For many of us studio owners this is the time of year when we need to be planning ahead to our next year by finding ways to not only retain and re-energize the customers that we currently have but also to re-activate the ones that have left us. Each year there are some students that decide to move on, usually it is for a variety of reasons. They may be going through that period where they feel they are missing out on something because of their time at your studio.
Perhaps they have decided that they want to try a sport or cheerleading, it doesn't really matter what the reason is it is just a natural occurrence when you are dealing with children. However, just because they leave you one year doesn't necessarily mean that they will not come back. We have had many instances when students have taken a year off to do something else and when we have reached out to them they have decided to come back full force. Very often the students that leave also have siblings and we have found that by giving these families a call it has very often encouraged them to come back and enroll other children from their families.
The personal touch does still work because it is becoming more and more of a rarity. People still like to talk to a real person and feel happy when they get a call. Because they have been past customers we always include some kind of special offer to entice them to come back and try us again. We do get a good percentage of return on that investment. Of course, making calls takes time and it is generally better to call homes from 5-7 at night as you are more likely to get a person at the other end and not a machine. If you do not have the time to do it yourself it is worthwhile to have someone in your organization that is friendly on the phone to make those calls for you. Go back to your client list from two or three years ago and make up a list of possible future clients. Being aware of how many children are in a family will also be very useful as it will give you a good indication as to whether or not they might have children of an age who may be ready to dance.
Training your current customers to look at your emails is important too. The great thing with email is that it is free and you can track it. Make sure that you contact families who are blocking your emails so that they will be able to receive all of the pertinent information that you send out to them. It is a good idea to have an online competition from time to time with your current customers where the winner will receive some kind of a discount or an item of dancewear or perhaps a free private class as the prize. The competition could be a dance history question or a special recipe that someone has to come up with. It doesn't really matter what you use as long as your customers participate. It gives people a reason to look at your emails instead of blocking them or deleting them without looking to see what the content is.
There will always be the ones who no matter how many ways you give them the information they will still call or ask at the front desk, but the more you accustom them to being able to find out all the details and give them the option to download forms etc. the easier it will be to keep everyone informed. Informed customers are happy customers.
You not only want to keep your current clients but you want to interest them in signing up for more of the classes that you have to offer. Just imagine if everyone at your studio took even one more class each, how much more revenue that would generate. Marketing to the people who already like what you are doing is so much easier than trying to market to people who have not yet discovered what you have to offer. Don't get me wrong, you definitely need to reach out to those people too but why not enlarge what you already have? We have found that by giving parents a recommendation on paper of which classes their child should take for the following year, we have been able to increase the amount of classes of at least 70% of our current students. If "Susie" is taking one ballet class why not encourage her to take two and perhaps add a jazz or tap? If "John" is taking hip hop and tap, suggest a ballet class to help him with strength and balance. For those students who are already taking multiple classes bring in a different class or discipline. Perhaps Yoga for Dancers or Zumba, even a Turn and Leap class. Whatever ideas you have that you think your students might find interesting or intriguing. Remember every additional class that they take will put more money in your pocket. Yes, you may have to hire an additional teacher but the fact that you are always offering something new and exciting will keep you on top of your game.
Everybody texts nowadays and if you want to make sure your clients get a specific message that is probably the most efficient way to get it to them. You do need to make sure that they are open to receiving a text from the studio, most people will like it because they are generally running from place to place picking up one child and dropping off another. We put the question on our registration form and it makes it easy for us to know how to direct our information.
Using one method of marketing is generally not enough as most people need to receive messages from different sources before it really sinks in. Make your studio THE place where everyone wants to come to study and have fun.