How do you talk about your school?  Pick “A” or “B,” and pay particular attention to how the word “only” is used:

A) “We only have 150 students this year, and next year, it looks like we’re only going to have 135.”

B) “We only have room for 300 students, and time is running out! Call today to make sure your children have secured their place for next year’s exciting educational experiences!”

Today’s parents, especially those with young children, are not deadline-oriented. With the immediacy of the Internet, many feel they have the ability to make whatever arrangements are necessary in a limited amount of time. Further, since many parents are members of the “Me” Generation, and parents of children in the primary grades are Millennials, they believe that exceptions will be made for them, even if they miss the deadline.

Need proof? If you’re not using a tuition management partner like FACTS, and tell families their tuition payment is due by the 10th of the month, do most parents:
A) Pay their tuition before the 10th;
B) Make sure that the payment arrives at the school on the 10th;
C) Pay their tuition a couple of days later, or write the check on the 10th then mail it or ask their children to take it to school (where it sometimes stays at the bottom of their backpack) – hint: with the pandemic, this really isn’t an option any more.  If you’re school is still in “bring the check to school” mode, we need to talk;
D) Pay their tuition sometime before the end of the month, because, after all, the school has to understand that I have other bills to pay; or
E) Don’t pay their tuition by the end of the month and carry a balance to the next month?

A good number of parents fall into the C, D, or E categories if the school is billing and accepting payments on their own, rather than using actively managed payment plans to give parents payment reminders, follow-up missed payments, automatically deposit cleared funds to the school’s bank account, receive real-time reporting, and, above all, provide payment security to mitigate the risk that comes with accepting payments at the school.

This “only” technique is also being employed by many airline booking sites. If you’re planning a trip, and want to fly from your closest city to your destination, many times you’ll see “Only 3 more seats left at this price!” to help motivate you to commit to purchasing a ticket. Notice, however, that it says nothing about what happens next. In other words, after those three seats are sold, the expectation is the remaining seats, if any, will be more expensive.

If you don’t want to employ this technique with the whole school, try it with your most full classroom, as in, “Only 4 desks remain for the 21-22 school year in Grade 5!”

If you want to try this to see what happens, you’d better hurry, because for many schools, there are only 3 months left before next year’s exciting educational experiences begin!

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2006-2021 (Original Publication Date: 20060213)