After many years of helping schools use our system to engage both enrolled and prospective parents, and especially after the last year since we launched our Enrollment Marketing service, I have identified what I believe to be the most prominent roadblock school directors are putting in front of themselves when trying to book more school tours with prospective parents.
Referencing back to my previous article that breaks down the 8 strategic focuses of private school business success, this post will give you the most powerful strategy for increasing your inquiries.
When I ask school directors what they think is the best way for parents to learn if their school is a good fit for their child, they always tell me that it’s the tour. And that makes sense because when has a parent ever decided to enroll a child in a private school from just visiting a website, getting an email with information, or having a phone call? The answer is never, except for rare edge cases, or perhaps international parents that can’t afford to make the trip.
Another question I always ask is, “What is the best way for parents to understand the value of your school in relation to the price of tuition?” Again, everyone agrees that the high ticket price of tuition is always more natural for a parent to accept if they believe that your school is the ONE for their child.
The good news is that once a parent shows up for a school tour, there is a very high probability they will enroll their child, or at least want to if they can get approved by the school. Most schools we work with have a 70% – 80% enrollment rate with families that come in for a tour.
But more often than not, what I hear is that they are giving interested parents almost every reason not to visit the school for a tour. Moreover, without being aware of it, they are passing off the job of expressing the magical experience of their school and programming to a brochure, website, email or short phone conversation.
This all too common combination of mistakes is a perfect storm when it comes to filling enrollment at a private school.
Think about it, how can prospective parents possibly understand why they should spend $10K without seeing, touching, smelling, and experiencing the results of the passionate work of the people that manage and teach in your school? It’s simply not possible.
When someone emails your office asking about enrollment information, and you send them a brochure with a $10k price tag, all they can do is think about the price in relation to a bunch of words and pictures on a page. The same thing goes for your website.
Here is a recent webinar I co-hosted with the world renown Montessori management consultant Jonathan Wolff where he voices the same sentiment about using your website and marketing materials strategically.
He really gets into at the 55:00 minute-marker.
So what we are finding, is that the schools that are most successful with booking school tours and filling enrollment understand that until a parent has visited the school, every interaction they have with a prospective parent has the one, singular goal of persuading them to book a tour. NOT selling them on enrolling their child in their school, because that happens during the tour.
Here is a list of tactics any school can adopt to book more school tours.
Review your website to ensure that you are giving the minimal amount of information necessary about your school to pique the interest of prospective parents and motivate them to schedule a tour.
Make sure that above all else, your website prioritizes the information that explains to a parent, not only how, but why they should schedule a tour.
When a prospective parent calls looking for information or you are following up on a tour request, don’t answer all of their questions. Now, you don’t want to come off as evasive but you need to prepare a response to the common questions you are better answered in person after the parent engages the magic of your school.
E.g. When a parent asks how much the tuition is, you can tell them that you can’t give them a clear answer on that until you meet with them and assess their child. The reason? Well, tuition changes all the time, you have many programming options, you can give bulk discounts, or subsidies, etc.
And it’s completely reasonable to just say that we only discuss tuition prices after we meet and assess your needs. If they balk or argue, then perhaps they are only interested in the cheapest option and that is likely a parent you should avoid.
Communicate the value they get out of attending a school tour. Make sure that they understand that attaining a full understanding of how amazing your school is can only happen from visiting in person.
Make sure they know they will have a great time.
Let them know that they will leave having learned more about what they want, or perhaps what they don’t want.
Explain to them that your school tours are a transformative experience, because, well, they should be.
Let them know coffee, homemade cookies, or even lunch will be provided.
The bottom line is, you have to sell the school tour before you can sell the school and by doing so will ensure you have more opportunities to fill up your school with the ‘ideal-fit’ families.