When it comes to retention, parent satisfaction is essential. Whether through SurveyMonkey or casual conversations, you should have your finger on the pulse of the majority of parents at your school. Moms (and Dads and Grandparents, too) must be satisfied with the experience at your school or they will not re-enroll their kids. Simple truth you already know. But are you intentionally doing anything about it?
In our new course, “RETENTION: Keeping Your Best”, we offer 5 mini-courses on topics of retention, including how to include teachers in on the retention game, how run a re-enrollment campaign, and we give you a host of practical and actionable tips that you can implement right away in your intentional retention efforts.
The following tips are part of the large “39 Retention Tips” report that will accompany this premium course. The report breaks down retention into 13 different categories of retention so that your retention specialist/champion/coordinator will have a guide for being giving INTENTION and ATTENTION to your RETENTION!
In the area of working to ensure parents are understanding the value they are receiving, here are a few tips:
- Give authentic open door access to your administration. While some parents can be know-it-alls and even high-maintenance nuisances, most parents simply want to know that they are treated as investors who want value for what they sow into your school. Host regularly scheduled coffees each month with the Headmaster, invite parents to hear from the Head of School via a podcast each week or some other venue where the parents know they can ask questions, express frustrations and catch and repeat the vision that the administration has for the school.
- Offer consistent “attaboys” to the parents about things that their children are doing well on and off campus. Certainly on-campus achievements in athletics or arts is worthy of acknowledgement, but do no underestimate the handwritten note to a dad about their son’s character in the classroom. Moms and dads beam with pride when others recognize their kids’ goodness on display. Look for these, and create a culture where teachers, coaches and staff are on the lookout for reasons to offer praise.
- In addition to (or in lieu of), offer parents bite-sized communication pieces that showcase value and excellence. Parents of lower school students need to see the value that parents of middle schoolers are receiving and how well your graduates are scoring on the SAT and in merit-based scholarships. Parents of elementary kids need regular reminders that smaller class size makes a palatable difference. When competing with free public schools (where a lot of elementary schools are strong), you have to showcase value frequently.
- 20% of your parent pool will do 80% of the work, but work to shift this by seeking year-round jobs for all moms, dads and grandparents. It is frequently frustrating to ask for volunteers and not get anyone, thus, the default is to do it yourself. But if you solely rely on paid staff, you will not only burn out your staff, you will leave out families who need a reason to stay. Keep asking, be creative in the job descriptions and create a culture where each parent has a place to belong and feel needed.
- Especially important is to to note the “fence-sitting” families who you have doubts about their level of long-term commitment. Even if you have some high-maintenance families that always love to complain before they congratulate you, invite these individuals to participate in a “school improvement” committee where they have a platform to constructively express frustrations and suggest changes. Your committee can admit that not never idea would be implemented, but if you can allow a place of participation and look for tangible ideas to improve the school experience for everyone, you will turn these individuals into raving fans!
- Create specific family pages on your website that allow specific ambassador families to tell their story. Create unique videos, audio testimonials and written reviews from this family that other current families can relate to. Certainly a great recruiting tool, but these stories, placed on specific pages that these families can post on social media, are reinforcement for established families.