We implemented the priority registration about 12 years ago and have found that it is a great way to know way in advance who is coming back and who is not. You will have piece of mind all summer long and a more money on hand from this pre registration. You will be able to have all of your faculty in place because you will know exactly which classes are filling up. It will also give you a chance to work on the students and parents that are wavering, during the summer months. If people have not registered by the end of June we send out a series of post cards encouraging them not to miss out! I know of some studios that will wait until August or September before they start their registration and they are very apprehensive all summer long about which classes will fill and who will show up.
It is very helpful to know which classes will need to be more aggressively marketed over the summer months. If you know, for instance, that your young children's pre ballet classes need a boost in enrollment, you can position you advertising during the summer to get more students for those classes. A great time to hold priority registration is right after your student showcase or recital. People are very excited after they have seen their child on stage and realize what they have learned. You can have two or three days that you will devote to registering your current students. Just make sure you get the word out. You can also tie it in with some customer appreciation event at your studio. We now have our priority registration in the second week of May, which falls right after one of our pre school children's shows and during a busy week of rehearsals for our student showcase which is held in mid June.
Why would they sign up so early? Because, as current clients they will get priority placement for the classes and times that they want before you open it up to the general public. You will be creating a sense of urgency. You will be able to do this by letting them know that classes fill up quickly and that they could be shut out of a class or time that they desire if they don't take advantage of this priority registration. Post a big poster of your schedule in your lobby and when a class closes write on the schedule in big letters, CLOSED! Once they see that, the word will get around in a hurry!
One of the best ways to create momentum for your priority registration is to send out a student recommendation form. This form will congratulate the student on a successful season and give them recommendations for next season. Of course, you will recommend that they take some additional classes to increase their proficiency and have more fun! You will need to have your fall schedule completed when you mail out these forms. Send it all out in an envelope that has printed on it Open immediately, important pre registration information!" This way, they can have their class schedules planned before your priority registration date.
Over the years we have tinkered with the format. We have tried to make the form friendly and not have it look like a report card. These recommendations will be a way for you increase the chances that they try another class or dance form. Check the downloadable form area for a copy of our recommendation form. You can tailor it to show the classes you offer. It is advisable that you encourage the parents to call you if they have any questions. This way you can guide them in the right direction and find out exactly what the student wants to get out of their dance experience. One thing that we have found is that most parents want direction and are, for the most part, clueless when it comes to dance training. They want their child to have fun, learn and stay out of trouble. We can all easily show them that dance classes will do just that!
By creating a sense of urgency and holding a priority registration you will be marketing to the people you know are already with you. They will sign up for your classes before they sign up for any other fall activity. This way your clients will build their child's other schedules around dance and not the other way around. Your clients will love the fact that you appreciate them and that they get first dibs on which classes they can sign up for. This excitement is very contagious and will create a lot of energy before the season ends. It will also be a great time to talk about what you offer during the summer in the way of specialized programs. Check out the "Fantasy Ballet Summer Program" article this month. Most parents are busy and may not even be aware that you have a program that their child can do over the summer. It is not being pushy just informative.
In closing, remember that priority registration is great for you because it gives you an opportunity to plan well in advance for the fall and your clients will love it because it is just more convenient for them.
Check out the forms we use for pre-registration and our recommendation forms by clicking here