their day of choice and hit send. With a VMN allowing two-way communications just like normal messaging, you will get their response regardless of what form they choose to use – both Tues and Tuesday will come back. With message filtering, it is easy to coordinate responses based upon days.
Once a booking has been received from the parent/carer, sending a confirmation message such as that shown below is a great way to ensure that the recipient is aware the booking has been acknowledged.
“Thanks for booking your half price session on Tues 13th June 13:00 – 17:30! See you then”
The more trust that you can build from the beginning, the more likely that you will see repeated use of the system and therefore greater ROI.
If you wanted to take things a step further, you could consider investing in the use of a mobile short code. This is a special 5 digit number that can be used instead of a traditional 11-digit mobile number. With a shortcode, your message might look something like this:
“Half price sessions available at Bill & Ben’s Nursery this week. Only available to regular attendees. Text SESSIONS to 87007 for available hours. To opt out, text STOP to 87007.”
In this approach, you can keep things even simpler by only providing full details of the slots available to those who express an interest. The use of the shortcode makes it easy for interested parties to request the information, and also adds another layer of professionalism to the communications.
Remember, SMS messaging, like any other form of electronic business communication, is protected by various laws. It is therefore important to make sure you check that you are fully compliant. For example, you must have received the recipient’s express consent to receive SMS communications from your organisation, and text messages must include the opportunity to opt out. Keep an eye on our blog over the coming weeks as we publish a full set of case studies on the various laws governing SMS marketing.
Another key to staying on the right side of the law is to make sure that all offers are genuine – so make sure that half price really is half price. Generally speaking, honesty is by far the best policy and will help you to stay safe.
At Fastsms, we are passionate about helping businesses to succeed with SMS Messaging. We offer some of the UK’s lowest priced business SMS bundles, along with a range of useful services including Virtual Mobile Numbers and Shortcodes.
With our versatile messaging system, we offer the flexibility to send and receive messages by email, to an application or through our powerful cloud based platform.
We also have a team of dedicated humans at the ready 24/7 to help you with any questions you may have – call us on 0800 954 5305 to find out how we can help you now.