Growing your membership base isn’t always the easiest task. Especially once you’ve gained a certain amount of growth, continual growth can prove to be a challenge. One effective way to get a boost in members is with a good referral system. Utilize your existing membership base to boost itself; the larger your membership base, the easier it can be. However, with competition being pretty stiff these days, you’ll have to get a little clever for this to work for you.
Here are four ways to help increase your student referrals:
If your school doesn’t offer good value, you’ll have a hard time getting your students to recommend your school to others, let alone keeping the ones you already have for the long-term. Make sure you thoroughly analyze the whole experience your school offers. Are your classes educational, entertaining, and of high quality? Do your instructors balance discipline, respect and fun? Make sure you optimize your lesson plans and your school’s experience, so that people are attracted to your school. Referrals should start to become a more regular occurrence.
The traditional “refer a friend and get a deal” promotion does work but there can be more effective ways to incentivize your students to refer a friend. This will depend on your demographic, location, and other considerations. You’ll have to play around with different ideas, to find one that works for you. One example is to hold a social media campaign promoting a “refer a friend” deal, in which liking or commenting on the post enters you into a contest where you could win training equipment or a membership.
Host movie nights, camping trips, workshops and retreats, while also encouraging your members to invite non-member friends. This gives you a chance to interact directly with people who already have a connection with your school through their acquaintances. By becoming more than a martial arts school in your community, you allow yourself to become a source of culture and entertainment: something that boosts your visibility greatly. (Think about all of the cell phone images of your event circulating on social media networks!)
"Students are the lifeblood of our industry. Referrals from them can greatly improve your number of additional students." (Image by Jennifer Murawski, used under CC)
Host an open house where members and non-members come and enjoy entertainment, demonstrations, food and drinks, and good times. Get smart with it. You want to get onto people’s social media posts to spread the word, not only with the attendees, but people who missed the event. This will spread the word and boost your brand visibility. You never know when someone will suddenly become interested in your martial art and, if your business is the first one they think of, you’re already a step ahead of the competition.