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Crush the Competition With Effective Competitor Analysis

It's not how fast you're running, it's how steady you can run for a long time. Have you noticed how fast you're running?

The childcare industry continues to grow bit by bit, sometimes faster than your eyes can see. When was the last time you took a minute and compared your center to competition around you. You may have noticed that you have never done one - or the last time you've done this is probably over years and months ago. 

It's so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day tasks and not look at the bigger picture of why you are there as a center owner or center director. While you are busy managing the staffing, programming, children and families, another center across the street could just be in the process of rebuilding their playground which can give them that competitive edge to slow down your tours. 

How often should I conduct a competitor analysis?

The golden number for competitor research and analysis is at least twice a year, but the more the better! Choose wisely on when you do these competitor research, it's best to find a time where you see a pattern of lower inquiries or slow movement in your pipeline, this decrease might be the cause of your competitors.

Where do I start?

The best place to start for a competitor analysis is stepping out of your center and taking a walk down the street. It might have been a while since you have taken a stroll down the street, but this will help you see what's around you physically and also take in a little fresh air. You may not notice how close or far away your competitors are or what they even look like. Once you have identified your competitors ask yourself these questions (some questions may require a mystery call):

What are their prices for each room?
Example answer: $95 for 3-5 year olds, $100 for 2-3 year olds, $115 for 0-2 year olds.

What are their unique selling points that they advertise on their digital platforms?
Example answer: The homepage of their website shows that they have newly renovated their playground and added bush walking in their weekly program. There are also some posts about it on their Facebook page.

What is compelling about their curb appeal or facility?
Example answer: Their large "Welcome" sign really caught my attention, it was simple yet eye catching to everyone who is driving past the street.

What services are they offering that your center may not have?
Example answer: They offer bush walking as part of their program and also offer home made meals for families to take home when they pick up their children.

After you have collected this information, it’s important that you take a look at what is really making you unique or different from each competitor. As I’ve mentioned in the past, what used to be “unique” is mostly likely not anymore. Most centers offer ‘state of the art playground,’ ‘security features’ and ‘accredited curriculum.’ Dive deeper than that. In what ways are your unique benefits going to offer families the most value? The most important way to have the edge over your competition is being able to effectively communicate what makes you different to prospective families.

Consistent and clear competitive analysis can change the way you do business. I have seen clients put these into place and almost immediately make improvements to their sales process.

So what’s the next step? Start doing your competitive analysis:

  1. The best and most efficient way to receive information from a center is to send in a mystery shopper through phone or as a physical tour. You should be able to see the whole picture as a mystery shopper, especially details such as price, facilities and program. Dependent on your relationship with your competitors, they may offer this information voluntarily as it is mutually beneficial for both of you to have this data. 

  2. On your website, if you have any "Contact Us" or "Book a Tour" forms - begin adding this crucial question "How did you hear from us?" and make it mandatory to answer it. It's also best to provide a drop down list of options for the family, so it makes it easier for them to answer the question. During a physical tour, it also wouldn't hurt to ask the questions "Have you toured any other centers in the area?", "What made you interested in touring this center?". Just to start the conversation and hopefully gain some feedback from them about your center or others.

  3. When moving someone to Lost Opportunity, it is also in your best interest to use your Lost Opportunity survey email or conduct a follow up call to get the information on why your prospect ultimately chose another option and where they might have gone. This can be a tough bit of information to get your hands on, as people are less likely to volunteer this information after they have moved on, which is why it is highly suggested to ask while they are still inquiring where else they are considering. When you move a prospect to Lost Opportunity, LineLeader Enroll will prompt you to specify Lost Opportunity Reason and To Whom.

  4. Run a quarterly satisfaction survey with your families. This will help you gain important insights to what your family wants and what they might like to change to meet their satisfaction. Questions to always include in the survey are:

    "What would you like to see at the center?"
    "What are some things you think we could change or make better?"
    Comment box at the end for the families to write anything extra they may feel about your center

    It's always best to start with your current enrolled families as these are going to be your advocates for life. If they have a great experience and gave feedback that was also listened to or acknowledged, they will be your best promoters even after their children have graduated at your center. Don't forget about the power of "Word of Mouth".

As we all plan for a more successful year in our business, it is important for childcare organizations to move from just the thought of a competitor analysis to become a consistent practice in their development of strategy. If your center is looking towards 100% enrollments each year, this is one of the best practices of childcare to stay ahead of the competition and the game!

Want to learn more on how LineLeader by ChildcareCRM can help you with your competitor analysis? Click the "Schedule a Demo" button below to see the system in action.

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Meet The Author

Chuck Gibbs co-founded ChildcareCRM in 2009 after seeing an obvious need of childcare business owners for a streamlined sales and marketing process. Chuck is a serial founder of industry-focused software companies, including software businesses for the oil and gas industry. Chuck started ChildcareCRM in 2010 and is now serving as chairman and Chief Visionary Officer while enjoying additional freedom to spend time with his family and pursue his passion for travel and skiing.

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