Even though the new school year has begun, signs posted on roadsides alert parents that “It’s not too late to enroll your child.” Many schools aren’t shy about accepting students, but what do you say when a parent says, “May I bring my child in for a visit tomorrow?” Once you get beyond the mask conversation (if that’s happening in your area), some school administrators still cringe at the question.
The proposed day might be full of lively activities, the principal has staff evaluations scheduled, or (a scary but understandable trend) the principal may be filling in for a teacher tomorrow. Additional spontaneous events may occur (otherwise known as chaos in the lunchroom) while a parent is visiting – which is something you don’t necessarily want a parent of a prospective student to witness. Other schools might need a bit tidying up (and if it’s like my daughter’s room when she was growing up, it needs more tidying up after its been tidied up!). Visitors who do so on short-notice would see the school in a less-than-perfect state.
If this is the case, then make it a practice to have some time each week to have a standing widely-publicized invitation to students and families to come and visit your school. You can hold these weekly open houses at different times and on different days during the week to accommodate as many schedules as possible. If a parent can make it to one of these events, then it’s already on the calendar and proper preparations can be made. If a parent cannot, you can offer another time that is mutually convenient. This approach, however, shows the parent that you are being proactive by offering multiple opportunities for personal visits. If a parent realizes this, and discovers that there is no time that meets their needs, it may help to parent to begin to rethink their priorities as well.
Remember, this is only the start of getting more children into your school. The real work starts after the visit when you follow-up with those parents. If you just thought, “We don’t really follow-up a lot…we just hope they enroll their children,” you also need to rethink your priorities, and begin to use enrollment strategies. They’re a lot like sales strategies. In fact, they are sales strategies.
Marketing is education, and enrollment is sales. If you’d like to find out more, drop an email to email@example.com, and use the word “Follow Up Methodology” in the subject line.
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2006-2021 (Original Publication Date: 20060918)