Ever wish you could automate student enrollments at your studio?
As I’m sitting down to write this entry I’ve just finished a consulting call with a new studio owner. She’s owned a studio in the past, has recently started teaching again, and has recommitted to doing things the “right” way this time.
On the call the very first thing she asked me was how to use the Compete Services software to do online enrollments. My experience has taught me that studio owners have learned from other dance studio management software companies that this is absolutely the pinnacle of automation. Why would you run your studio any other way? Just put up a website and add our online enrollment software. Students will magically fall right into your hands. You don’t ever have to hassle with enrolling students ever again. Think of the time you’ll save. Think of the money you’ll make!
But, the reality is that it simply doesn’t work that way.
I’m a numbers guy. I want results that are repeatable, sustainable, and reliable. I don’t want “good ideas” that don’t really pan out in the real world. Show me a studio that is getting better results with some sort of online enrollment system than I am with my system and I’ll switch. You’re not going to be able to, and the reasons why might not be so intuitive.
(Now, before you read on, let’s make one thing clear. The Compete Services software can do online enrollments, and there are a couple of scenarios where using that service might make sense. But, you should absolutely consult with us before diving right in and using it. There is a really good chance that we’ll be able to find a better way of doing what you’re trying to accomplish.)
It creates more work, not less work. This happens lots of ways.
Most studios underestimate the amount of work that goes into setting up and managing something like this. Do you have to charge each student a consistent amount for each class? What about family discounts? Do you offer discounts for students enrolled in multiple classes? Is there a certain time of year that enrollments are open? Does tuition vary depending on the time of year a student enrolls? What about registration fees and down payments? The list of variables go on and on. How many are you going to really track? Just because software can do something does not mean that it should. (Go back and read that line again.)
What happens when a student enrolls in the wrong class? Do new students know exactly what level they’re supposed to be in? On the first day of class you end up with frustrated teachers, and frustrated students. Your schedule might have to be redone because you had expected a certain enrollment, and actually ended up with something else. New students and staff members lose respect for your studio.
Do you really expect new students to be able to look at your schedule, pick a class, enroll in that class, and show up for that class prepared with no input from you and your staff? Naive! Unprofessional!
It forces you to compete on price.
Think about it. Supposedly, people are looking for dance classes online and find your site. They can enroll online and see the prices listed. What’s to stop them from searching for cheaper prices at studios in the area? How would you know if they were doing this or not?
Are you really looking for bargain shoppers that are willing to sign up for a class sight unseen? Or, do you want to attract committed students that are training with you because they truly believe you offer the best value even though you charge much higher prices?
We do not recommend you compete on price. We do not want to be the Wal-mart of dance studios. We avoid any strategies that require us to compete on price.
It causes bad student organization.
What happens to your student database when a current student tries to enroll in a new class. Do they have to create a new student record? Will you end up with duplicate students in your list?
This is bad software design in the first place. Imagine this scenario. A student registers for a class one day by visiting your site and filling in all of their information. The next day decides to enroll in another class. Rather than logging in and adding a class they simply visit your site and fill out the form for the other class. You now have two different students in your system enrolled in two different classes, but they represent the same person!
How long will it take you to figure this out? How will this mess with your studio statistics, your attendance policies, future marketing efforts, and your customer service strategies.
Never expect a user (especially a new one) to use your software the way you expect them to.
It’s a customer service nightmare.
If I’m trying to enroll in a class on your website and I encounter some sort of problem what do I do? Do I call you? Should I email you? Do I give up and call the next studio on the Google results page? Are you and your staff trained to help troubleshoot a technical problem with the software?
If I call or walk in to your studio and want to enroll do you direct me to the online enrollment feature, or stop what you’re doing and help me right now? What would your staff do?
This might be a minor reason not to use online enrollment features, but it is definitely a drip in the bucket. Every negative experience a student has with your studio counts. This is doubly true for new students.
Remember, the likelihood of something going wrong is directly proportional to the number of moving parts in the system.
It becomes very difficult to track statistics that are vital to your studio growth.
Maybe you aren’t far enough along in the studio business training that we offer to know how important many simple statistics are to your studio health. One of the most important stats to track is the number of students that are invited to enroll that turn down the offer. (And, as a corollary, why they didn’t enroll.) That one statistic can make or break a studio. With online enrollments it becomes virtually impossible to track.
On the other hand, with enrollments done by humans it is ridiculously easy. It can literally be done with a pen and a post-it.
Let’s take this one another step further. What do you do if this statistic is too low? Can you retrain your software to be a better sales closer? Not as easily as we can retrain a staff member to do the same.
It’s a red flag that the system you’re looking at doesn’t really know how to run your kind of business.
Online enrollments sounds like a good idea, right? Who doesn’t want a magic studio that fills itself with students and only requires a teacher and a dance floor? Reality is, whoever sold you on this idea probably doesn’t know what they’re talking about. For sure they’re not making as much money and enrolling as many students as they could be. Don’t let software salesmen sell you on how to run your studio. Trust people that are doing it.
The Good News
There is light at the end of the tunnel. The solution is not any more difficult. Call us and set up a consulting appointment. We can get you and your staff trained to easily and efficiently handle enrollments and track your statistics. Then you hand everything else over to us. You don’t have to worry about late payments, mixed up accounts, even human errors you might make entering data. Our friendly professional staff will help manage it all!
Ready to get started?