Parent Retention: Skills on Satisfaction
The average early education program loses around 20% of its customers annually simply by failing to tend to parent relationships.
- 68% leave because they are unhappy with the service they receive
- 14% are unhappy with the quality of care and education their child received
- 9% leave simply to use a competitor
Every school looses families, but few ever measure or recognize how many of their families become "inactive". Once the initial relationship is formed, they let the relationship go unattended. Both the school and the parent lose interest. The easiest way to grow your enrollment is not to lose your families. This is what many call "closing the back door".
Sell and then sell again
So many people do an excellent job of making the initial sale, then drop the ball and get complacent, ignoring the customer, while they chase more business. Your selling has actually only just begun when someone makes that initial enrollment decision because virtually everyone is susceptible to buyer's remorse. To lock in that sale, and all of the referrals and repeat business that will flow from it, you need to strike while the iron is hot and allay your parents' fears and demonstrate by your actions that you really care.
Bring back the "lost sheep"
There is little point in dedicating massive resources to generate new families when 20-60% of your dormant families will be receptive to your attempts to regenerate their interest. Reactivating families who already know you and your school is one of the easiest, quickest ways to increase enrollment
Avoid losing your families by building relationships and keeping in touch using a rolling calendar of communication. This is a programmed sequence of letters, events, phone calls, "thank you's", special offers, follow ups, magic moments, and cards or notes with a personal touch. The more you communicate, the less the parent will doubt your services.
Extraordinary Customer Service
The never-ending pursuit of excellence is to keep families so satisfied that they tell others how well they are treated when doing business with you. Moving the care and education you provide into the realm of the extraordinary by delivering higher than expected levels of service to each and every family member. Key facets include: dedication to customer satisfaction by every employee; providing immediate response; no buck passing; going above and beyond the call of duty; consistent delivery of education; and maintaining a safe and healthy environment. Extraordinary customer service builds fortunes in repeat families, whereas poor customer service will drive your families to your competition.
A courtesy system is a powerful system that improves the interpersonal skills of your team and changes the spirit of your team and spirit of your school. It involves speaking to staff politely and pleasantly, without sarcasm or parody, and treating them at least as well as you would want them to treat your families.
Long-term success and parent retention belong to those who do not take ethical shortcuts. There must always be total consistency between what you say and do and what your families experience. Families will be attracted to you if you are open and honest with them, care for them, take genuine interest in them, don't let them down and practice what you preach... and they will avoid you if you don't.
Measure lifetime value
There is a vast difference between a weeks tuition you earn on a new enrollment, which ignores the bigger picture, and the total income you will collect from a family over the course of the child's experience in your program. Looking at the lifetime value of enrollment helps you understand the importance of investing in family retention.
A complaint is a gift
96% of dissatisfied families don't complain. They just walk away, and you never know why. That's because they often don't know how to complain, or can't be bothered, or are too frightened, or don't believe it will make a difference. They may not tell you what is wrong, but they will tell plenty of others. A system of unearthing complaints can therefor be the lifeblood of your business, because families who complain are giving you a gift, they are still talking to you, they are giving you another opportunity to return them to a state of satisfaction and delight them in the manner in which you respond gives you another chance to show what you're made of and create even greater customer loyalty.
Be the expert
Being the expert on early childhood education will make you likely to retain more families. Become the parents trusted advisor and build loyalty in the relationship. Becoming the trusted source, you build a relationship that leads to a dependency. Your families will trust you, rely on you to give the best advice, and recognize you as an integral part of the success.
Build trust through relationships
As the age old saying goes, "you do business with people you trust". Trust is essential in business, and building relationships with parents garner that trust. Learn to build trust through shared values. Ask parents what differentiates you from your competitors.