As we discussed in a previous post, hopefully we’ve convinced you that it’s important to connect with non-returning students, making sure to let them know you’ve noticed that they’re missing and would welcome them back. This step is an important aspect of any welcome program as you develop positive customer relationships. But we get it: it feels awkward. And you’ve never done it before. That’s okay: like any new method or system you implement, it will seem difficult at first, but with time, it will become more natural. And here at The Studio Guide, we’re here to help you along every step of the way.
Step 1: Generate a Report
The first thing you need to do is find out which former students aren’t returning; we recommend you do this before dance classes begin. With dance studio management software, you can usually look up and run an enrollment detail report, which will provide you with the data you need. As you hear back from non-returning students, you can also enter their reasons for leaving, allowing you to re-run this report to track retention rates and the reasons why students leave. Perhaps some instructors have higher retention rates than others or after certain levels, students had a higher tendency to drop out (or jump ship). All of this information can help you plan for the future and can guide you in making improvements to your program.
Once you start offering priority enrollment or reaching out to non-returning students, you’ll also be able to track retention rates from session to session and see whether implementing those added steps have positively impacted your retention rates.
Step 2: Draft an E-mail
We’re not gonna lie: this is the tricky part. You want to carefully word your message in a way that will make sense with a variety of situations and come across as concerned and helpful, without making any assumptions. You’ll want to be sure to include some details that could help create motivation to return. For instance, mention that their student will be missed by classmates as well as that missing a session may cause them to fall behind their peers. You’ll also want to inform them of any financial assistance options that your dance studio has available, in case that’s part of their reason for not returning – and that any such arrangement would be handled with confidentiality.
You will also want to let them know that you will be reaching out to them before the next session begins, inviting the student to return, perhaps even allowing them to participate in priority enrollment. Once you have a standard e-mail for non-returning students, you can save it as a template in your email marketing program, allowing you to personalize it before sending it out to additional students. We’ll go into further detail about personalizing your communications and sending follow-up e-mails in the paragraphs below.
Maintain Dance Studio Growth Through Reconnecting with Non-Returning Students
It’s so important to reconnect with any non-returning dance students! Not only will you ensure that they know you would welcome them back, but you’ll also stand to learn valuable information that can help you avoid losing other students in the future. Once you’re convinced of the importance of taking this important step, you’ll be ready to start drafting an e-mail to use as a starting point for a personalized message you can send out to each individual non-returning dance family. Dance studio management software and email marketing software can make saving e-mail templates and tracking communications easy! And it’s all part of improving your dance studio’s reputation as a warm, welcoming institution that truly values people as individuals and fosters relationship over achievement.
Sending out Personalized E-mail Messages
If you know your way around your dance studio management software, you realize that it would be far simpler to send out a mass e-mail; all you’d have to do is select all the non-returning student profiles from the enrollment detail report and click “send.” While we’re glad that most dance studio management software platforms allow you the potential for sending out mass e-mail messages, for non-returning students, we highly recommend taking a more individualized approach.
Once you have composed a basic template for your non-returning dance students, we suggest that you add some personal details to each one before sending it. At the least, add in your dance studio name as well as student and parent names. You may also want to include the name of the class or instructor for the dancer’s most recent session and any notable accomplishments or skills mastered during that time period.
Respond to Any Feedback You Receive
After you send out the individual messages, you can expect to receive responses, often including details regarding the reasons why a particular student failed to return. You’ll want to log that information so you can track trends in student attrition the next time you run that enrollment detail report. Once you record the information, you may have some feedback you wish to pass along to other staff members or questions to ask in order to understand a situation better.
When you’re ready to send a reply (and yes, we highly recommend that you take that added step!) be sure to begin by expressing appreciation for their response. Again, make sure to include some person-specific details. If it seems as if financial assistance or transportation information would be helpful, you will want to provide more information about that. Make sure to keep the tone conversational, and close with a reminder that you’d welcome the student and family back if they ever change their minds.
If you don’t hear back after a week or two, you might want to send another message at that point. And if you said that you would check in again before the next dance session begins, be sure to follow up and do that, too.