I am going to bring up a nasty subject: when your instructors poach students from your studio. No one wants to believe that teachers they hire are going to take students away and start their own business. However, there has been more than one school that we've worked with that this has happened to. When that happens, it has the potential to be financially devastating to your school.
- Close relationships: First and foremost, it is important to have strong relationships with the families who are your clients. What I'm talking about is customer service and customer forums.
- Open door policy for both students and teachers.
- Check in with your teachers. Bonus them for great attendance or helping you grow your enrollment.
- Check in with your students: make sure each student and parent feels special.
- Create classes that are not available at other studios.
- One on one conversations with all parents: parent/teacher meetings- like all schools - once per quarter.
As a business owner myself, I have learned through trial and error that sometimes ya just gotta go the legal way. I am not a lawyer, so the advice I am about to recommend MUST be vetted through a lawyer in your own state. My suggestion is to have a signed agreement with your teachers, that in the likelihood that they start their own studio, that they won't "poach" students from you for at least 6 months after they start. Again, please check with your lawyers--I don't know from state to state what laws are.
If it happens, what can you do?
Here are some ideas to help morale at the studio as well as help the continued health and growth of enrollment:
- If your loss is a big one, check in with your other family members. It might be suitable to have an "all hands on deck" type of meeting with some or all parents, depending on the size of your school to discuss what happened, and to check in with them. This meeting is also to talk about any great news that might be happening at the studio: new classes, special events, new teachers.
- Offer special programs that are not available at other studios, like for example, the program at NEW YORK AND BEYOND Broadway instructors, and agents to YOUR studio!
- Competition Team: If your competition team was hurt, become creative about a "fast track" team. Many studios require girls to be dancing for one year at their studio prior joining a team. Offer a "fast track" solution, such that new girls with strong skills can have an opportunity to be on the team come January. Note that it is important to engage parents of the "existing" team members so they realize that your decision to have a fast track competition team is to better your school overall, and to make up for the lost team members quickly.
Recouping the loss
The majority of our posts talk about growing your studio business through marketing, so I will list a few ideas that have been mentioned before, as well as some new ideas to continue to grow your business:
- Promote your studio to all the schools in your area. Offer school discounts.
- Many elementary schools have after school programs. Offer several opportunities such as a FREE TRIAL CLASS in the school or a 13 week "paid" after school class.
- Make sure that you reward ALL returning students in some way just for coming back. The reward can be discounts on registration fees, discount on 1 class, $10 gift certificate toward anything in your school or at least a warm Thank You email.
- Develop a referral gift program for any student/family who brings in a new student.
- Target emails toward students who have dropped out (not the once who just up and left you, but less recent students.)
- Find out if your state has any type of health insurance re-imbursement for families exercise. A lot of health insurance companies are now re-imbursing for GYM membership.
- ADVERTISE ON FACEBOOK with links back to your special offers.
- Make sure your website reflects how awesome your studio is, so when all the marketing you do drives traffic, you have something great to offer! Wouldn't you rather be an AFTER? LIVE SITE
9. Make registration easy! Offering online registration increases enrollment as well as reduces paperwork for collection and processing. Try School Empower
I hope you don't experience Faculty Poaching but if you do, hopefully within a short time, your studio can reach its full potential and more.