- Amy is a preschool owner and entrepreneur who lives in Illinois, USA, and opened The Ivy Academy in 2011
- The preschool was busy but the back office team was spending a large portion of their time typing up enrollment information, chasing up parents to sign consent forms, and playing email ping-pong to book a parent tour for the school
- 1DA automated the Enrollment process, Consent forms, and Parent Tours and integrated the system with her website which freed up a back-office administrator to work on more exciting projects to improve the school.
- Since then Amy and her team have opened up 2 more preschools
The Story of The Ivy Academy
BackgroundWhen we first talked to Amy she was the owner and head of The Ivy Academy preschool and daycare in Elgin, Illinois.
The students and parents were happy and loved the school but Amy really wanted to do more.
She wanted to positively affect as many children and their families as possible.
Amy wasn’t a tech person and didn’t want to deal with any tech.
She liked our approach to identifying the problems and decided to work with us.
Amy’s goal was to open another school in the next 12-24 months, but there were a few challenges she needed to overcome first…
On our initial call, we talked about the 20 year old website and how she thought it was “horrid” and didn’t represent the School’s brand. She was worried it was a bad reflection of the school.
In our discovery phase, we dived deeper into the school’s systems and processes. What we uncovered were 3 issues that were costing the school $24,456 every year.
These issues were preventing her and her team from working on more exciting projects like opening another school.
$24,456 is the price you pay for an experienced school administrator in Illinois.
On average the following 3 issues took up the time of one full-time administrator.
The current enrollment process was long, manual, and error-prone.
Parents were filling these in by hand which meant mistakes were made while staff were re-entering the information on the school’s finance system (ProCare).
It would take between 1-2 hours for a member of the admissions team to help every new parent fill in the forms and re-enter the data.
One of the most time-consuming tasks the team was dealing with was following up with parents to get consent forms signed off. From state regulation forms to medical release forms, there were 9 in total.
On average it took around 2 hours every day of an administrator's time.
Parent ToursNo parent should send their child to a school they haven’t visited themselves. School tours are crucial because it’s where the parent decides if the school is the right fit for their child.
The problem is booking tours were a real pain.
Parents would phone in or email a date and time they would like to visit.
The administrators would drop everything to open up the school’s shared calendar.
If the date and time were available, great! But most of the time it wasn’t so a game of email ping-pong would start until they found a date that worked.
Although scheduling each appointment took between 5-15 minutes, it took the team member “out of flow” from working on their main task.
The Website - Parents can't find usParents searching for terms like “daycares in Elgin” would never find her school.
The site was buried 12 pages deep in a Google search.
If a parent did happen to get to the site they would immediately bounce as the site was not mobile-friendly.
This meant the only way the school was promoting itself was through word-of-mouth, which wasn’t scalable.
Solution - What we delivered
We didn’t just build a responsive site. We built a lead generating machine that automated the following:
Online Enrollment Process
Now, instead of parents coming into the school and taking time away from the admissions team, they would fill in the form from the comfort of their own home from their computer or mobile device.
The parents were now entering their child’s information straight onto the system themselves, which meant fewer errors.
Once the parent filled in the enrollment form they would confirm and sign the document electronically. This would be sent to the parent and admissions team to review.
Consent forms with E-Signatures
No more chasing up parents to get consent forms signed off.
Once a parent successfully enrolled, they would automatically be sent an email with a link to the consent forms online.
Parents now sign the forms online. If the forms have not been signed the parent is emailed a reminder automatically every few days until it is signed off.
Scheduling Parent Tours Online
No more email ping pong trying to find a date and time to visit the school.
We set up a scheduling system on the school’s website that integrated straight into their shared Outlook calendar.
We set specific days and time slots that worked best for the school but also gave enough flexibility for working parents.
Each time slot allowed a maximum of 6 parents to book a tour. This enabled the team to allocate resources appropriately.
New SEO & Mobile Friendly Website
Amy finally got the web presence she could be proud of.
Now parents could actually view the site on their mobiles or tablets.
Because the site was built with search engines in-mind, within a month of going live Google ranked the search term “daycares in elgin” from page 12 to page 3 using the same content.
A flashy mobile-friendly website is great, but the real value in this project came from automating the enrollment system, parent consent forms, and parent tours.
In the end, the project saved time and money ($24K every year) which meant working on more fulfilling projects.
Four year on and Amy has now opened her third school in neighboring areas and is doing well thanks to automating her preschools back office systems.
Preschool teachers are our superheroes!
We’ve worked with 19 preschools and daycares and talked to a lot more.
They all have different issues from retaining staff to universal pre-k to easier ways to fill in child observations.
But there are 3 issues that come up again and again.
- The enrollment process
- Getting back signed packets/consent forms from parents
- Scheduling Tours with parents