Does Your School Need a Doctor? 3 Key Ingredients for a Healthy School

Every year I conduct about 40 school site visits as I begin my Enrollment Catalyst Program. This site visit includes focus groups with key constituents and meetings with the enrollment and marketing team. In addition, I also conduct a comprehensive parent survey. This survey gives me a snapshot view of the school and it is key in identifying the school’s overall health.

Sometimes I feel like a doctor when I work with a school team. An enrollment and marketing plan works best when it is applied to a healthy school. If the school isn’t healthy, then the best enrollment and marketing plan won’t solve the school’s issues. This is why a site visit and parent survey are very important to my process.

In my experience, I look for three critical indicators to assess the overall health of a school. All three of these indicators are closely related.

1. Parent Satisfaction – I believe that parent satisfaction is key to a healthy school. If parents aren’t satisfied, then the best enrollment and marketing plan can’t move the school forward. By asking the parent to identify how satisfied they are in their child’s educational experience on a 5-point scale, I will have a good feel for the health of the school. A score of 4.0 or higher is a positive indicator of parent satisfaction. The higher the score is above 4.0, the stronger the school’s health. This overall satisfaction score gives me this snapshot overview of the parent’s view of the school. Satisfaction becomes a key driver of word of mouth.

2. Graduation Plans – Retention, continued enrollment and plans to graduate are key indicators of the health of the school. While this should be measured annually, a simple question on a parent survey asking about their graduation plans will help to understand their continued desire to enroll. If there are issues at the school, then this will clearly be expressed by parents in this question and will result in attrition. The mark of a healthy school is one with a retention rate of 90% or higher.

3. Net Promoter Score – Your Net Promoter Score can be measured by asking the ultimate question, “How likely are you to recommend your school to a friend in the community?” The responses will range from 0, not likely at all, to 10, extremely likely, and parents can be identified as Promoters, Passives or Detractors. As a result, an overall Net Promoter Score is computed by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. Scores can range from +100 to -100. A score that is 50 or higher is considered to be a very strong score and is an indicator of positive word of mouth and a healthy school. I have written a more detailed blog post on this topic. Since word of mouth is the number one way that prospective parents discover your school, it is critical for you to have a strong Net Promoter Score.

Several years ago I went through this process with a school in the northeast. Through my initial research, I discovered that parent satisfaction was low, retention was struggling and the Net Promoter Score was -3. All three of these areas indicated that that the school was unhealthy and much more would be needed to turnaround the school than an enrollment and marketing plan. In fact, it was too late for this school as they closed the following year.

All three of these areas must work together to position a school for growth. By including these three questions in a parent survey, I can quickly determine the overall health of a school. The healthier schools will have stronger scores in the three categories.

My point is that your enrollment and marketing plan must be tied into the overall health of your school. If your school isn’t healthy, then you will struggle if you only focus on enrollment and marketing strategies.

As we move into a new school year, it is important for this assessment to take place. You need to examine the health of your school by considering these three key indicators. Then, once you understand your situation, you can put an action plan in place to improve your school while implementing your enrollment and marketing plan.

Have you examined the health of your school?

Does your school need a doctor?

Do you need an enrollment and marketing plan?

Let me know if you are interested in discussing the next steps concerning how I can help your school. In the next few weeks, I will be conducting site visits at four very different types of schools – Gulliver Schools in Miami, FL; St. Paul’s Episcopal Day School in Kansas City, MO; Christ Academy in Wichita Falls, TX; and St. Paul Lutheran School in Westlake, OH. Is your school next?

 

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