Stay Open!

This week’s entry starts another round of the five elements of advancement – Asset Management, Retention, Marketing, Enrollment and Development.  It’s easy to remember the ARMED acronym those five elements create.

Since summer is here for many schools, and just around the corner for a few others, let’s start off this round of 5 articles with marketing, answering the question, “How do we market our schools during the summer?”

For a number of schools, the answer may, unfortunately, be, “Badly.”

There was a phrase I heard 25 or so years ago when I was in the radio industry: “If a shark stops swimming, it dies.”  With that in mind, does your school “close” during the summer?  Do the activities at your school completely “stop?” Does it completely shut down in July so that everyone has four weeks to themselves before ramping it back up in August again? If so, you could be losing potential parents that are moving into your area.

Don’t think that people are moving in? In difficult economic times, some parents leave to pursue new job opportunities, but some parents actually move to your school’s market for the same reason!  Some parents may have to move in with their parents in order to weather the storm – yet they still want their children to go to a Catholic school. If your school office is closed, you’ll miss these phone calls and requests for a tour.

In turbulent economic times, companies transfer employees to new job locations.  Company transfers are done during the summer to coincide with fiscal years that begin in July, and to not disrupt children during the school year. If your school is closed, you’ll miss their phone call and request for a tour.

There may be people who are relocating from California or New England back East to where housing is more affordable. If you’re closed, you’ll miss their phone call and request for a tour.

Do you see a pattern developing?

What about requests for more information?  You might get those, but most parents today make contact with your school initially by visiting your school’s responsive, fresh and inviting Web site.  Most schools not only shut down for a month, they also don’t update their Web sites during the summer…and that’s definitely NOT a “Best Practice.”

Summer can even be a time for your school to generate additional revenue!!  It can offer special July seminars in computer applications to students and parents – Access on Mondays, Word on Tuesdays, Excel on Wednesdays, PowerPoint on Thursdays. Perhaps teach parents how to use new apps to organize their email on their iPad or Android tablet.  Sure, parents may not have a computer at home, but the public library does, and while the tablet craze seems to be levelling off,  the mobile device market keeps growing exponentially!  These courses can generate some extra income for you, and quash the “but we don’t have a computer” argument when your school policies require every family to have an email address.

If your school is looking to increase enrollment in order to remain open, then staying available by remaining open during the summer will help you, well, remain open.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2006-2017