While a customer may find you by accident, whether or not they stay with you is most definitely a choice!
These days, when there are so many options for children’s activities that you must inspire your families to stick with you. And what really sends them over the top is you. Well, more specifically, it’s their experience when both parents and children are in your facility.
Regardless of whether your facility is large or small, you can create memorable experiences for every family and student that comes through your door. These memories will be indelible imprints that are triggered each time a friend asks them about where their kids take lessons. This is how you create loyal customers and great evangelists for your facility.
It’s easier than you think. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture and it doesn’t need to cut into your profits.
Make sure they are more than wowed but also thanked. Appreciating that they have selected you is important to articulate to them on a regular basis in different ways.
Examine your customers’ behavior to learn their preferences and habits and then cater to them in an individual way when you see them in your facility and when you reach out to them electronically.
Making notes in Jackrabbit allows you to keep little details that can make your interactions with your families very personal and very effective. Keeping track of information such as those among your families who attend extra events, the mothers who respond to requests or students who purchase from your store can give you great basic information for personalizing communications with these customers. Sometimes being the preferred choice is about the special attention or added extras that show you care that they are your customer.
A Parents’ Wine Tasting Night instead of your typical Parents’ Night Out is a great idea for making your facility’s parents feel special. Gift wrap items from your store when you know it is being purchased for a gift. Some stores always use cute decorative gift bags with matching tissue paper and ribbon just so every purchase feels special.
Sometimes parents are very excited about gestures of appreciation that have nothing to do with your business. Maybe you present parents with massage coupons or healthful grocer gift cards when you want to thank them. This is also a great way to support your neighboring local businesses.
Show parents you care about their kids. Knowing details about your students is critical for teaching them but it also helps you to WOW them with their experience as well. Recognize birthdays and milestones. Talk to them about what they do (outside of your facility). Learning about special experiences and remembering them in conversations with students, shows that you’re interested in them as people – not just as kids in your classes. Parents will notice this and appreciate that you do it.
Know and Appreciate Your Customers
So all of these “personalizations” require that you know your customers. Without details, you can’t create the WOW experiences that will make a difference in your relationships.
To do this, you don’t have to be intrusive. Sometimes it’s as simple as paying attention! You can learn lots by just listening in your facility. Have conversations. Ask what else they do beside dance. Ask what their plans for the weekend are or what they are going to do over spring break or winter holidays. Talk to parents and learn more about their interests, their careers and their families. Track this information and use it to personalize the next conversation you have with them.
If you distribute a newsletter and can track your click-thrus, be sure to look at who looks at which content. This will give you mountains of information about each family’s interests and needs.
Use your business Facebook page to take a poll. This may not tie identities to answers but it will tell you what your parents’ consensus feelings are about any number of topics – even about how much they trust you as a service provider for their family.
You also may choose to survey your customers to learn even more about them. Be sure to track this information – and use it!
You may not be able to remember minute details about every customer and student. Perhaps you can start by getting to know your most active families first. This is often a good strategy because of the 80/20 rule where 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. Not only will this engage your best customers even more, it will also encourage and inspire referrals from them.
This is your secret weapon. It is proven that small businesses that engage with their customers have a competitive advantage over those who don’t make the effort. Getting to know your families and students on a personal level results in better service and gives you elated and loyal parents and students who have developed trust in you and will spread the good word about you to their friends.
Take advantage of this distinct differentiator (and other differentiators that Jackrabbit provides) and bring it to the next level by creating a wow experience and then personalize it whenever possible. The more personalized the wow experience is, the more memorable it becomes, therefore fueling your repeat and referral engine.
Know Your Competition
Really think it through when it comes to identifying your competition.
It’s easy to count the number of gyms or dance studios and say – oh, there are only 2 others like us in the community we pull students from – but you’re not being realistic or accurate with this data.
Your “competition” is any activity offered for children: gymnastics, dance, swim music, scouts, art clubs, book clubs, church activities. Each of these activities compete with you for participation from the children in your marketplace.
As you look at your competition, examine information from the school district (or districts) in your marketplace. This will be a great indicator of what your potential growth (non-growth) might be. If the number of children of your target age entering the school system is increasing, good for you! If it is flat, formulate a plan for a coming plateau. If the number is decreasing, take action to ensure that you maintain enrollment that will sustain your business.
Another aspect of knowing your competition is in the details. What is the range of their offerings? How much space do they have? What do they charge? How many instructors do they have? And what are their qualifications? How many classes can they run and what level of excellence does their curriculum reach?
Define what makes you different than them and use that information to educate them about why you’re a better choice for their children than the competition.
Appreciate Your Employees
It is a proven fact that appreciated employees are happy and happy employees generate more happy customers than do dissatisfied ones. Employees that are loyal to you, have become invested in your organization and are crusaders for making it better give you the best possible chance to make and keep your customers happy, loyal and part of your marketing plan.
Happy employees are the ones who stick with you and talk about how awesome you are. Be that awesome gym, studio or school where the best candidates want to work. It will make hiring much easier and drive employee retention higher.
The trickle down is the rise you’ll see in your customer satisfaction from your efforts with your employees.
Make Appreciation Part of Your Culture
When actions and attitudes become part of your reason for being, customers notice. There is a distinct difference in gestures of thanks and a culture of appreciation. Not only is the culture of appreciation more sincere, it weaves appreciation into more than an appreciation campaign.
Jackrabbit has found this true on multiple fronts. As Jackrabbit developed the initial culture that emerged as the company’s founders built the company. Their personal integrity, compassion and drive for excellence became ingrained in all who joined the team. Now, 15 years later, Jackrabbit is almost 70 employees strong and each team member believes in the culture. Jackrabbit’s clients see these traits and appreciate it. They believe alignment of cultural values has the greatest potential for excellence and Jackrabbit builds loyalty from that alignment.
Look at the loyalty you’ve already built with customers and employees. Identify gaps and get creative about how you can fill those gaps and create a culture of appreciation all around you.