When a new student enrolls, it can be a bit overwhelming for him or her. He or she can easily get lost in the shuffle if we, as instructors, don’t pay close attention. It’s important that we make new students feel as comfortable as possible. Prospective students need to be treated as special guests and in such a way that they immediately feel right at home.
Here are some ideas for creating a welcoming environment for new students.
1. Introductory Class
Take time during the introductory class to build rapport, not only with the prospective student but with his or her family as well. It’s important to interact and engage with each member of the family. Learn about the goals of every new student to help set him or her up for future success.
2. Progress Check
After the first few classes, set up a progress check conference with the student and parents. This may only take a few minutes, but it will go a long way in ensuring a positive experience. Ask your student what they think of your school and what their favorite part of the program is so far. Make sure to point out to the parents the progress and improvement that the student has already made.
3. Phone Calls
During the first few months of training, there are a few things we always want to cover with new students. Be sure to follow up early and thank them for enrolling at your school. When doing so, inquire if they have any questions at this point.
Remind new members of special events coming up, specifically ones that may help them make new friends in the school. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals at this point. Chances are they came to you through a referral, and it will be a great opportunity for them to add friends to the class.
4. Good Job Note
Every child loves to receive mail, especially when it’s a note from their instructor saying they did well in class. We send a “Good Job” note to every student’s home immediately after his or her first class. We also make an effort to make sure all the students receive a note before the end of each graduation cycle. These simple words of encouragement can motivate beginner students and promote good behavior in class.
5. New-Student Orientation
We host a new-student orientation approximately every other month. This is a general meeting for all new members to attend, to review the goals and benefits of training at your school. It’s also a great time for an open question-and-answer session. During this meeting, we can cover other services that we offer such as birthday parties, private training, school presentations, upgrade programs, etc.
6. Build an Online Community
New students need to be given the chance to form connections with other students in your school. The more meaningful those relationships are, the more likely those students are to continue training with you. One of the many ways to help create those connections is to form a Facebook group for students currently training in your school. Aside from giving you a quick, easy way to communicate news and updates to your students, it gives your students an exclusive place to talk, share, and connect.
The experience a new student has in the first few months is crucial to his or her long-term success. Think about everything you can do, both on and off the mat, to make new families feel informed and welcome in your school. Make these things a priority and you will not just gain a new student, you will have gained a new member to your martial arts family.
Martial arts instructors and school owners, how do you welcome new students in to your school? Do you use any of these methods, or variations of them?
Parents, how was your child welcomed when he or she started at a new martial arts school? Do you think how they were treated in those first few weeks made a difference in their overall attitude and desire to learn martial arts?
Jason Flame has been involved in teaching martial arts since he was 17. Today, he is the owner and Chief Instructor of the Tang Soo Do University and its school satellite programs in California. Flame holds a 6th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and a 1st Degree black belt in Ketsugo Jiu-Jitsu. He serves the martial arts community as a MAIA Elite International Consultant, helping fellow martial arts school owners improve their businesses.