If you’ve been a visitor to the SchoolAdvancement.com site over the past 10 years or so, you’ll recall that one of its key tenets is to correlate business practices to the world of education in addition to encouraging systems thinking to help solve the problems that linear thinking and process thinking have created.  As for the “business” aspect, I’m sure you’re very familiar with the arguments which coax administrators and board members to one side or the other when the question, “Is your school a business or a ministry,” is put on the table.

The problem with that question is the question itself.  Your school is not a business or a ministry.  In fact, it is a business, and a ministry…and a SCHOOL!  All three – in one.  Inseparable.  And, if your school is centered on Christian values, you should have absolute no problem with something being three in one.

The relation between business practices and the functions of education is demonstrated in this statement:

If Marketing is Education, then Enrollment is Sales.

Too many educational leaders and those involved in assisting schools in their mission (like board members and volunteers) think that great marketing will increase enrollment in a school. If enrollment doesn’t increase, then something’s wrong with the marketing tools, plan or methods. That would make sense if marketing’s goal was indeed to increase enrollment – but it’s not. Marketing’s goal is to increase inquiries to the school.  Converting those inquiries to students in the seats is the goal of effective enrollment processes.

If you’re looking for assistance in your school, you usually look for an expert. If wiring needs to be done for your computer lab, your IT person may request the services of a parent who’s an electrician to help them pull wires through the walls. If financial analysis needs to be done, you may seek out an accountant to audit your school’s financial books. If you need someone to help with your enrollment process, who do you contact? Many schools might seek out an admissions person at a college, but what if your elementary school isn’t connected to a local college or university? It may be beneficial to seek out a successful professional salesperson.

By salesperson, I don’t mean someone who’s at the local hardware store, or someone working in retail. While these are important roles in today’s economy, those type of retail practices are known as “transactional” sales.  Interestingly, it’s these types of individuals that businesses are finding most difficult to find today!  While many reasons have been proffered, the one no one seems to speak about is that today’s college students and young graduates who normally fill these positions have been told at their two graduation experiences that they are, “The leaders of tomorrow.”  If that message rings true, it may be helpful to know that students today don’t think of “tomorrow” as 10 or 15 years into the future.  To them, tomorrow is quite literally tomorrow.  College students have corporate internships that turn into job offers.  With work from home opportunities as well as learn from home opportunities, going to work in a retail store or restaurant, isn’t in their realm of potential revenue sources.  They’re more apt to think of developing an app or opening an online business.  They are so comfortable with technology that they’ve gone beyond “WFH” (work from home) to WFA (work from anywhere).  If they are expected to learn online, then they’re certainly able to work and earn money online.

Back to the sales professional who can help you with your enrollment, or “sales,” process, the type of sales professional I’m referring to will usually be an insurance representative, a car sales professional, or a business-to-business sales executive. What do these people know about educational theory, pedagogy, scaffolding and metacognition? Probably nothing…but neither does the electrician or accountant. These people know that there is a process to follow for successful sales. Tenacity, product knowledge, competitive awareness, overcoming objections and supreme confidence are just five of the many qualities required of the successful salesperson, and these are qualities that someone at your school must have today when they’re dealing with parents who are looking at enrolling their children in your educational environment and will be expected to pay four or five-figure sums for the privilege.

As with any system, there are five components that are necessary for enrollment success: The specified qualities mentioned above, a tool to track prospects and progress, a follow-up process, a way to determine goals, and someone to coordinate the enrollment process.  The next three Enrollment articles will focus on these elements – one in September, one in October, and then the remaining three in November.  If you’d like to receive notification when these articles are published, then consider joining the SchoolAdvancement Group on Facebook to receive a link to each article the day after it’s published.  These will help you develop the systems thinking (ST) necessary to fortify a faith-based school’s financial foundation today!

If you’ve been a frequent visitor or past subscriber to the site or The DREAM eNewsletter (which was discontinued a few months ago), you may have noticed that many of the articles repeat either annually or every five years (with updates, of course).  That’s because you, as well as your school, are at a different “place” at any particular time.  A published article may not be relevant to your situation, but a few years later, the same article may be just the reminder you need for a certain situation you’re facing.  And today, enrollment is top of mind for EVERY school.  Their continued existence depends on it!