Being ‘welcoming’ is an important attribute for your organization to have.
The dictionary entry reads:
welcoming | adjective | /ˈwelkəmiNG/
Behaving in a polite or friendly way to a guest or new arrival.
If that is the definition, then being a ‘welcoming’ organization should be something that comes to us naturally, right?
You’d think so but sometimes distractions, such as being busy, handling an inconsolable student, a challenging parent or a frustrating phone call gets in the way of your intentions to welcome new and returning parents and students.
For that very reason, it is a good idea to put some official welcoming activities in place to ensure that your parents and students are, indeed, welcomed in the way that you intend.
There are lots of ways to ‘welcome’. From the simplest email plans to the more complex gift bags and parties, welcoming activities are great for promoting your creativity and showcasing your competitive distinctions.
Why are welcome emails important?
Parents love to enroll, manage and pay for their children’s classes online. You are challenged and blessed with using email to give them the best possible impression of your organization and to help them be prepared for their first day back or into your facility.
It’s to your advantage to provide them with as much information about you and your organization that you can, before they ever walk through your doors.
Because of the way this works, email should be a very important part of your communication strategy with parents and a critical factor in how you welcome them. Make sure your emails have the 6 ‘P’s – planning, preparation, personalization, precision, professionalism and personality – so that the impression that you want to present is delivered clearly.
We’ve provided help with some of these details, so read on!
How to write a welcome email
Don’t open your email application and simply write a welcome email on the fly. Taking the time to think through this email will pay off big time.
It’s not just about the words in the email, but about the information linked to the email that will make your initial welcome feel genuine to your families. Be sure you have all the information your student and her parents need like:
- Dress code information
- Yearly calendar
- Recital and/or competition information
- Hair tutorials
- Obtaining attire for class
- Tips for packing your bag
Do you need to create web pages that help your students and parents come to their first day of classes prepared? Or perhaps you facility has a blog where you can elaborate on and provide tips for a successful season. or blog posts to provide what students and parents need?
It may take time to gather this information initially but you only have to do it once a season. Preparing welcome emails in advance of your season will save you and your staff considerable amounts of time.
Now it’s time to write your email.
After you have your resources determined, created and linked, you can write your email. Tip: write your email using a platform that allows you to access and save your work from any location, such as Google Docs.
Once your email is perfected, you can delegate the actual task of sending it out to your front desk staff.
Focus on the following five sections to create the perfect welcome email:
- What to do upon arrival
- Support and clarification
- We welcome questions
Before your student and parent walk through the doors of your facility, they are almost sure to have a positive opinion of your organization.
Consistent communication is the key.
It’s best to appoint a time each week when your staff will email new enrollments to ensure that the task is done regularly, and so everyone will know that new enrollments have been contacted.
Consistent and reliable communication further entrenches your professionalism and your investment in their success in their minds.
Personalize your software’s automated email response to enrollment.
If you are using cloud-based class management software, double check what is happening when someone enrolls online. Make sure you’re using the automated email response feature that is personalized to the recipient. Don’t forget to enable notifications when new students enroll at your facility so that follow-up is easy peasy.
There are many other activities that can (and should) be on your welcoming agenda. You want your families to feel welcome because you’re just a good person that way. But did you know there are amazing benefits of developing relationships with your organization’s families.
11 things to do after you send a welcome email.
There are lots of things that you can do to make your welcoming activities first class.
Your clients will notice and appreciate your efforts to set them up for success when you do things as they arrive for their session that make them feel first class:
- Offer a tour of facility
- Raffle off fun, useful prizes
- Gift each student with welcome goodie bags containing at least one branded item – like bag tags and bottles of water
You can make students and parents feel more comfortable by:
- Putting class schedule posters in the lobby
- Having a staff member in the lobby to help parents and students acclimate to the facility
- Having a meet and greet for the last 5-10 minutes of each class for the first 2 weeks
You can keep parents and students informed about how your organization works by:
- Initially providing welcome handbooks
- Consistently distributing newsletters
You can do a few other things to welcome students before their first day arrival.
- Host an open house.
Students and parents can get a lay of the land and meet those who they will be spending time with during classes.
- Create a welcome video.
Post your DIY video on social media and link it to your welcome email. Video is huge these days. And good smartphone cameras make your spontaneous ones great. They’re easy to do and easy to post and use. Videos get more views than any of the other more static online elements we use.
- Snap selfies when you meet new students.
Take a moment to snap a selfie or have a staff member take pictures of you meeting students so they can be posted on social media.
Get the welcome email right.
It’s absolutely critical. It positions you for everything else you’re going to do. Then set your agenda for what comes after your welcome email carefully. There are lots of great ideas in this list but don’t think you have to do it all! Choose what reflects and fits your organization best and set your eyes on perfection! Doing less and doing it well is better than doing more that is mediocre.
Yes, the way you welcome your new or returning students and parents can be a defining differentiator for your organization. It can solidify your connections in a big and powerful way.