Here are 10 questions you should ask all new parents starting with you this school year.
With the new academic year comes a host of new families to your school. For most schools, at any one time, about 15% of your parents are new parents. Of course, this number may be higher depending on your specific organization, in which case it’s all the more important you do what I’m about to explain.
New parents and guardians represent many great opportunities to improve your enrollment for years to come, and if you have a great “onboarding” process, you have the chance to increase their connection and loyalty to your school.
Reach out to your new parents to ask the following questions:
1. What school did your children attend before our school?
If you are a high school or have transfer students, fortunately, you should already have this data.
If your school starts at kindergarten, this is a great opportunity to see which pre-k is sending the most kids to you — which is great information to know as you build relationships with those “feeder” (or partner) schools.
Take this data and analyze it to understand what your feeder patterns look like.
2. What are the names and ages (birth dates) of your student’s siblings?
Don’t ever take a sibling’s enrollment for granted.
Now that you know their ages and names, you can reach out to them. A birthday card or even a t-shirt that says “Future Trojan, Charter Academy Class of 2026, etc.” helps build the expectation they will come to your school.
3. What is your profession — or what skills do you have that you could “donate” to help our school?
Wouldn’t it be great to know that Mr. Jones is a talented web designer who could be tapped for help? Or that Ms. Smith owns the largest insurance agency in town and would be a good development target?
Having volunteers who can staff a bake sale table is great. But being able to leverage the expertise of your parental base to help with more strategic needs of your school is even better.
4. How did you first hear about our school?
This question tells you how effective your marketing efforts were.
If they mention that a friend whose children attend your school was the source, ask who it was. Then, gather up those names and recognize the parents who are truly spreading the word and are your ambassadors.
5. What other schools did you consider?
Knowing who your “competition” is will help you differentiate yourself against them. You also want to ask a couple of follow up questions:
What did those schools do better than us?
What did those schools do differently than us in recruiting?
Learn from these other schools. If they are doing an innovative thing in their student marketing, then steal and adopt that idea for your own school.
Also be sure to ask new parents and guardians, “Why did you choose our school?”
Here is where you learn what marketing message is truly resonating with your potential families. You will learn what your true “brand identity” is in the marketplace.
6. Do you have friends who would be interested in our school?
Word-of-mouth marketing is the best means of recruiting. It never hurts if you can identify people who these parents know and encourage a visit.
For example, your families likely have parent friends who have children around the same age as their own child(ren). Encourage them to recommend your school to these parents.
7. Would you be willing to share a testimonial?
They are still excited, and your school has that “new car smell” to them. Ask them to post a little something on Facebook, like about how happy they are that “we chose school X for our children.”
Also, don’t just ask only new parents for testimonials. You should be constantly soliciting these from your “pre-existing” parents.
8. Make them brand ambassadors in the community.
Give the new parents a t-shirt or a coffee mug with your school’s logo. Better yet, give them a car decal or magnet so they can proudly tell the world that their child attends your school.
9. Set them up with a mentor.
If you want to strengthen the community at your school, you need to help build connections between parents. It can be hard to come to events when you are the new parent.
Knowing a friendly face (or having someone who is not part of the administration) to ask questions to can go a long way in helping them feel like they’re a part of your community.
10. Thank them — and make a promise.
New parents and guardians are trusting you with their most precious asset: their children.
Thank them for their trust in you and promise to be the best school that you can be. When I say this, actually reach out to them and do this.
Have an administrator call each new family about six weeks into the semester. Thank them, and ask them how things are going.
Was the onboarding process good? Are they settling in?
Little touches like this matter and you better believe that they will tell their friends about that call.
Engagement early and often with new parents to your school can be incredibly beneficial to your recruitment efforts, but just as importantly, it can also help them feel welcome and build your school community.
Looking for help with your family engagement and recruitment efforts?