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Kris Murray

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Last weekend I attended a really cool fundraiser, called Spellebration, in nearby Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  Teams of four adults gathered in costume to compete in an old-fashioned spelling bee, all to raise money for literacy.  I learned some really cool and little-known words which I’ll share with you in a minute.  But since March is “National Literacy Month”, it got me thinking about ways you can use holidays (including “oddball holidays”) to promote your early childhood program, and increase community goodwill and word of mouth.
In fact, this idea of tying your marketing and in-center events to fun holidays is one of the best strategies we teach for breaking through the clutter and gaining attention from your prospective customer families.  Holiday Marketing is featured as winning Strategy #73 in my top-rated book –  The 77 Best Strategies to Grow Your Early Childhood Program.  When you integrate holidays into your marketing message and special offers, it works because people take notice, they like to be amused and entertained, and it often matches what people are thinking about already.
For example, at Super Bowl time, the country is abuzz with Super Bowl hype and water-cooler conversations.  So why not capitalize on what everyone is already talking about, and integrate some type of fun Super Bowl-related promotion into your school marketing calendar?  Even better, get your teachers or after-schoolers to all wear their favorite football jerseys and put the group photo on your social media pages, along with a mention of your Super Bowl tuition special.
You may be celebrating the more traditional holidays, such as Dr. Seuss’s recent birthday on March 2, but the calendar is chock full of what I call “oddball holidays”.  For example, how fun would it be to celebrate “Children’s Book Week” in mid-May or “Talk Like a Pirate Day” on September 19.  And don’t forget one of my favorites, “National Chocolate Chip Day” on May 15!  Another cool idea is to write about holidays and ways for families to celebrate them on your blog (as I am here) or in your parent newsletter.  You can easily find related blog content and tie it into your own blog, or comment on what you find online.  Check out TechMama’s blog on “5 Ways to Celebrate National March into Literacy Month” for more ideas.
Finally, since I’m kind of a dork and I love unusual words, I thought I’d share a few of the new favorites I learned at the Spellebration last weekend.  Have you ever used any of these in a real-life sentence?  Take the “new word challenge” with me and see if you can use these in a sentence conversationally, during the month of March…National Literacy Month!
Take My Word Challenge!
Fun Words I Learned at Last Weekend’s Spelling Bee:
Psittacine: of or relating to parrots. “That bird sure is a beautiful psittacine species.”
Doppelganger: a look-alike or double of a living person, sometimes portrayed as a paranormal phenomenon, and in some traditions as a harbinger of bad luck. “Who is your celebrity doppelganger?”
Azimuth: the angle between the north vector and the perpendicular projection of the star down onto the horizon. “I wonder what the azimuth of Orion’s left shoulder star is?”
Balmacaan: a loose, full overcoat with raglan sleeves. “That’s a very attractive balmacaan you’re sporting today.”
Escritoire: a small writing desk with drawers and compartments. “I found a fabulous used escitroire at the local antique shop.”
Have fun with oddball holidays, and please leave me a comment below if you are so inspired!
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I’d like to talk about something that’s a little bit more heartfelt that relates to your emotion and energy.  
Most of the time we focus on tactical strategies, ideas and tips and we don’t address the topic of Mindset.  Every now and then it’s important to revisit what’s going on in your minds. The difference between people who get the results they want in their lives and those that are on the ‘hamster wheel, those that never quite get there, is usually 90% related to mindset.  The mindset will stop you from doing what we teach….you aren’t implementing, you can’t delegate,  you are stuck in over-drive, confused, afraid or overwhelmed.  This is what’s going to keep you from achieving the success you want. It’s not the next shiny marketing object or hiring the best director.

It’s this list….the 22 Emotions

And I’ll begin with Gratitude /Joy/Love.  When you are feeling these, you are emanating vibrational energy that is at the highest human possibility. People can feel when you are in this place.

Passion                                             Disappointment
Enthusiasm/Eagerness                  Doubt
Positivity/ Belief                              Worry
Optimism                                         Blame      
Hopefulness                                    Discouragement
Contentment                                   Anger
 Boredom                                         Revenge
Pessimism                                        Hatred/Rage
Frustration/Irritation                     Jealousy    
Overwhelm                                      Guilt/Unworthiness
                FEAR – Despair/Powerlessness

At the juxtaposed top and bottom of your energy, you’ve got Gratitude/ Joy and Love v.s. fear. What I’d like you to do, is to check in with yourself. Think about when you are in overwhelm mode or facing fear and you get completely paralyzed, unable to take any action on all the good stuff to become successful in your business.

What do you do to get out of the fear?  My antidote, and I’ve used this quite a few times on stage, is to figure out small baby steps to get rid of the fear…


How do you act in the face of fear? Pick some things that you are passionate about or excited about . What little things can you do to get you closer to your goal,  getting you past the things you are afraid? It may as simple as getting a marketing campaign on social media. Pull together your team, acknowledge the fear in getting this project off the ground and just by doing this, you’ve taken action towards getting “un-stuck”.

