Summer’s Hot Potato: Who’s In Charge of Retention?

It’s almost the end of the year. For many, the admission season is over. Hopefully, it was a fruitful cycle, and the newly enrolled families are happy that they chose your school.

But how do you keep them happy and their valuation of your school trending higher through the spring and summer months? In a recent edition of the InspirED SparkCast, – Why Retention Is More Important Than Admissions, I discuss how retention begins the moment parents sign the enrollment contract. Therefore, it’s critical to intentionally map out the interactions with new families from March through the first day of school.

Why is this so important?

Inevitably, there will be new families who start day one feeling like the honeymoon is over and that they’ve been left in the lurch.

Reasons may include:

  • Your desire to let them breathe and enjoy their last days at the current school and then have some summer fun as a family.
  • The changing dynamic of the admission office turning from recruitment to planning mode.
  • The school being closed, 12-month employees taking vacations, and a skeleton crew phenomenon

Here are some things to consider so a family’s “love” for your school continues to grow before the first day of school.

Passing the Baton – One of the most critical discussions at the retention meeting table is, ‘who is the point person/liaison/point of contact at the school for new families throughout the summer?’ In other words, once the admission office is no longer “that person,” who is the new person, when does the handoff occur and how is the handoff communicated to the new families?

Know your Audience – Before you get started with your plan, know that you may have to deviate from that plan for individual families. There are some – I’m sure you know – who will require additional handholding beyond what is typically expected. Be sure to meet with the new point person(s) to let them know about the individual families who might need extra attention.

Oh, those Forms – One sticky situation that happens every year is the family (new or old) who does not have the requisite forms required to start school. While it was communicated repeatedly in 5 different formats, that one new family who forgot (or thinks they are above the law) may have a rough first day. Be sure that someone is tracking all the forms, summer work, etc., and that each family can CONFIRM they are on track to start the year on time and the right foot.

Check-in August – Sometime in August, check-in with your families. This can be tough for larger schools, but it’s still worth its weight in gold.

*9/10 times it will be a voicemail*

Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Shimano. It’s Trevor Waddington from Truth Tree Academy. I’m on vacation but wanted to check in to see how your summer is going and if you are all excited for the start of school. I cannot wait to see little Johnny. If you have any questions, please let me know.

If you can raise the valuation of our school in the eyes of new parents, you can start to cultivate a deeper relationship with hopeful brand ambassadors who will make your job easier in the long run.

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