As summer gets underway, here’s something to think about to grow your enrollment. Actually, many schools do this already – offer a “finder’s fee” for new students.

Capitalizing on the axiom “Parents talk to parents,” good “buzz” about your school from parents that lead to other parents enrolling their children can be rewarded. Some schools give $100 in cash, some give gift cards, but most take $100 off the tuition for every child that enrolls in the school (if there’s no family discount), or per family, that recommended your school to the new parents.

Before going any further, let me digress for a moment.

Stop calling such a practice, “Discount.” “Discount” carries with it the connotation that the price being charged is inflated, and that whatever is being offered is not worth the full price.

Even the word itself means something negative.

“Dis” means the opposite of whatever follows it, as in “dismount.” So rather than being an education that “counts” for something, parents are expecting a discount. That’s not a way to grow your school.

However, an “incentive” is! So let’s talk about “incentives.”

If the $100 “incentive” is given right away, three problems result:

1) Giving the reward during the “current” school year results in a loss of $100 in revenue. Even though the new parents are paying tuition, if you’ve already built your budget, you’ve just shorted your school $100 (or more) for a new child that is enrolled in your school. This gives the impression that your school’s tuition is able to be discounted. Usually, in the business world, things are discounted when there’s an oversupply, and stores adopt the mindset that it’s better to make a little off a product rather than just take the loss. With most schools budgets being as lean as they can be, to further “discount” tuition isn’t fiscally prudent…

2) especially if the new student leaves before the end of the school year. We all know the reasons that children are disenrolled (there’s that “dis” again) from our schools – there are too many to mention.  Therefore, if you give the $100 tuition credit in the current school year, and the new student leaves, you’ve just given away a reward for no results.

3) The practice becomes an expectation.

Therefore, rather than giving the tuition “incentive” for the current school year, give the $100 off next year’s tuition if the new student remains through the whole current year. While it will require a little bookkeeping memory, you can then build the budget for the next school year with this consideration in mind.

In fact, if you’d like to try a new approach to budgeting for your school (not for the coming school year, but just as an experiment to see if it would be possible), send an mail to [email protected] with the words “Retention-Focused Budget Creation” in the subject line.

I look forward to hearing from you, and may your summer be abundantly blessed!

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008-2023 (Original publication date: 20080602)