Using Churn to Your Advantage

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After a long summer of community festivals, recruitment fairs, and door-knocking, your team is probably as spent as your budget.  It’s tempting for exhausted recruitment leaders to take their foot off the gas as the new school year starts. Before you trade your clipboard in for a mojito, one last push during these critical first few weeks can make a big difference in hitting your enrollment goals (no matter how doubtful that kid looks).

The first few days of the school year can bring a tremendous amount of churn (both in our enrollment numbers and in our stomachs!).  Low-quality schools have it even worse.  A chaotic start to the year gives families second-thoughts about their new school.  Savvy leaders use this to their advantage, helping families who’ve realized they made a bad choice get into a better school. 

Here are a few ways you can not only reach disgruntled families, but also make sure they enroll:

1.    One Last Campaign

Shift Your Message:  We usually encourage aspirational/inspirational messages, but reaching families who are unhappy with their new school is about getting straight to the point.

Engage Your Families: Give your best referral source tools (email, text message, flyer) they can pass on to friends who aren’t happy with their child’s school.  A direct “hotline” number is best.

Redo Your Digital: Facebook and Google AdWords are the fastest, least expensive, and most effective way to target disgruntled families, especially if you’ve been using remarketing ads.

One Last Mailing: A personalized email, letter, or postcard (or all three!) to your list -- especially families who started the enrollment process -- will get the phone ringing one last time.

2.    Hold Their Hand

Switching schools after the year has already started can feel overwhelming.  Providing families with someone to help them navigate the process -- especially someone who’s empowered to eliminate barriers -- will make a big difference in your conversion rates.  That person should be friendly, responsive, tenacious, and easy to reach (preferably with a direct dial phone number).

3.    Reduce Barriers to Switching:

Many families will be reluctant to switch because they’ve already bought uniforms and supplies.  Offer them a gift card for 2-3 sets of uniforms or set up a uniform exchange so they can trade uniforms they’ve already bought for your school’s uniforms.  Spending a little bit of money to help a family switch schools will pay for itself several times over in the long run.

The window for this strategy is pretty short.  The churn will settle down after a few weeks, and you’ll still have plenty of time for that mojito.

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