The benefit of getting parent testimonials
As we know, recommendations in all aspects of life can be really helpful. It’s much more reassuring to make a big purchase, book a holiday or try a restaurant if you have heard a positive review about it from a trusted source.
Unsurprisingly, committing to childcare is no different. In fact, choosing childcare can be one of the biggest and most stressful decisions that parents face. With a range of types of childcare available, it really can make all the difference in the world to read a positive recommendation about a potential setting from an already satisfied customer.
What exactly is a testimonial?
A testimonial, quite simply, is a positive review of the service you provide. It’s a real human opinion that the work you do is of a really good quality. More than that, it is a brilliant affirmation that through your commitment to tiney and to the children in your care, you are making a real difference to the lives of the families you work with!
Here’s a lovely example from our community:
‘Sam is an EYFS specialist with lots of experience in phonics, so the kids really do learn through play, it’s a great approach and my daughter has been happily striding into the house every morning with a cheery wave (no mean feat as she can be shy). Just this week they’ve been decorating gingerbread men, doing sensory play to learn about letters, and learning number sequences using some very festive looking Thanksgiving turkeys and a lot of sparkly bits! Sam even has chickens in her lovely garden which my daughter has been enjoying feeding!
Sam has proved herself to be a great communicator, punctual and helpful in messages and also updating us on everything that’s been going on through her childcare app, with loads of lovely photos and information. She also has a great security system and is very careful with the children in her care, which means I can leave my daughter there knowing she is in very safe hands, and having a great time. I couldn’t ask for more.’
Will it really help me?
Absolutely. As you start to grow your business, often much of your initial time and focus might be spent on the detail of how to make yourself visible to prospective families. This includes making a tiney profile, getting on childcare.co.uk and setting up platforms on Facebook or Instagram. But being visible is only half the story, because just being seen isn’t always enough. You need to aim to also make yourself stand out from the crowd as a trusted, engaging, child-led childcare option. This is where testimonials can make all the difference.
‘Every day we earn trust’. It's right there in our values. We know it’s at the heart of what we do. It’s no exaggeration to say that the key to your future business success will be in no small part down to the positive relationships you build with the existing families you work with. In fact, no one’s opinion about your setting matters more.
‘As a parent, I am completely confident in her care and knowledge, and she put me at ease with her kind, trustworthy and professional manner. I would very much recommend her to anyone looking for childcare.’
So when is a good time to ask a parent for a testimonial?
There would be little point in attempting to get a testimonial from a family that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to build strong foundations with. The aim of these parent snapshots are to provide a positive reflection of the relationships built up between yourself, the child in your care and their adults, and this will only feel authentic after enough time has passed for those relationships to develop and grow.
Parents need to know you, see how you organise yourself professionally and have an insight into the wonderful experiences their child is having daily in your setting, before it would be an appropriate moment to ask.
However, when the moment is right, a testimonial from a trusted, happy parent could very well become one of your strongest marketing tools!
‘My 2 year old toddler started with Amifa nearly a month ago now, and from the very first phone call I had with Amifa I knew she was the right childminder for my little one. From meeting Amifa during the induction and settling in stages, I can see how passionate she is about looking after children. She's so welcoming, funny and full of vibrant energy. Her home is warm, big and well equipped with amazing toys to keep the children happy & stimulated for hours! I instantly felt part of her family.’
As such, when you ask for these, you need to communicate really clearly that you’ll be asking for parental consent to use their words in multiple places and on multiple platforms to grow your business.
What do I need to ask for?
Firstly, be really clear on exactly what it is that you need parents to write for you. Some people may be unsure of exactly what you mean by a testimonial, so it would be helpful to have some examples to hand. Make the point that ideally the comments need to be focused and give examples to back up what is being said. They should feel warm, personal and positive.
Equally, some people may find approaching parents for a testimonial slightly awkward, or may feel uncomfortable that they are asking for direct praise, but please don’t! This type of conversation is healthy for your business - not only will it hopefully lead to some wonderful comments about the work you do, but it will also provide valuable feedback for you to reflect on as you continue to develop and improve your practice and the setting itself.
It also depends on the situation and the type of relationship you have with the parent you speak to. It might be that the parent you approach already has specific positives that they see in your setting they want to highlight. In other cases where you have a trusted relationship with a parent, you might feel they will provide a professional summary of your strengths without any further discussion being needed. You can give some context (that you’d like to have some quotes to potentially use in your marketing), so they know why they are being asked to do it. In some cases, this approach leads to the testimonial being exactly what you need, as it will have come straight from the heart, like the following example:
‘'Mariella is one in a million and her extensive experience is demonstrated in the variety of activities and attention to the boys’ development. Her setting feels like a home from home - the boys don’t look back when they are dropped off which speaks volumes!'
For other parents, you may want to give a little more structure to your request. Be really clear on the purpose. Encourage them to be specific in what they write down. You might well be ‘lovely’ or ‘welcoming’ but prospective parents often need more validation than that if they decide to use your setting. Ask parents to comment on:
Your approach to educating their children
Your learning environment - how you set up and run your home, and the range of experiences on offer indoors and out?
How communicate with them or with their child
If they've noticed any change in their child since they've been at your setting?
If you've supported their child in a particular area of challenge, or if they could pinpoint a moment when they feel you have made a real difference to their child?
How and where to use it
Once you have your testimonial, it’s only the beginning. Make a plan to use it in all your communications and to spread the great news about your setting far and wide. You will already have received the full consent of the parent who wrote it for their words to be republished publicly but you can also ask if they would prefer their name to be anonymised for privacy.
If the testimonial you receive is quite long, consider picking out a key section as a focus. Perhaps use different parts throughout your profile or advertising. In contrast, you might prefer to have the entire thing as a longer section of text within your materials. Just make sure whatever you publish is relevant, sounds professional and is spelling and grammar checked for accuracy.
Then share it wherever you can. This includes your facebook page, your instagram profile, your tiney profile and on pages such as childcare.co.uk. Go onto local forums, pop a poster in a local library. Just make sure the wonderful words about your setting are out there for all to see.
Hearing positive praise about the work you do will no doubt work wonders for your professional confidence and business ambitions. One of our wonderful childminders, Camelia, who has received glowing praise from the families she works with, was kind enough to chat with me recently about the process of getting a testimonial and the impact that receiving them has had on her outlook. I don’t think Camelia could have phrased it any better when she reflected on how the positive comments made her feel and said to me that, ‘This job pays you in so many ways’. Who can ask for more than that?
If you’d like to hear more about testimonials, and Camelia’s experiences of receiving and using them then watch this video:
On a personal and professional level, testimonials are great!
Not only are testimonials a great boost for your business, they also build you up on a professional and personal level too. There is no greater reward than knowing that what you are doing has purpose and is appreciated. That you are making a real difference to children and their families.