When we discuss with Christian schools about the “3 Rs of School Marketing”, everyone agrees that while recruiting to increase enrollment is important (but costly), it is the school’s retention efforts that are often the most neglected area of attention. We all know that it costs more to find/nurture/lead a new family to apply than to retain a current one. Yet, it is often the area most neglected.
We curate some great ideas on retention on our Pinterest board:
Follow Randy’s board Retention: Private Schools on Pinterest.
Here are 3 practical ideas I have found on the idea of retaining families and curtailing attrition (yes, we can get ideas from businesses who need to also retain customers):
- Organize a private Facebook group: invite 10, 20, or 30 of your best “ambassadors” who are active on Facebook. When you post something to your school’s Facebook page, you put a quick note into that private group and remind everyone to like, comment and share it on their personal profiles. If your head of school just launched a new podcast, if your Admissions Director just announced a new Open House or if your Head Volleyball coach just announced that one of your seniors signed on with a prestigious college, then this group is notified immediately. This is an online extension of the network you are building face-to-face. BONUS READ: “Creating Raving Fans and Parent Ambassadors“
- Put them on video: with smartphones providing such great video quality, it is easier and easier to capture parent testimonials. To ensure this process is as efficient as possible, ask the family to provide a brief script of what they will say. Ask them to answer 3 questions: (1) what was your frustration with the school environment you were at before, (2) what was the most significant person/activity that has impacted your son/daughter, and (3) what are the obvious benefits/results you are seeing. When families have to spend an evening thinking through these questions, this solidifies their commitment to your school. BONUS READ: “9 Tips For A Successful Retention Program“
- One-on-One interview with leadership: consider targeting families who you know are “fence-sitters” and invite them to a one-on-one coffee/lunch with the head of school. Nothing says “you are important here” than to have a face-to-face with the leadership. Start having conversations that ignite a reputation for being truly open and honest. Fence-sitters have complaints, gripes and questions about the value they are investing. They cannot always be appeased, but listening to their concerns (without judgment, pushback or correction) means they are heard. BONUS: The TV show, “Undercover Boss”, shows the importance of humble leaders who listen to the needs of its people. BONUS READ: “Cultivating Loyal Ambassadors“
Listen to episode #29 of the School Marketing Podcast where we talk about retention strategies:
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