So check in with this list and yourself to get some clarity about your energy, your productivity and level of emotion. If you are stuck in Overwhelm or Frustration, you won’t be able to accomplish nearly as much if you are operating from a place of Gratitude, Joy and Passion.

When you do get in the negative zone, as we all can do…sit back, take a shift and take a few minutes to remind yourself what you are grateful for. This little exercise can take you away from that place of fear.

Remember, when you are operating from the top of the list – the attraction zone – you are rocking from your good energy zone.
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What I Learned from Taylor Swift....

Shake it off, shake, shake, shake it off….. just kidding.

I’ve always been a huge T Swift fan. I think I own all of her CD’s. Yes, even in this day and age, I went to the store and bought 1989… and listened to it… more than once. And while I am a huge fan of boyfriend payback, that’s not the reason I listen to her music. I fully support Taylor Swift because of the person and role model she is.

She has branded herself as a genuine and good person, and I like that.

Jessica Profile Photo Small 2

This image was and is, I’m sure hard to maintain. Taylor’s most recent publicity, her letter to Apple, is a shining example of Taylor’s genuinely kind and respectful spirit. If you haven’t read the letter you can read it here. I’ll paraphrase in case you don’t have time for that:

Apple has started a new streaming service called Apple Music. Because it’s a little behind on this service, it is offering a Free 3 Month Trial to users. In that 3 month trial Apple had planned NOT to pay any of the artists or producers for their music….

…Enter T Swift.                                             Taylor Swift

In Taylor’s ridiculously respectful letter, she first compliments Apple and tells them how much she respects them as a company. Then she restates the problem as she understands it. She notes that she still respects Apple, but this particular decision she is not a fan of.  Finally she explains her decision to pull her latest CD (previously mentioned 1989) from Apple.

In her letter she clearly states she is not affected by Apple’s poor business move, but it impacts her colleagues and friends and because she has the ability financially and otherwise, she will pull her music, because other artists really can’t afford to.

She ends her letter with “we do not expect you to give us free iPhones, you should not expect us to give you our music for free.”

BAM. Apple overturned their decision immediately.

So why am I telling you all of this?
Because every day you  deal with “exceptions to the written rule” and I want to empower you to respectfully hold your ground on behalf of staff and parents who are not “squeaky wheels.” Just like Apple tried to make an exception to their agreement that they would pay artists for their music. Taylor Swift was an advocate for who didn’t have the power to stand up to the large music company.

I’m asking you to be an advocate for those who abide by the rules. Do not give in to parents or staff who want to ignore the policies they signed.

Use T Swift’s letter as your outline:
Be Ridiculously Respectful
Compliment on past and normal behavioral “We appreciate that you do pick up on time 99% of the time.”
Explain that even if your business is not effected, others might be – “In all the $20 is not going to put this school under, however, for our teachers who work really hard that 20 minutes might have put them in a bind, we do enforce our late fee to discourage any parents from having this happen as routine.”
Explain that you would not put them in a similar situation – “We would never close 20 minutes early and put you in a position to pay for extra care.”
Do not let this interaction affect anything in the future.
Swift really killed Apple with kindness to the point where she wasn’t mad at Apple, she was disappointed. Disappointment really affects people more than anger or annoyance. As a kid, my parents could be really mad at us and that was normal, but on the rare occasion that they said they were disappointed in us…. man that was heart wrenching.

Even if you aren’t on the T Swift  band wagon, you’ve got to give her credit, we can learn a lot from her genuine approach and sticking up for those who can’t, won’t, or don’t feel they’re able to stick up for themselves.

I mean you really don’t want Bad Blood……… (sorry I just couldn’t resist).

 ~Jessica Johnsen
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Ahhhhh the lazy days of summer. Summer is my favorite season and because I pine for it all year, I never, ever complain about heat – nope, I save my weather complaints for when the negative temperatures bite my face. Each winter I ask myself, “why do I live somewhere that hurts my face?” I realize not everyone’s favorite season is summer, but evidently it’s a popular one because this is the time when we all gear up for, or dread, vacation.

This past week, I have had 2 friends tell me they almost hate taking vacation because they get calls from work, or they are way behind when they get back. Been there! Oh the calls and texts we get from work that rip us out of vacation mindset. They can make us feel missed and important.

I remember one time I was gone for a day at a funeral, I didn’t get any calls or texts and I felt sad that no one noticed I was gone — WHAT?

If you are a leader and your staff can’t operate without you, I’d argue you’re more of a manager. As a leader you should model taking time away with no interruptions, you know, unless the building is burning. You shouldn’t have yourself so bottle necked that your staff can’t make decisions or continue with work until they hear from you. And above all, if your staff takes vacation you should NOT let anyone contact them.

