SchoolMint’s CEO, Bryan MacDonald, recently joined Ticker Ed to discuss K-12 enrollment trends.
This week, SchoolMint CEO Bryan MacDonald joined Enquiry Tracker’s Greg Campitelli and Mike Loder, host of Ticker Originals, to discuss K-12 enrollment trends, how school choice is changing education, and how schools must increasingly focus on customer service and listen to families.
Click the image below to listen to the interview on the Ticker Originals website, or read on to catch the highlights!
Enrollment Trends: A Marketplace
Once upon a time in education, an “if you build it, they will come” mentality existed across all levels of education. However, a paradigm shift has been occurring in recent years, exacerbated by a number of changes in the school system as well as real-world events.
Before this paradigm shift, “Parents would see themselves as the grateful client. And now, they’re saying, ‘I’m the customer here.’ If they’re saying that or thinking that, there’s a product purchase going,” explains Campitelli. “A transactional relationship is starting to occur, regardless of whether the family is paying fees.”
As MacDonald then goes on to explain, choice is driving much of the education market now. Because of this rise in choice and families increasingly expecting better customer service from schools, schools should work on building connections with families in their community rather than relying on the traditional “if you build it, they will come” mindset.
What’s driving today’s enrollment and choice trends? Well, a combination of things, as MacDonald reports:
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has driven roughly a decade’s worth of changes in a short period of time.
Funding isn’t as much of an issue. The days of families having to pay out of pocket if they wanted a school other than their local public school are long gone.
Charter schools and charter management organizations are more available.
Almost all public districts are supporting choice within their public schools.
Private schools are more accessible.
Schools Need to Differentiate Themselves
Because of the array of education options families now have, schools need to differentiate themselves from their competitors (i.e., other schools). MacDonald offers a few tips for what schools can do here:
Identify who you are.
Identify what you specialize in.
Identify what makes you different from other schools.
Once you know who you are, get that message out — on the web, on your social channels, and more. Create discoverability for yourself. Then, once families express interest, it is critically important to track those inquiries and provide great customer service.
A platform like SchoolMint Connect can help you with tracking family inquiries and nurturing a relationship that will help you earn their child’s enrollment.
Listen to Your Families
Listening to what parents and guardians care about is important to ensuring they pick your school. Some of the things they want (programs) are obvious. Some aren’t (what’s in the vending machine?).
But unless you’re engaging with and listening to your families, you won’t know what they actually want.
Schools are increasingly adopting the same competitive measures as businesses: branding, marketing, search engine optimization, and customer relationship management.
It’s no longer just enough to have a great band program. People need to know you have it and know that if they have questions, they can get help.
And it’s the schools who do that — who differentiate themselves, who engage with their community, and who listen to the people they serve — who will reap the benefits of healthy, sustainable enrollment.
Ticker Ed Top Tips and Takeaways
Ensure you articulate what makes your school special.
Reach out and engage with your community. Be connected!
Schools need to be good listeners to their families and community.