Members are the lifeblood for the vast majority of student-based businesses. Unless you sell a large number of products out of your school or studio, most of your company's profits are derived from membership fees and class drop-in rates. A successful school will not only attract new clients but also have a high rate of retention with existing members. It's always easier to keep existing business than to find new students.
Here are some retention tips to make sure your students always keep coming back for more:
1) Create community.
By creating a “family-like” environment, students will be more engaged with the school and with the other members. Creating bonds makes students' experiences more enjoyable. Make sure you have extracurricular activities where your students can get to know each other outside of class time. Camping trips are great in the summer and so are company parties, for different occasions. Have a local school or studio that isn't a competitor? Take a class from them. Who knows, they may return the favor! Having a martial arts studio, gym, and yoga center on friendly terms can increase the number of potential students, while helping retain people going to any of those businesses.
2) Give incentives to reward loyalty.
Sometimes, retention is a matter of treating loyal students and clients well. Long withstanding members can be rewarded in a multitude of ways. You can have private or public incentive packages set up for milestones such as 1-year, 3-year, or 5-year. This could range anything from a free month membership for a friend to a sampling of some of the products you sell. This generates more business, while rewarding your students for repeat business.
3) Create tiers for memberships and renewals.
A one-size-fits-all membership may not be right for every student and you might be missing out on returning students. Some students may only be able to attend class once per week, while others may be able to attend all of them. Make sure you have options so that, if a student's personal schedule changes, you can still accommodate them.
You're helping to grow champions but what are you doing to keep them?
4) Treat your students with respect.
With some types of schools, especially martial arts gyms, discipline is a key factor. However, it is important to keep in mind that your students need to feel like they are respected, to ensure they don't leave for the wrong reasons. You could also boost engagement by giving your students responsibilities around the school such as music selection, team leading, etc. Keeping members involved makes them feel as though they are investing time and energy into the business itself: a key factor in retention.
5) Gather feedback from your members.
You won't know what you're doing right or wrong, if you don't get any feedback. Whether it's in the form of a survey or a more personal approach, do what you need to figure out how you can improve. A continual improvement in student satisfaction will yield continued business, more often than not.