When studio owners ask me the secret to a thriving studio business, I always tell them to focus on retention. It may not be sexy or splashy. But a good retention strategy will make your bank balance look good, you’ll spend less on marketing and you can avoid the stress each season about your enrolment numbers. Sound good? Let’s dive in.
#1: Focus on First Impressions
Here are 3 things you should be doing to make a magical first impression.
1. Send a personalised welcome card
Every single student who walks through your studio doors is an individual who has chosen to be there. Little small touches like this will make them feel wanted and cherished in your studio. It doesn’t take much time to put a smile on the face of your new students.
2. Give them a personalised map of their journey at your studio
Everyone likes a plan and your students will love having a destination or a goal for when they attend your classes. You could have a goal setting session at the beginning of each term to really solidify it. Make sure students and parents have clear goals and they know where their goals can take them! Share your student journey, share how exciting it is to progress to the next levels. And celebrate their progress!
3. Have a welcome plan for the beginning of class
Think about the type of welcome you want to give your students when they enter the studio. Think about the energy you want to emit when your students come to class. Every class is an opportunity to re-enchant your students.
#2 Give Your Students a Reason to Stay
This is one of the simplest steps of studio retention. Simply checking in with your students (and their parents) and helping guide them in the right direction. After all, they’re there to learn, so making sure the learning is happening in a productive way is a fabulous incentive to get your students to commit to your studio.
Here are a few things you can do to help your students and keep them at your studio.
1. Create a progress map
Have a planning session with students (you can do this as a group), so you know what their goals are. You can never assume the reason why someone is attending your studio. They may have professional aspirations or they may simply want to have fun. Ask about their goals, listen and give them a map to achieve it. Make it clear what their next steps are once they reach their initial goals. And celebrate their wins as they progress to the next level!
2. Look out for flight risk students
Every fortnight or so check in with your students and see how they’re going. Is there a student that seems to be disengaging? One who is absent often? Think about what you can do to re-engage them. It might take some extra support but it will absolutely be worth it.
3. Check in often
Especially with your star students. They often get ignored because they seem to be flourishing but they will relish some specialised attention. Help them go above and beyond what they thought they could do and they’ll remember you forever.
#3 Make Sure Everyone Feels Special
Making sure each student feels welcome and included is one of the key ingredients to keeping your students engaged and loyal to your studio.
Here’s a few to get you started.
1. Use your student’s names
This one is so simple but as the owner of the studio, if you know and use the names of the students it creates a valuable connection. Many students have little contact with studio owners so if you know and use their name that makes them feel like a cherished part of your community.
2. Create that club feeling
Everyone wants to feel like they belong to something. Humans are pack creatures and we love to feel like we’re part of a community. Something as simple as a keychain or a t-shirt can go a long way in giving your students that feeling of belonging that they crave.
3. Every conversation is an opportunity for praise
Try to make every interaction with your students positive. Comment on how you noticed they’ve been working hard in class or how having them in class creates such a beautiful atmosphere.
#4 Make Re-Enroling EASY
1. Simplify re-registration
Our most successful studios assume retention! They avoid classes that stop and start and require constantly signing students up for the next class. There are so many creative ways to do this that we share in our new program, Retention Solution. It saves staff time, makes it easy for families, keeps classes full, reduces your marketing budget and keeps your bank account full. Win, win, win, win, win!!
2. Reward retention
Offer your students something in return for continuing their classes. Perhaps a branded drink bottle or tote bag to celebrate their third or fourth term at your studio? If you continue to make your students feel cherished in your studio, they will keep coming to your classes.
3. Don’t lose students over the summer!
Before they head to the beach, give them a knock-their-socks-off incentive for them to re-enrol for next year and pay upfront with a special offer.
#5 Create connection
My favorite Maya Angelou quote has always been: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
And that’s the theme of today. We want to dig deep and find ways to help you nurture your student relationships so that they feel cherished and loved at your studio. It’s not only the perfect way to build brand loyalty but also create beautiful lasting bonds with your studio alumni.
Here are a few ideas.
1. Get curious
Ask your students what they’ve been doing outside of class. What do they do for work? What are they studying at school? Are they getting married? Moving house? Are they expecting a baby sibling? Your students will be delighted if you enquire about their lives outside the studio and it creates a strong ongoing narrative in your relationship with them.
