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Ah, millennials.

If you believe the headlines, this generation is responsible for killing everything from diamonds to cable TV. But despite the unfair reputation for being spoiled and entitled, millennial parents are serious about their families.

If you’re ready to separate fact from fiction and figure out what this burgeoning group of parents really wants in a child care provider, get ready. We’re about to debunk the myths and tell you exactly how to attract more millennial parents to your center.

What makes millennial parents different?

Though there’s some debate about exactly who is and isn’t a member of the Gen Y club, most experts agree that a millennial is any person born between 1980 and 2004.

Author and consultant, Mark Prensky coined the term “digital native[s]” to describe millennials as, “native speakers of the digital language,” who think, process and seek information in a way that looks drastically different from previous generations.

And according to research, they even parent differently.

Not exactly your grandma’s child-rearing techniques. In fact, this is a notable switch up even from what’s valued in the slightly older cohort of Gen X parents (who tend to be more hands-on and less active on social media).

So how can you adapt your enrollment strategy to appeal to this unconventional group of parents? Here are a few key tactics to try.

Be inclusive

If you’re expecting millennial-led families to look like a 1950s postcard, you’re in for a surprise.

There are currently between 2 million and 3.7 million children under age 18 who have a parent from the LGBTQ community, and more than one-third of these parents are also from racial or ethnic minority groups. And of course, even in heterosexual couples, equality is big. Millennial dads spend more time with their kids than any other past generation of fathers and most millennial mothers work full time.

Here are a few tips to help show them you get it:

  • Always address both parents or guardians equally
  • Share information on how you promote a spirit of inclusiveness in the classroom
  • Update your social media pages with activities that celebrate diversity and individuality

Give them a sense of work/life harmony

We all know what it feels like to be strapped for time, but there is some evidence to suggest that millennials feel it more.

In fact, 16.8% of millennials evaluate career opportunities according to work/life balance as opposed to traditional measures like pay and benefits. For millennial parents, their children are the most important things in their life. It’s hard to lose that connection for 8-10 hours a day.

Here’s how you can help them achieve a better balance:

  • Communicate proactively to strategize together on what’s best for their children
  • Send photos and videos of their children a couple of times per day or week
  • Always give feedback in a way that’s supportive and diplomatic, never judgmental

Make tech your ace-in-the-sleeve

Millennials are called the “on-demand generation” for a reason. For better or worse, they expect fast answers powered by cutting-edge tech.

And while most preschools and child care centers already know a Facebook page is a must-have, many are still using outdated methods to manage their workflows and communicate with parents. Modern tools like automated electronic billing and a secure instant message center will go a long way in winning the loyalty of this generation, 73% of whom interact with each other more digitally than they do in real life.

Here’s how to exceed their expectations:

  • Make sure your tech is completely secure, mobile-friendly and that it enables real-time updates
  • Use a smart child care app to communicate with parents before they ask
  • Scrap the clunky, outdated tech (or paper-based system) and opt for a tool that feels as natural and fun to use as any other mobile app

Before you set off on your quest to fill your center with awesome millennial families, remember that a sense of connection is extremely important to these parents. Millennials grew up watching traditional structures fall apart and for their kids, the future is anything but certain. Give them a sense of hope and security and you’ll have no problem winning their trust.

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