So, you went ahead and tried out some different marketing ideas and new families are starting to contact you who are interested in your program. You are noticing perhaps that things are a little bit different. Kids who have never ever danced are interested in coming to take a Contemporary class! Hip Hop is the current craze for 5-7-year old’s! Baby ballerina classes are slowly rebuilding and kids who have never taken a ballet class in their lives all of a sudden want to become ballerina’s! We aren’t talking about our usual customers here; these extraordinary times have created a new type of dance aficionado!
The cause is this, people have been locked up in their houses watching movies, TV shows and you tube and the after-school programs are dwindling as we speak. Parents are desperate to get their kids out of the house doing some kind of positive program that will help these young people release some energy through exercise and give them some way to use their imaginations and be creative. The children are equally eager to do some activity that will give them some sort of a social life where they can have fun and be stimulated at the same time. We are all trying to rebuild our businesses right now and we should welcome this new type of client with open arms because they will be able to provide a new stream of revenue that we would not have received in other circumstances.
But, tread cautiously, I have noticed that many of these people are not used to signing up for anything of more than a couple of months and are amazed at the concept of actually studying for almost the entire school year! Many people want to feel that they are getting a deal! This is partially because it is something unfamiliar to them and many of them cannot imagine that their child would be interested for the long haul! The other side of it is that many families have been affected financially by the shut downs and would love to do something for their child but are afraid they will not be able to afford it.
Once I realized how some of our new customers were thinking I quickly came up with a plan to make every new client feel that there were ways to make this happen for their child no matter what kind of financial circumstances they found themselves in. The only stipulation was that they had to leave a credit card on file with us and choose whether the payment would be taken out on the 1st or the 15th of the month. We use Authorize.net but there are plenty of other companies out there.
I made a new breakdown of payments up to ten months adding in the costume payments for the end of year show. I broke the costume payments down into 3 equal parts that would be added to the monthly tuition total for October, November and December so that all costume payments would be in by December in time to order.
Depending on whether the new student was taking 1-8 classes per week I made a chart breaking the payments down for 5-10 months. I would first offer them the 5-month payment but if there was any hesitation, I could go right to the 10 month one. In these difficult times we have to run our businesses in as flexible a manner as possible, having confidence that once we get these new customers with their children in through the door that they will be happy to stay for years to come. We want our families to feel that the dance studio is a safe, caring environment for these new students. Most of them will start with one or two classes but you never know when you will find a diamond in the rough!! By offering different options I believe that the word is out because in the last few weeks we have had a steady trickle of this new type of student sign up for classes. By the way these charts that I made up also made it easy for my other front desk staff to get new people to agree to sign up. Keep in mind that I do believe that people will be signing up all through the new year and probably into the spring. This is not your usual time and we must be ready and willing to take new students in whenever they walk through the door, something that is quite foreign to most of us.
This is a new time for all of us and the more that we look at ways to get people in the building and stay to take classes the easier it will be to get over this temporary hump in the road. Keep thinking creatively and you will succeed!