Client Interviews Part I: That First Phone Call

There's not one way to skin a cat and I for one have asked many providers for a run through of how their interview process works and taken the "best of" (in my opinion) to create my own client interview process.  The goal is to streamline the process so that I can save time but also cover all important topics in an attempt to "weed out" candidates.  My interview process consists of three parts; 
Part I The First Phone Call, Part II The First In-Person Interview and  Part III a Playdate
Here is how I handle calls from potential clients. 

Initial Call

When I get that first initial call from a potential client I have a few things set up beforehand.  The first thing I did was to create a few documents that I could use to help me through the whole interview process like a call-log, a call script, a rate sheet and an in-person log.  These help me keep my interviews in order so that I can keep the details straight.  I keep these all in a simple inexpensive folder that keeps 3-hole punched papers.  I add some page protectors in and slip my documents inside the page protectors so that I can slip then in and out easier if I need to update them and if I want to write notes on them with dry-erase markers.

Phone Interview Call Log

I personalized my call log to include information that I wanted to know when someone made that first contact call to me:
  • Caller's name and contact information as well as date of call
  • How they heard about my daycare
  • Start date, hours of care and days needed
  • Child's name(s), age(s), birthday(s)
  • Current child care arrangement & reason they're looking for child care
  • Parent employer, location (city), work schedule and time worked
  • On government subsidy?
  • Whether they are on another waiting list
  • Whether they have a back-up provider
  • What their expectations are for child care
  • Interview scheduled with room for date and time
  • A section where I can write my own notes
I have this call log in front of me any time that I get a call from someone interested in information about my daycare and because conversations don't always go in order of my call log I jot down information as the caller is giving it to me.  Usually I get most of the information I need without having to ask for it, then I go back and see what information I still need and ask for it. 

Phone Interview Script

Even though I call it a script this is really a checklist of what I need to go over on the phone.  I use the checklist to quickly cover the important aspects of my daycare ... I think of it like my "sales pitch".  I also cover "non-negotiables", which are the things that I provide that I won't under any circumstances make exceptions for.  It's handy so that I don't forget something that may be an issue later. 
  • Availability, type and age range
  • My fees, how I charge, when they're due, accepted forms of payment
  • Hours and location
  • General information such as how I require a contract and handbook, meals, type of program I provide etc.
  • My non-negotiables

Rate Sheet

I personally have no problem sharing my rates over the phone or posting them on my website.  The reason being that I don't want to waste someone's time going through a phone and in-person interview only to find out at the end that they can't afford my rates.  It also saves me my time.
Because I share my rates on the phone I keep a current rate sheet handy for reference.  I have, in fact, misquoted a client and have given a previous rate because I had forgotten that I had raised my rates a few months prior.  Don't ask me how that happened, but it did.  Now I keep a rate sheet so that I don't make that mistake again. 

Invite Them Back

If the child's age and child care schedule fits in with what I can provide I then invite the caller for an in-person interview.


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