3rd in a series of Thinking Outside the Box . . . Topic: Recruiting Students
Whose job is it anyway?!?
Do you think of yourself as a recruiter? When I’ve asked public school employees that question they usually respond with a blank stare that indicates they think that’s the dumbest question they’ve ever been asked.
But if you aren’t recruiting students to your school, who is? Or do you find the very idea of recruiting repulsive? Or do you and your districts simply think you’re above that? Heck, you’re a public school and the residents in your district are lucky to have you…right?
Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, families today have lots of options. And if you haven’t done so yet, you and your colleagues need to develop a mindset of recruiting students. In a previous blog I reported on three suggestions to help improve tours you give to families who are considering moving to the district. Now that you’ve thought about the tours, take the next step: How are you going to generate more tours from prospective students and their families.
Now if you’re thinking, “That’s not my job.” There’s no need to read any further. But if you don’t think it is your job (and in fact the job of everyone else in the district) then you better start looking for a new job because you aren’t serving your employer well.
Explore your own back yard
Now that you have learned about a premium item to represent your school, and now that you know ideas to prep for a great tour, it’s time to start thinking about where you going to look for new students. I’d encourage you brainstorm a list of what in the industry calls decision influencers. Decision influencers are those people who make recommendations to others. So who are the decision influencers for families trying to select a school district? Here are a few that come immediately to mind for me:
• Realtors. People who are showing homes to families moving in to your community.
• Corporate human resource officers. People who work at local companies who are recruiting families to your community.
• Economic development organizations and Chambers of Commerce. Those institutions that are actively promoting you community as places to work and live.
• Bankers. People who help people new to your community to secure mortgages and open up checking and savings accounts.
• Welcome Wagon and Newcomer Clubs and Junior Welfare Leagues. Do any of these organizations exist in your community?
• Your own employees and your parent organizations like PTAs and booster clubs. Always, the most overlooked group of supporters are those closest at hand that also have a vested interest in your success.
That’s Step 1: Identify the decision influencers in your community.
Step 2: Cultivate their interest. Go out and talk with them. Invite them to a meeting. Make them an insider who gets the inside scoop before others. This is an on-going process that can’t be completed in one meeting. Do this over, over and over again.
Step 3: Provide them with support materials. How will you make their life easy? What materials or other resources can you give them to make it easier for them to recommend you over the neighboring school districts?
Step 4: Thank them. When you are fortunate enough to get a referral from a decision influencer (or anyone for that matter), remember to send a thank you note. You might choose an email, a phone call or a hand written note. But thank them, sincerely and profusely because they have given you something that is worth more than you can imagine.
It’s time to start recruiting students—make that families—to your district. Do you have a plan?