The ultimate plan for customer retention

The ultimate plan for customer retention

Over the last three months we have looked at business building for 2010. To build your business from year to year it is important to have a retention plan in place. Remember that to most of your customers you are probably low man on the totem pole. No offense but people are very busy now days. They like the fact that their child is involved in an activity but it is crucial for you to continue to market to them, educate them and to let them know you care about them!

Think about this:

How much money, time and effort do you spend on getting new students?

Do you continue to sell to your current students parents?

What do you do for your current customers to let them know you care?

What would you do to keep 95 percent of your current students to return next year?

Ok, I have got you thinking a bit! Here is a fact of most businesses. They are always looking for new students to fill their classes with. The key is not just getting new ones every year but keeping the ones you already have. This is not all that easy. You have a marketing plan you also need to have a retention plan. Now not every student will return year after year. Some, and it is probably more than some, will not continue and the reason has nothing to do with you! Maybe their schedule has changed or maybe their child just doesn’t really want to dance. No system is full proof but there is a way to maximize your return and to get your current students to sign up for more classes.

Here is what we do:

  1. Start to market to your current clients now. Send out a note on the general overview of the progress of your student body. Inform them when your recital tickets will go on sale, when you start priority registration (this is discussed in number 3 below) and what you are offing over the summer, if you do offer summer lessons. This letter is just a friendly letter to inform and to say thanks for their business.
  2. Send out recommendations and your fall 2010 schedule in April or May. This has been a great way for us to build our overall class count without adding any new clients. On these recommendations you will give a simple report on where the student is now and where you think they would be placed next year. You should also recommend that they take additional classes in the same subject to expedite the learning process and for classes you believe they would enjoy trying. If a student is taking ballet, they may enjoy trying to add jazz, modern or any other subject that would make their overall dance education more enjoyable.
  3. Have priority registration for your returning students. This is a great way to build a sense of urgency into your pre registration. By registering by a certain date your current clients will get first chance to register on their preferred time, day and class before you open up to the general public. In the one week that we offer this we have a good idea on who is returning and who we need to work on a bit. It may be that you need to just call a certain client to prod them along. Again remember that you are probably low in their overall thoughts. By reaching out to them that may be the ticket to get them to re register.
  4. When they still are not signed up. Now you can send them a series of e-mails, post cards or phone calls. We have had clients that said they were not going to be returning. But after a phone call we are able to find out what their perception is and to fix whatever it is if something went wrong. Now I know this process takes time, believe me I know, but you will learn a lot about your program and what it is that will get your current clients to re register. Don’t take everything they say as fact. You will hear the good, the bad and maybe even the ugly. Here is the key. The fact that you have taken the time to call will go a long way to having them make a move to register again or to winning them back.
  5. In August and September do not forget to keep them in your marketing plan. Just because they said no in April or May doesn’t mean that they won’t change their minds three or four months later. It happens frequently to us. Just keep letting them know that you are aware of the fact that they are not back and that they are not only welcomed to come back at anytime but that you are anxiously awaiting their return. Assume that they will come back once they realize, with your constant reminder, as to what they are missing you can and will get them to return.

Here is a critical point. You are not bothering people. If you are they will let you know to take them off your e-mail and mailing list. Until they say stop, I would keep making sure they know that you appreciated their business and would like to see them back. Think about it, have you frequented a business then stop going there? It may be that you just forgot about them or that you were unhappy about something. If they reached out to you to say that they miss you and that your business does matter to them you would consider going back to see what they now have to offer. A local restaurant in our town does this on a regular basis with e-mail blast and post cards. They offer discounts, send out birthday cards and thank you for stopping by this month cards. They are constantly reminding me of how much I like their food. It makes sense, I go there so why not keep educating me on all there great food and on what else I might like to try the next time I come in. With dance lessons the same holds true. Tell your clients how much you appreciate their business and keep educating them on the benefits of arts training. The more you communicate to them the happier they will be and so will you!