2. Communicate your student’s progress
Have your students set goals for their classes and regularly check in to ensure they’re on track to meeting them. It’s a beautiful way to show that you deeply care about their progress.
3. Go that extra mile
Call your star students’ parents to tell them how wonderful they’ve been in class. Send a note to your adult students to tell them how much you appreciate seeing them in the studio. No one knows what value they hold unless you tell them. So tell them often
#6 Please the Pack
Helping your students share what they love helps deepen their connection and commitment to your studio.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Honour your student’s connections
Host family days, or Bring a Bestie classes. Create a few opportunities each year for your students to expose their community to your classes. Humans love to share their love so give your students the chance to sing your praises.
2. Do regular showcases
Let siblings and friends come along and observe classes. Your students will love showing of their skills and you might even get a few new recruits!
This is your moment to focus on what truly matters in your studio. The students.
#7 Learn from the best!
Today we’re going to learn from the best and I’m sure you know who the best teacher in your studio is. It’s the one that has a waitlist of students eager to take their class. The teacher that past students always ask about when you see them on the street. That teacher who has that special sauce that has students always coming back for more.
Here’s how to harness the power of the best teachers and have it permeate throughout your studio.
Observe a class of your star teacher and see what happens. How do they interact with the students? What happens at the end of each class? How do they greet students? Take notes and pay attention.
2. Pass it on
Take those notes and pass them on to your other teachers. Give them a step-by-step list of actions to implement to get the same level of attention and interaction. Note – proceed with caution and present the notes as neutral advice so it doesn’t come across as an unfair comparison.
3. Regularly check-in
Make sure your team are sticking to the plan. It’s sometimes hard for your team to stay on top of student satisfaction and it’s your job to remind them. Have monthly check-ins where you can ask your team what they’re doing to achieve student satisfaction in their classes.
#8 Make Your Studio Memorable
You know when you go to a restaurant and the experience is just perfect? They put sparkling water on the table before you even ask, they have gluten-free bread and perfect wine pairings. And when you go home you keep talking about it because the experience was so lovely?
That’s what we’re going to do with your studio! Imagine your studio as a sparkling unicorn in a sea of brown horses.
Today is all about making your studio memorable.
1. Spruce up your entry
You only get one chance to make a good first impression so make sure your entryway is inviting. No one expects the Grand Hyatt but your entryway should be tidy, clean and welcoming. A few magazines, a comfy place to sit and a scented candle will make all the difference.
2. Create a dream list
There is not a single studio owner on the planet that has the time and budget to make all the beautiful changes they want to make right now. So create a dream list! You might want a decompression room for neuro-diverse students, or fancy new equipment or a specialist teacher. Never stop dreaming and aiming for the stars. Check in with your list regularly so you’re reminded of what you’re working towards.
3. Solidify your studio values
Make sure you know what your studio values are. Is it to create a safe place for your community? To compete in competitions? To provide an essential service for your community? Set your intention for your studio and make sure you return to it in a meaningful way every few weeks to keep your focus on the right track.
That was a lot of information! I want you to know how committed I am to your studio succeeding. Retention is a strategy I want all studio owners to focus on in 2023. It’s how you can double your studio numbers without spending time or money on marketing.
And if you want help, additional resources, templates and more to make sure your retention plan is in place and making you money this year, we have a new program you will love. >> Check out The Retention Solution
Retention strategies have been at the heart of my 2-year Studio Evolution program for years. It’s a key area of my expertise- and it’s why my own studios were so successful.
Because It is far easier to retain students than gain them.
Read that sentence again.
The solution to your studio woes is hiding in plain sight, and I’m here to help you implement it. As a studio owner, you know the massive cost, effort and time output it takes to get a new student to join your studio. Studio owners spend most of their time trying to attract new students with no real plan or strategy for trying to keep them.
That’s about to change with The Retention Solution.
I’ve created this signature plan to help studio owners to focus on what matters most. Let’s switch your focus to retention for this year with The Retention Solution. Increase your profit with less effort. It’s like magic!
Retention is the magic wand your studio needs in 2023.
Learn more and register here.