Barrier 5 Anxiety around special educational needs and food allergies. Perception is everything 

Are your staff team unwittingly losing you business because of the way they speak to school staff or anxious parents? The manner in which these people are dealt with can make or break a booking. I have seen this happen many times.

School staff and some parents will want to speak with you about their child’s special needs, food allergies or emotional situation. They may be highly anxious. How they feel you have treated them will be spread across the school community at lightning speed! You have one chance to ensure this message is positive. What can you do to help them overcome their anxieties? How can you make them feel that you can safely care for their child?

If you can win the heart of the anxious parent, it is likely you will impress the school and this is very likely to result in additional future visits.

How you can help

  • When dealing with the person enquiring about the booking always be warm, friendly, interested and flexible. 
  • Ensure the teacher who is making the enquiry feels listened to. There is nothing worse than talking to a person who is in a rush, not really interested or who sounds a bit miserable. The staff and pupils want to come to your venue to learn and have fun. Make sure whoever answers the phone is trained to do so and present the public face of your business.
  • Be flexible, especially with special educational needs provision. Make whatever reasonable adjustments you can to help adapt your venue to the needs of your customers.  For example, a venue we have worked with won a school over by simply offering to turn off the hand dryers in one of their toilets and provide paper towels when they discovered one of their pupils had heightened sensitivity to the noise of the hand dryer. The school and the pupil’s family were over the moon and plan to return in the future. 
  • Don’t minimise or be dismissive when discussing potential challenges such as food allergies, disabilities or anxieties of certain pupils. Saying something like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s fine, we’ve done this many times before, there’s never a problem’ doesn’t help! Staff need to feel that you have listened carefully to their concerns and really understand what could go wrong. Reassure them, ask their advice and make sure they know you have taken on board everything they have said. 
  • Always do what you say you will. If you promise to get back to them by the end of the next day, make sure you do. If they can’t trust you with the small things, they won’t trust you with the big ones!

Remember that the school staff are specialist who really know these children and are often highly trained. They will want to work in partnership with you.

We can train your team to actively listen and reassure anxious customers. We are the experts in helping you adapt your offer to attract more school visitors to your site. Our team is made up of currently serving teachers and school leaders. Contact us if you would like to know more about how we can help.

Our next blog – Time barriers and how you can help