5 Steps to Develop Your School Growth Plan

At a recent conference, I asked the group of leaders this question.

Do you want to grow your school’s enrollment?

Most school leaders raised their hand. Only a few schools are actually full with waiting lists.

I then asked a follow-up question.

Do you have an enrollment and marketing plan for school growth?

Most school leaders kept their hands down.

Isn’t it ironic that the majority of school leaders want to increase their school’s enrollment, but they don’t have a plan to drive growth?

When I named my company, Enrollment Catalyst, I intentionally selected this name. Throughout my career I have been an enrollment catalyst in my both higher and K-12 educational institutions.

This is exactly what I do as I have coached hundreds and hundreds of schools.

As part of my partnership with each school, I will take their team through the five-step process of developing their enrollment and marketing plan for growth. This is a five-step plan for growth that you can apply at your school:

Step #1: Conduct an Assessment and Research

In order to begin your planning process, it is critical to conduct an assessment of your enrollment and marketing processes and strategies. You will want to understand what is working and what is not working at your school. In addition, you should conduct research through focus groups and surveys.

I recommend that you implement five surveys throughout the year including a new parent survey and a Net Promoter Score Survey. I have made all five of my surveys available in my comprehensive School Survey Solutions package. By conducting this research and an assessment, you will better understand your current situation as well as what needs to be improved.

Step #2: Identify Your Problems and Establish Your Goals

This assessment and research will inform you for step #2. It will be important to identify your problems. In other words, what problems did you identify in your assessment that you need to overcome? Do you need to turnaround an enrollment decline? Are you struggling to fill your Kindergarten classes? Has retention dropped below the desired rate of 90%?

As you identify your problems, you will then be able to establish your goals. These goals should include a total enrollment goal as well as current student retention and new student recruitment goals. Keep in mind that projections are not goals. Goals must be developed to drive your plan. Projections give you a realistic picture of what is happening throughout the year.

Step #3: Develop Your Strategies and Written Plan

This step is likely the most challenging and will require some heavy lifting. This is where you have to determine the strategies you will put in place to achieve your goals. I like to align a plan with a series of strategic initiatives. All of the strategic initiatives then have specific tactics. Ideally, your plan should be recorded in a document that can be shared, viewed and revised often.

Step #4: Operationalize Your Plan (Resources & Calendar)

After you develop the specific strategic initiatives and tactics in your plan, you will then need to take the next step to operationalize the plan in a calendar. While you can use a spreadsheet or a project management tool like Asana, I highly recommend North Star Marketing’s tool: Via. This is a complete online tool to navigate your marketing calendar and collaborate your initiatives and tactics. This is an affordable solution for you to operationalize your plan.

Step #5: Monitor, Review and Adjust Your Plan

Finally, Step #5 is more of a continuous process than an actual step. Your team will need to continue to monitor, review and adjust your plan. Things are always changing and you must be flexible to adjust. For example, none of us had a COVID-19 plan in place before the pandemic hit. However, because of this crisis, school leaders had to adjust and revise their plans and strategies.

During the past several months I have been helping my school clients adjust their strategies. Many of them have actually positioned themselves for growth and are experiencing an increase in student enrollment this year.

Through my Enrollment Catalyst Program, school leaders can work with with me through a custom, on-site program or through my virtual format. Either way, school leaders will have a guide to help them develop and implement a plan for school growth.

What’s the first step? A free, no-obligation conversation. That’s it. And if we have a match, we map out a plan that fits your timeline and budget. Click now to learn more.

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