Are you a school owner looking to grow your private school? Learn how to build an effective customer referral program for your school.
Many private school owners and administrators don’t know about or understand what referral or word-of-mouth marketing is. Even those that have heard of it, either don’t think it matters or don’t have a clue of how to implement it in their schools.
For many school administrators, influencing parents to want to tell others about their school is a very difficult task.
Here, we are going to explain how you can create not just any referral program but an effective referral program.
First, let’s understand what a referral program is all about.
What is a referral program?
A referral is a favorable mention from another individual. It is an endorsement or a good word or a commendation from another individual about you or about your business.
A referral program includes several deliberate strategic actions that you engage in to attract or bring in new customers from existing customers. It is a deliberate and organized process in which your clients or customers are appreciated formally with gift rewards when they spread a good word about your company.
In this case, a referral program is a tactic that you employ to use your students/teachers/parents to bring in new enrollments to your school.
Steps to creating a referral program.
- Focus on delivering quality
Before you even start thinking about implementing a referral program in your school, make sure you are consistently delivering on your brand promise.
Is your school delivering an exceptional experience? Is your school meeting and exceeding expectations? What are the unique and exciting things about your school that would make families eager to tell others about you?
You need to be exceedingly good and unparalleled in one or several things to make families fall in love with your school. This love and pride in your school are what would make them tell others about your school.
When your school impresses prospective families, they will be happy to refer you to others in need of schools for their wards. If your school is simply not worth it, your referral program will fail, no matter how well planned it is.
You need to identify your unique selling point and invest more resources in it to make it greater.
- Share your school’s success stories
Everyone loves a good story. Stories are a powerful marketing strategy. Use stories in your referral marketing strategy.
Do you have inspirational stories about your school? Did your students do well in an international competition, or are your staff volunteering in a community medical outreach?
Whatever the case, create a compelling story around it and share it on your website, in your email newsletters, and on social media.
Link social media share buttons to these stories and encourage parents to share.
- Set up goals
First, decide what you want to achieve. Do you want more student admissions, for example? Setting goals will keep you focused and determined. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
That is, you can ask yourself how many students should your school graduate the next year? Put a number, one that is feasible, and begin with that.
- What is your marketing message?
Now that you have set up the goals you want to achieve, what then do you want to say? How exactly do you intend to phrase your message? In what way and in what form? Decide how you want your referrals to tell others about your school and what you want them to say.
Will you give out flyers, send out newsletters, create a shareable link to your school’s promotional videos, or provide links to downloadable materials?
You need to have an answer to these questions to guide you when you set up and implement your referral program.
Remember to state your message clearly. This idea goes beyond what to say. It also includes how and when do you need to say something.
- Make a list of potential referral sources
Next up is to make a list of referral sources. Your referral sources comprise individuals that are likely to get your message across. The teachers, students, and their parents are a good source of referrals.
Jot down these sources. If it is possible to write down specific names, prioritize them and estimate their potential impact.
- Create and implement a referral program
You can now go-ahead to create a plan and enforce it.
Here are a few steps in creating and implementing a referral program.
Create a reward system: What reward will you give to referrals? Every new student that enrolls in your school, the referral gets a reward. Experts go as far as suggesting that, you give bonuses even when a new student hasn’t registered.
This method will push your referral to at least try. Put in mind that when you create a reward program, be transparent with the requirements.
Parents-Teacher Association Meetings: This is the best place to win the heart of parents and get referrals for your school. Introduce your school’s referral program in these meetings.
- Evaluate and track your referrers and referrals.
You can use an excel spreadsheet or an automated landing page to collect information and track referrers and referrals.
Take a closer step towards building an excellent referral program by monitoring the results and evaluating the outcomes. See how many students were enrolled from whom, that is the referral sources.
Next up, assess how the sources achieved this and put more resources into that area. Yes, you have to try all angles, but distributing more resources to an area that will pay is more efficient.
- Send emails
Emails and newsletters should be a key tool in your referral program. Your email should be beautifully designed and reflect the brand of the school.
Add a link to your referral program at the bottom of every email you send out to prospective families. In this email newsletters, politely ask your readers to share your newsletters and refer others to you.
- Say thank you
The last and virtually the most important, appreciate your referrals. No, the rewards don’t cover this, go to them and say thank you. You bet, this will only give them more reason to promote your school.
Building a referral program will not produce good results overnight. You will have to take your time with it. With the tips I have suggested, you won’t find it difficult to get referrals to your private school.
How we can help you grow your school
These strategies will boost your student enrolment, revenue, and sustain the growth of your school. These growth strategies are currently used by over 10,000 schools and 15.000 school owners.
We have helped increase the annual revenue of schools from N8 million to N150 million in less than three years. We have also helped schools double their business in 2-4 years with our Nova School Growth Strategy.