Try as you might to be welcoming and warm as well as professional and polished, you won’t be able to retain every single student. Even when you implement priority enrollment to express appreciation for returning students, not all of them will return. And if you care, each loss will sting. But how you respond—and that you reach out to them – is extremely important, on several fronts. Maybe you already communicate with non-returning dance families. But in case you don’t, we’ll lay out what we hope will be a pretty convincing argument for doing so – and then some suggestions on exactly how to go about it.
Show You Value Individuals and Relationships
As we’ve discussed in other posts, it’s becoming increasingly important to focus on relationships and individualized communication that shows you care about individuals. In keeping with the general rules of communication, don’t jump to conclusions or assume anything. Sure, sometimes families will leave your dance studio angrily and jump to a competitor. But there are other reasons, too, and unless you take the time to connect, you really don’t know what you’ll discover.
Maybe a family trip ended up overlapping with your online registration period, or financial difficulties have forced them to drop extracurriculars. (Maybe you have a scholarship program available, and they could benefit from one of them.) On the other hand, maybe dance class is getting crowded out this season, due to other commitments, but their intention is to return in the spring. (And perhaps they’ll be more likely to return if you’ve reached out to let them know they’re missed.)
Use Information for Future Growth
Even if your fears are true and a family’s reason for not returning is that they have decided to go to a rival dance studio, you want to know exactly why your competitor appears to them to be the better choice. You can use that information to make changes to your own dance studio in order to prevent other students from leaving – and who knows, maybe you’ll win back some currently non-returning ones.
Even the family from whom you hear criticism may not be a permanent loss. In fact, when you take the time to let them know they’re missed and respond to their explanation in a positive way, they’ll be more likely to return; otherwise, they may feel too embarrassed to even consider it. You might be surprised how much you’ll gain by letting them know you miss them and then responding to a negative response with a positive follow-up e-mail. All you have to do is let them know that you appreciate their honesty and feedback and would welcome them back in the future.
In addition to potentially winning back former dance families, communicating with non-returning students can help you strengthen your dance studio’s position in the market. Your reputation for valuing relationships and engaging in open communication will be sure to get around – and impact your dance studio’s future growth.
Read our article on How to Reconnect with Former Dance Students.