7 Retention Strategies in the Evaluation Phase of the Family Journey

Once a family is enrolled in your school, the parent is in the evaluation phase of the Family Journey.  Parents will validate their choice and determine if they have made the right decision.

This Phase is focused on retention.

Just because a family is enrolled today, doesn’t mean that they will continue their enrollment. Parents continually reflect on their experience in your school and evaluate the decision they’ve made.

I have written many blog posts, conducted several webinars, and conference workshops on effective retention strategies. I want to share several strategies with you in this post as it relates to this phase.

Retention Leadership – It is important for your school to have a champion for your retention strategies. Usually, it works best if retention is led by the head of school and principals since they have oversight of the day-to-day educational experience. While some retention strategies can be implemented by the admissions, enrollment, and marketing team, the leadership can make the greatest impact on retention.

Re-Enrollment vs. Continuous Enrollment – Re-enrollment is the annual process of asking your parents to opt-in. Continuous Enrollment assumes the family is continually enrolled. Families choosing to leave have to opt-out by a specific date. While there is more to these processes, there is a growing movement in schools to implement continuous enrollment. After all, this process makes more sense.

Selling the next Age-and-Stage™ – Parents should be continually sold on the value of continuing their child’s enrollment for the next grade and division – this is what Andy Lynch, CEO of North Star Marketing, refers to as the next Age-and-Stage™. Through transition grade level meetings, events, webinars, and step-up days, you can reinforce the value of their continued enrollment.

Retention Early Alert System – Develop a spreadsheet of your students/families and identify any key indicators (predictors) that may affect their continued enrollment. By going through this process with your team, you will be able to focus on those families that are on-the-fence and reach out to them one-family-at-a-time to deal with the issues and work to keep them enrolled.

Roles of Faculty and Staff – Your faculty and staff are the key to retention. The reality of the everyday experience in your classrooms, on the stage, or on the field, will make the difference in your school’s retention efforts. This is why your faculty and staff have the most important role in keeping your families enrolled. A high quality experience will likely result in families that want to remain enrolled.  It should always be a part of the training and discussion with faculty and staff to remind them of this key role.

Social Media Storytelling – Don’t underestimate the power of your social media presence in the life of your school community and its impact on retention. Most parents delight in seeing their children and families they know highlighted on your social channels. Your focus should be on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. At minimum, you should post at least once a day with a goal of 2-3 times a day. Storytelling is a 24/7 focus that will influence retention.

Community Building and Buddy Programs – I believe that when your parents and students are connected in a community, they are likely to remain enrolled. Throughout the year, you will want to implement community events and activities. You should also regularly assess your students’ connection to a community through friendships, sports, music, band, drama, clubs, and more. In addition, your students and parents can connect with others in your school through a buddy program.

While there is a lot more that I could write on this topic, it is critical to implement strategies in the Evaluation Phase of the Family Journey. After all, your goal is to keep your families enrolled.