I know it’s hard, you have to find coverage, Jonny handed her yesterday’s artwork and no one can find it now, we can’t remember what Billy’s mom said about his rash…. And of course inevitably someone else calls out short notice. he idea is to come together as a team. Plan ahead and encourage staff to take vacation. It’s not too late for this summer and fall.

Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

• Send out an email laying out everyone’s vacation. Let staff members who haven’t scheduled vacation know when good times would be for them to take off.

• Ask everyone to be respectful of those who are not in the center by not calling in and leaving everyone short staffed and by waiting to ask questions until the staff member is back.

• Provide a “While I’m Gone” document for staff to lay out ahead of time, so teachers subbing have all the information they need.

• Have vacation days expire each year to encourage staff to take time they need.

• Have a bunch of kids gone on short notice? – let staff know they can take a short notice day!

• Send staff members off to vacation with a small bonus, gift card, or hand written note.

• Recommend fun local places to go on weekends.

• Have a summer floater staff member for specifically covering vacations.

• Combine same age classrooms for a day and give each teacher half a day.

Time away from work is so beneficial for the mind and soul, only if the stresses of work aren’t distracting your employees from truly relaxing. There is nothing worse than knowing you’re leaving your team short-handed or in a bind. It takes away from the point of a vacation — to unwind and recharge. If done correctly, your staff should come back from time away rejuvenated and ready to take on the world… too much? Ok, they should at least come back remembering why they love their job and working for such a fabulous organization. I will talk to you all when I get back from the lake!

See more free tips to grow your child care enrollment and manage your child care better at Child Care Marketing Blog. 
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My junior coach, Jessica Johnsen, is a millennial. She is NOT your stereotypical millennial, however, she did grow up as part of the sticker generation. She says she got a sticker for turning in a paper and a trophy for showing up.

Do I think that’s right or fair? Doesn’t matter, it happened. (Just for the record, she is not personally behind that philosophy, but it STILL doesn’t matter.)  Her generation was “positively rewarded” or “incentivized” for doing what we all should do anyways. It’s really just extrinsic motivation and we all see it and do it every day.

This is why Incentive Programs in business environments are becoming so popular. We often get the question “why should we reward people for doing what they should do in the first place?”

I couldn’t agree more, when you hire someone to do a job, they should do that job for the agreed upon price. However, often after we hire someone all of the “and other duties as apply” section of the job description becomes bigger than the actual job.

If you are working with millennials who have already been classically conditioned to expect a reward for doing what we should do, those extra duties are the things that start to build resentment and de-motivation.

Incentive Programs are often a great way for management to reward employees for those extra tasks that their job description technically does in include. They also motivate staff to do those things with a smile on their face.

However, if incentive programs are not planned out effectively they can have adverse effects on your outcome as well as your culture. Here are some guidelines to follow when designing your incentive program:

Make it clear that no one will be penalized for not participating. Incentives should reward those for going above and beyond, but for those employees who are content with their salary and want to focus on the core tasks they were hired for, that’s fine. Set clear expectations.
Let your employees know the reason why you want them to do what you are offering incentives for them to do. I.E. if they participate on the tour, and the tour enrolls, they get a percentage of registration. You are doing this because teacher participation helps get the parent to enroll.
Make sure it doesn’t encourage competition if you claim to value team work. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. Just be cautious that everyone has the chance to earn the same incentives, for the same tasks.
Incentive Programs have been widely adopted and are successful in many business organizations, including Child Care.  They can be a great motivator as well as a way of showing appreciation for those workers who go above and beyond for you everyday.

Please make sure to check out our blog for more free tips and information to grow your child care business. 
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Jolene Conigliaro, winner of Kris Murray’s Marketer of the Year Contest, tells her story of success at the Child Care Success Summit and explains how working with Kris Murray gave her the tools she needed to take her Child Care Business to the next level. Jolene became the director in 2005, within 2 years she took over the business, doubled the licensing capacity, enrolled in a food program, and took part in her state accreditation, receiving the highest star rating in her county.

Jolene was proud of her accomplishments and jokes she thought she “knew everything” at that point. Two beliefs Jolene was operating under were:

  You will never make any money operating a child care business
  Directors should be working IN the business.

Sound familiar? How many of you are operating under those very same beliefs?

Then Jolene found Kris Murray, and learned those very beliefs were actually crippling her business. After just one call with Kris, Jolene realized she did not have the data she needed to run a successful center.

Kris invited Jolene to join our Gold Core Program, which is part of the Child Care Success Academy. Jolene admits she was “terrified!” She was worried about whether or not she could afford it. After sitting down with her business partner, Jolene found she couldn’t afford NOT to work with Kris. She had taken the business as far as she could on her own.

