It’s known that I am a big fan of the free trial as a means of introducing new students to my dance studio. I have written about what I feel are the benefits of offering an unlimited free trial week. To summarize that previous post; letting a student explore all of the class options for their age and ability level means that you have the right students in the right classes and they stick around. That means happy students, happy parents, happy teachers, and a healthy bottom line for your dance studio.
If that sounds like what you want for your studio, keep reading. I am going to take you quickly through a winning process for offering free trial classes at your dance studio. Note: you could use the same process and charge a nominal fee for your trial classes if you prefer to. I have heard some studio owners say that they feel that if they don’t charge something for introductory trials that people take advantage of their studio’s kindness by doing their free trial classes and never returning. To that I would say that perhaps they need to meditate realistically on the quality of the experience that they are providing the prospective students. If your trials aren’t getting people excited about being a part of your studio, it might be time to think about what improvements could be made.
You don’t want your studio’s trial class system to create a ton of additional work for you or your staff. You also don’t want incoming inquiries to be falling through the cracks or time and energy lost to a never ending game of phone tag with your prospects. Use a scheduling software or app that allows your prospects to schedule their own age/ ability appropriate free trials right through your website. Select a software that is easy for you to set up and update, collects contact information from your new leads, automatically adds their appointment to your calendar and theirs, and sends them reminders about their appointment as well as an informational email to prep them for their visit. The software application that you choose should also be easy enough for you to set up within a matter of a couple hours at most.
You can use social media paid ads or posts to let people know about your irresistible offer and get them over to your website.
You do have a website that is both beautiful and informative, right? The homepage of your website or landing page linked to your social posts or ads needs to instantly convey the benefits that your students receive. A quick scan of your homepage or landing page should make your curious site browser excited to come to your studio so that their child can experience those benefits.
Then, the irresistible offer of an entire week to try every amazing class that you offer for their child’s age and ability level with no risk and no commitment should get them off the couch and in your door. Put a nice big “try a week of classes free” button at the bottom of your homepage or landing page that takes your guest straight to your scheduling app.
Now it’s time to get personal. All that automation to get your trials booked is great, but once they are, it’s time to reach out with some old fashioned human interaction. Even though your scheduling app has automatically emailed them with information about their visit, you should let them know that you’re happily awaiting your first encounter with them by picking up the phone and calling them. Take a few seconds to call and say, “ we are looking forward to meeting you and your child”, and ask if there are any questions that you can answer. Let them know that you are just a call or email away if they do think of any questions later, and that you are more than happy to help. Remember that parents that are new to the dance studio scene can feel a little intimidated or confused, and a little hand holding can go a long way toward creating a raving fan.
Prepare for Your Guest
Train your front desk staff and teachers to make your trial students and their parents or caregivers feel welcome, informed and ready to move forward in their journey at your studio.
Your front desk staff and teachers should know ahead of time when a trial student is coming in and they should be looking for them and waiting to welcome them warmly. You need to have a system in place to communicate with your staff about the trials that are booked.
When your new trial students arrive, they should be greeted warmly by name at the door by your front desk staff. Let them know that your studio is happy they are there. Bring them in and make them feel like family. Give them a tour. Introduce them to some of the students or parents in waiting areas. Show them where their class will be and introduce them to their teacher. Let the parents know where they can be during the class. Most of all, let them know that you’re there to answer any questions or assist with anything they need. Have some clear information about your pricing, policies and class schedule printed up and ready to share.
One of the great things about the trail class is that you can find out what level the new student should be placed in. It’s ok if the first trial class is not the right class for that student. It gives you a starting place, and you can then recommend the appropriate level to the student. However, whether it is the correct class placement or not, it is imperative that the student has every opportunity to have a happy and uplifting first experience at your studio. I give the following trial success checklist to my instructors:
- Introduce yourself to the new student and their parents.
- Introduce the new student to a buddy in the class. It’s a good idea to pair your newbie with a kiddo that naturally tends to be kind and nurturing. Give lots of encouragement throughout the class. Reassure your trial student that it’s okay if they don’t do everything perfectly today. Encourage them to just follow along as best they can and have fun.
- Give the student something to work on for next week. A fun assignment related to what you were teaching in the class will get the student really excited to come back and show you that they have been working on what you asked them to do.
- Talk to the parents after the class. Say something nice about their kid, address questions, suggest class placement.
- Jot a quick note on a postcard that we can pop in the mail.
The fortune is in the follow up. Of course, ideally we would like to enroll our trial student in a class or 3 before they walk out the door. Realistically however, they need to go home and think about it, check the family schedule, discuss the budget, etc. Put a follow up call on your calendar 2 days after the last trial class in their free week. Let them know again, how much you enjoyed meeting them and ask if there are any questions that you can answer or if they would like help getting enrolled.
Get Your Free Trial System Up and Running
If you’re ready to automate and activate your new student trial system this year with a step by step guide that you can get up and running in a matter of hours, check out the Grow Like a Pro eBook or online course. I have laid out exactly how I bring in new students all year long with an easy to start and easy to use class trial system. I’ve included templates for call scripts, success tracking tools, office staff and teacher training tools, and even postcard designs. Don’t let any more prospective new students fall through the cracks. Don’t waste any more time playing phone tag. Get new students into the perfect classes and keep them at your studio for years to come.