Before the summer hits it is important to schedule plenty of school related activities. You will want your students to know in advance all the fun that they will miss if they are not around. Post your summer schedule in an area of the school where you can refer to it during your class announcements. Also, include the schedule in your newsletters, and hand out the schedules to students and parents as well.
Also, be sure to schedule events that students can easily bring friends and family to. Some winners are picnics, bowling/golfing parties, movie nights, lock-ins, buddy days, pizza parties, special training sessions, and laser tag night to name a few.
Create a vacation log. Then announce in your newsletter and in classes that students who are going on vacation need to sign the vacation log.
Your vacation log should have a space for the students name, phone number, departure date, return date, and the location they are visiting. Leave some business cards next to the log, and invite the students to mail vacation postcards to the school. Let the students know that the postcards will go up on a bulletin board so their classmates may read about their trip.
This will help the student think about the studio while they are away.
Using the information obtained in the vacation log, call the students a day or two before they are returning into town. Leave a message on their answering machine welcoming them back into town. Offer the student extra classes or make-up lessons to help them feel comfortable about their return to the school. If the student doesn’t have an answering machine, then simply send them a “We Miss You” postcard. Even consider having some of their classmates sign the card.
Early Make-Up Classes
Most studios offer make-up lessons for students who missed classes while they were on vacation. However, consider adding a “new twist” by giving your students the chance to make-up classes before they leave town.
Students that will miss several weeks will appreciate being able to make-up classes, even before they’ve left for vacation. They’ll find this especially helpful if they are required to attend a certain number of classes before they can test for their next stripe or belt. But best of all, they will be more likely to pay their tuition over the summer even though they may have missed some classes.
Test Make-Up Policy
Another tip that helps in retaining students during the summer is to offer make-up belt or stripe exams. Students can take this exam either before or after their vacation just as long as they have the required amount of classes and are ready to test. This policy works especially well for “A” rated students since they are typically ready to test first.
Add Flexibility to Your Schedule
Another way to increase your summer retention is to create a summertime schedule. By offering morning classes to children and adults, you give the students the opportunity to take class for the day, while still having plenty of daylight hours left to spend with their friends and family.
Also, if students can’t make their assigned classes let them come to another class that they can make. A student attending class of a lower rank, for example, is better than a student not attending class at all.
Preventing summer dropouts before they happen is much easier than trying to get someone back in the school after they’ve missed several months of training. Taking the time to implement these retention techniques is well worth it. As students come to you and give you reason’s why they need to stop for the summer, take the time to really listen to what they are saying. Try to find a solution that will keep the student at least somewhat active and keep them on the road to black belt.