Two schools near me are experiencing record enrollment while two others are in a very different place. Same demographic, same town. What’s the difference?
In today’s challenging economy, private education can be on a family’s chopping block if income falls. Your school must be positioned as part of the DNA of your families so that education isn’t cut in all but the most drastic of circumstances.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- What’s In It For Them? That’s right and especially at a Christian school, you must be able to answer that question once you understand a family’s needs. So, ask the question, “What’s the single most important thing to you in your child’s education?” Your ability to meet that need is the first key. If you can understand and meet their top three needs, you are well on your way.
- Show your commitment and keep your promises. Are you living the sermon you’re preaching? If you promise a loving, caring environment then every faculty and staff member must live that commitment.
- Treat people equally. The school environment requires judgment calls to be made every day but if school leaders cater to special interests, their long- term credibility suffers, and ultimately the school suffers. Consider creating your own version of a Statement of Agreement, which, among other things, states that the school has the final authority and that the parents agree with it before enrolling.
- Share your message, build your brand. Your first communication priority is to your current school families. Sharing your success stories, your needs and even your shortcomings (along with the fact that you’re taking action to correct them) are ways you cultivate loyalty and create goodwill ambassadors of your school families.
- Manage your perception. Does your “inside reality” match your “outside perception” and are they both at a high level? Do your families believe that their tuition investment is really worth it? How you appropriately communicate and value everything from your tuition rate to your curriculum will reinforce that same perception among your families.
- Give them an opportunity for genuine input. This works best at a personal level—with the teacher, principal and the leader. You need to communicate your protocol for this, but also your openness to receiving feedback. Small groups, committees and advisory boards can also be springboards to success.
There are many other things to be on top of, if you are to weather the economic and opinion storms that constantly blow. Fundamentally, successful schools understand what they are and what they are not, and they stay true to their mission.