Jolene’s first event was attending Child Care Success Academy’s live Gold Mastermind Meeting, Jolene was inspired by Kris and the other owners in the room. Jolene now had a huge vision, but would her team be on board?! Jolene was relieved to know that once she shared her vision, her team was on board.

From May – Nov, Jolene received 39 phone calls, she had 31 come in and tour, and of those 31 tours 30 enrolled in her center! That’s a 97% closing rate!!!

During Jolene’s very first phone call with Kris she realized she was leaving $67,000 on the table a year – now she is 100% full!
Jolene is now working on opening her second center. Through working with Kris, Jolene has realized that SHE can run a successful and profitable program that offers quality care.

- See more at:
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How To Use Visual Evidence To Market Your Child Care:

Demonstrations can serve as powerful marketing tools for your child care center. Demonstrations are pieces of visual evidence that will set you apart from other caregivers in your area and will help establish you and your child care program as trustworthy.

Here are a few great ways to incorporate demonstrations into your child care marketing campaign:

1. Create a powerful demonstration by installing a flat panel TV screen in your lobby and playing photos and videos of children participating in the previous week’s classroom activities. When families come in for a tour they will be captivated by this and will see the fun things that are happening in your classrooms. Learn more about other ways to use videos in your marketing here. This demonstration also serves to remind your existing parents and staff of the fun that is taking place in your center. This is a wonderful way to establish your school as a high quality, fun, and caring environment the moment someone walks through your doors.

2. Another great demonstration is a one page flyer or marketing piece that lists the names of your teachers, their education, the number of years of experience in early childhood education they have, how long they have been working for you, and a short testimonial or interesting personal fact about them. You can include this sheet in your prospect packet and hand this information to your families during the tour. When you have a piece of paper that highlights why your teachers are wonderful it is powerful and will increase your credibility in the minds of your prospects. Post this demonstration on your website as well, so that families searching online for child care will see how amazing the teachers are at your school.

3. You should also make it a priority to market the characteristics of your program that are special and unique. You can do this by creating demonstrations highlighting these qualities. For example my very first client, the TLC Academy in Hudson, Ohio, wanted to advertise that they had much lower child to teacher ratios than the state requirements. We created a table illustrating TLC’s ratios compared to those of the state, provided it to potential clients, and posted it online. They still use it today and it is located on their website under “Unique Benefits”. Visually demonstrating that you have a 1:3 ratio in your infant room compared to the state’s 1:6 is very compelling and not only sets you apart from your competition with numbers but also illustrates the unique philosophy of your program. I hope these tips will help you brainstorm some different ways to incorporate powerful visual demonstrations into the marketing materials for your school! - See more at:
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What Every Child Care Owner Ought To Know About Answering The Phone.

I’ve found that the phone is often not a well-loved component of childcare, sometimes it’s even hated. It’s often seen as an after-thought for owners to check on their manager’s phone skills, but poor phone practices can be a BIG business problem.

Most owners are not giving enough time and energy to see how their phone is being answered. Answering your phone correctly is a best practice and one of the fastest ways to grow enrollment.

How do you know if this is being done well?

You need to be calling your center to see how your phone is answered. Call at different times of the day and from numbers that are not recognizable. Make sure you are greeted in a friendly and helpful way.

The other big problem I see, along with poor phone skills is 50% of the times I call a child care, I am getting a voice mail, instead of a human. Having a human answer your phone during normal business hours is a must.

If you want, you can have a very simple phone tree (dial 1 for_____, dial 2 for ______ or just stay on the line), but your caller needs to be able to reach a person within 30 seconds. If you don’t have that you are throwing away $75-$100 every time someone doesn’t get through. That approximately how much money you are spending through marketing to get your phone to ring.

Why is this so important? Because it’s all about trust. Do I want to send my child to a place where I can’t get through during normal business hours? No! If parents are going to a voice mail during normal business hours I would guess that HALF of your prospects are hanging up.

One cool idea for after hours, when you should have a voice mail is to make the voice mail extra FUN. One of my personal favorites is one our clients whose after-hour message is really cute “Thanks for calling Future Leaders Academy, the home of future doctors, lawyers, teachers and presidents. We look forward to welcoming you into our program.” That is a personality driven message that is so cute it compels the parent to leave a message.

Remember your phone is one of your #1 ways to build enrollment – give it a little love!
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Want to learn how to stand out in the child care market? Well we just released our second brand new training video where I'll show you how to get noticed by a good way!
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Someone at the Child Care Success Summit 2014 is going to win $1000 and a trip to Crested Butte, CO to get one on one coaching and be able to enjoy this awesome mountain town (where I live)! Who will be our Marketer of the Year? Congrats to finalists Darlene Bartlett, Jolene Conigliaro, & Scott Lieberman!
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