It’s Time to Survey Your Parents, Part 2

Building on my previous blog post, I want to continue our discussion on the use of parent satisfaction surveys in private schools. We will examine the timing of your survey, the response to expect, the delivery method to consider, and the results to communicate. 

Survey Timing

Parent surveys can be launched any time throughout the year. However, I have found that this type of survey works best either during the fall months of October and early November or late January through early March. By choosing one of these time periods you will avoid the holidays, the end of the school year months and summer vacation—all of which will negatively affect your response rate. Once you decide on the timing of your survey, you should make this a part of your annual effort at this same time every year. An annual survey will enable you to compare satisfaction levels—your improvements and challenges—from year to year.

The Expected Response

I have found that a response rate at or around 50% is a great rate of return. Since parents are invested in your school, they are most likely to complete the survey and the results will provide you with an excellent snapshot of your school’s parent satisfaction level. 

Online Delivery Options

You have two primary options for how you can conduct your survey (assuming that all surveys should be conducted online today!). First, you can certainly do this on your own. You can use an online program, such as Survey Monkey or Zoomerang, to design and deliver your survey. The main downside to this approach is that you are the one conducting the survey and parents may question its confidentiality and their anonymity.

Secondly, you can hire a company or use a standardized survey from NAIS or some other group to conduct your survey. In addition, you could also consider the survey that I have designed and regularly use with schools to measure parent satisfaction (click here for more information). 

Regardless of the approach that you take, an annual parent satisfaction survey should be an essential component to your retention plan.

Communicating Survey Results

Finally, you should communicate the survey results to your school board, faculty and staff, and parents. Unfortunately, this is one of the most overlooked steps that administrators fail to take. While the results are usually communicated to the board in a summary format, school leaders often fail to discuss the results with the faculty, staff and parents.  

Parents are the most important group in which to communicate the results. Parents need to know that the effort they put into completing the survey has led to action. They want to know that they have been heard. It is also a great way to reinforce the overall, positive satisfaction level at your school (hopefully this is the case!) back to your parents.

I typically recommend the following communication strategies:

  • Develop a summary document of the parent survey results for distribution to the parents, faculty, staff and board. This summary document should include the main findings, both positive and negative, as well as an action plan for moving forward.
  • Present the findings to the faculty, staff and board prior to reporting to the parents. This can be accomplished in a special faculty/staff meeting.
  • Mail the summary document with a personal letter to the parents and, if possible, present the findings in a parent meeting.
  • Communicate key findings and positive quotes on your school’s website, Facebook and in the enrollment effort. The results from the parent satisfaction survey should provide you with some great statistics and anonymous quotes to use on your website and in your Facebook updates.

An annual parent satisfaction survey is an important tool to include in your school’s marketing and enrollment strategy. 

Are you conducting an annual parent satisfaction survey at your school? How does this strategy work for you and your school?

2 Responses to It’s Time to Survey Your Parents, Part 2

  1. Kim Conner says:

    Great article Rick! Just a note to schools using RenWeb School Mgt. Software. There is a built-in survey feature that allows parents to complete the survey directly from the ParentsWeb. It provides reporting to the school in a variety of formats (charts, Excel, summary, etc.)

  2. Rick,

    These were two great posts on the importance of surveying parents.The results – both quantitative and qualitative are key to developing effective marketing campaigns.

    In addition to the ground you covered, I would suggest adding questions that allow you to create a demographic profile of your parents. This would include standard questions including age, income, education, etc. But you can also ask if parents previously attended an independent school or questions that relate even more specifically to the culture of your school. Lately, for clients, we have been including questions about social media behavior (what accounts do parents have, what do they use). In the end, a comprehensive demographic profile will allow you more accurate personas to which marketing efforts can be targeted.

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