May I speak freely for a second? I think that there’s a lot of reactive retention planning going on. I think that there are a lot of studios that get so caught up in the end of the year chaos and the busyness that happens at the end of the year that planning for retention is almost an afterthought.
It gets shuffled down the to-do list after getting certificates printed and planning for a recital and putting on a performance; however, for me, and I know for you as well, the most important thing in our business is that we have as many students as possible return after the summer break.
It is probably the most critical thing that we can concentrate on toward the end of the year, but I feel that many studio owners hope — they hope — that their students are going to return.
Hope is not a strategy!
We can’t rely on that. We want to be as productive and proactive as possible so that we can get as many students over the line and re-enrolled before we even get to summer. My goal for you and your studio is that you have 80 percent of your current students re-enrolled before summer. That way, you’re just catching the last few over the summer break and can do a big push at intake time.
How much more relaxed and confident would you be over summer knowing that you’re coming back to full capacity classes, knowing that you’re going to have the cash flow and even collecting some of that cash flow before summer?
It’s going to take all that pressure off your shoulders. You know, nothing makes a mojito taste sweeter than 80 percent pre-summer re-enrollment. It’s the key!
Here are three strategies to help you maximize your re-enrollment before summer.
Strategy One: Get your timetable out before anyone else.
I want you to have your timetable the first thing that families plan around. If you’re getting your timetable out late, they’re going to be putting you into their schedule and trying to fix around it instead of being the first thing that they lock in and then everything, all the other activities they do, fitting around that.
The earlier the better. I’m talking four to five months before the term starts to have the timetable released.
This can be challenging with teacher availability and not knowing how many classes you’re going to need, but if you can have the essential core of your timetable done, it’s going to position you for the greatest re-enrollment chance by far.
Strategy Two: Start seeding.
Start communicating about re-enrollment much earlier than you usually think. I’d like to encourage you to start planning two, three, four weeks earlier than you have in the past. What you’ll find is because you’ve given yourself more time to communicate, “Next year’s coming, it’s going to be fabulous, we’re going to be doing this, this and this!”, and you give them an invitation to enroll and some impetuous to re-enroll, you’ve given yourself much more of a window for that communication period. More students are going to jump at the chance. You’re going to give yourself so much more of an advantage.
A lot of studios leave it to the last minute to sign up for next year, and then they’re desperate and people can smell it, like fear. You want to avoid that by giving yourself as much time and as much planning around this re-enrollment as possible.
Strategy Three: Law of social proof.
This is one of my absolute favorite strategies. It’s magical. This is to use the law of social proof.
You want to grab all your parents together, all your students together and give them the opportunity to make the decision together. What you’ll find is this: Jenny’s mom will say, “I think we’re going to do Tuesday at 4pm!” And then Amber’s mom looks over and says, “Oh, so you’re going to do Tuesday at 4pm? Oh we’ll do it, too.”
What you’ll find is that they start encouraging each other. They do all the work for you. What we do know about running a studio is that the greater the sense of connection and the greater friendship we have in the studio, this is what keeps the kids super glued to your studio.
Helping them make that decision to stay together is going to be such a phenomenal asset to your re-enrollment statistics. Not only that, but it creates a lovely sense of community, so it’s a great idea to use the law of social proof to help boost enrollment in your studio.
Again, hope is not a strategy.
So, if you’re looking for a little bit more of a concrete plan on how to re-enroll your students and build retention in your studio, I’ve recorded one of my most popular trainings. It’s called Ramp Up Retention.
Ramp Up Retention will walk you through how to set up a retention plan in your studio. It’s 60 minutes long, you can grab a cup of tea, and you can watch it straight away right now by clicking the link below.
This will walk you through the biggest mistakes studios are making with retention and how to avoid them so you can plug those little holes of retention in your studio.
How many weeks in advance do you normally start beginning your re-enrollment process? Three weeks, four weeks, six weeks? Connect with other studio owners and post your answer in the comments below.
By Chantelle Bruinsma Duffield, Studio Strategist at StudioExpansion.com.