With the new academic year comes a host of new families to your school. For most schools, at any one time, about 15 percent of your parents are new parents. These new parents represent many great opportunities to improve your enrollment for years to come, and if you have a great “onboarding” process, you have the chance to increase their connection and loyalty to your school.
Reach out to your new parents and ask the following questions:
1.) What school did your children attend before our school?
If you are a high school or they are a transfer, your registrar will have this data. But if they represent kindergartners, this is a great opportunity to see which pre-k is sending the most kids to you – great information to know as you build relationships with those “feeder or partner” schools. Take this data and analyze it to understand what your feeder patterns look like.
2.) What are the names and ages (birthdates) of your student’s siblings?
Don’t ever take a sibling’s enrollment for granted. Now that you know their ages and names you can reach out to them. A birthday card or even a t-shirt that says “Future Trojan, Charter Academy Class of 2025, etc.” helps to build the expectation that they will come to your school.
3.) What is your profession? OR What skills do you have that could beneficial to our school?
Wouldn’t it be great to know that Mr. Jones is a talented web designer who could be tapped for help? Or that Ms. Smith owns the largest insurance agency in town and would be a good development target? Having volunteers who can staff a bake sale table is great. But being able to leverage the expertise of your parental base to help with more strategic needs of your school is much better.
4.) How did you first hear about our school?
This question tells you how effective your marketing efforts were. If they mention that a friend whose children attend your school was the source, ask who it was. Then, gather up those names and recognize the parents who are truly spreading the word and are your “ambassadors”.
5.) What other schools did you consider?
Knowing who your “competition” is will help you differentiate yourself against them. You also want to ask a couple of follow up questions:
- What did those schools do better / differently than us in recruiting?
Learn from other schools. If they are doing an innovative thing in their student marketing, then
steal adopt it for your own school.
- Why did you choose our school?
Here is where you learn what marketing message is truly resonating with your potential families. You learn what your true “brand identity” is in the marketplace.
6.) Do you have friends that would be interested in our school?
Word of mouth is the best means of recruiting. It never hurts if we can identify people that these parents know and encourage a visit.
7.) Would you be willing to share a testimonial?
They are still excited, and your school has that “new car smell” to them. Ask them to post a little something on Facebook saying how “Happy we are that we chose school X for our children”
8.) Make them brand ambassadors.
Give the new parents a t-shirt or a coffee mug with your school’s logo. Better yet, give them a car decal or magnet so they can proudly tell the world that their child attends your school.
9.) Set them up with a mentor.
If you want to strengthen the community at your school, you need to help build connections between parents. It can be hard to come to events when you are the new parent.
Knowing a friendly face or having someone outside of the administration to ask questions to can go a long way in helping them feel part of your community.
10.) Thank them and make a promise.
They are trusting you with their most precious asset: their children. Thank them for their trust in you and promise to be the best school that you can be. When I say this – actually reach out to them and do this.
Have an administrator call each new family about 6 weeks into the semester. Thank them, and ask them how things are going. Was the on-boarding process good? Are they settling in? Little touches like this matter and you better believe that they will tell their friends about that call.
Engagement early and often with new parents to your school can be incredibly beneficial to your recruitment efforts, but importantly, it can also help them feel welcome and build your school community.