6 Strong Ways To Retain Students During Difficult Times
Growing your community and boosting retention rates has always been at the top of your mind. However, with a global pandemic on our hands, this feat has become increasingly difficult for small membership-based businesses everywhere. To maintain distance, you've likely had to close your doors to the public, and this has had an effect on your registrations.
During this unprecedented time, we would like to share with you some tips of retaining current members, even if you can’t provide in-person classes for the foreseeable months.
1) Send redeemable offers for when you return to regular operations
If you are limiting your classes or shutting down your school for the time being, offering your students an offer to use when you are able to open your doors again. This will help you maintain your relationships with your members while you aren’t able to provide your services.
Not sure what kind of offer to provide? If your margins are smaller and you can’t offer much of a discount, invite your members to buy a gift certificate or credits towards future classes.
Get started: Write a newsletter to current members with a voucher for a discount on services or a free gift, which they can redeem later. Using the engagement from the newsletter, you can segment your members by who clicked on the offer and follow up with them once you open up again to make sure they redeem it.
2) Showcase the value of your services
Unfortunately, right now many people are looking to cut down on costs and act conservatively with their finances. With food, shelter and savings as the foundation of their needs, other costs such as gym or recreation memberships may be one of the first things your members look to save money on.
Now is the ideal time to prove to your members the value of being a member of your community. There are various ways to do this, including:
- Hosting live education videos on a topic you have quite a lot of knowledge in
- Sharing exclusive how-to guides and lesson videos on demand or on a schedule
- Sharing stories of success your members have found working with you
Get started: Set up a time and date for a live Q&A session with your community, either on a social media livestream or on a one-way streaming platform such as GoToMeeting. Promote your event widely through social media and newsletters leading up to it, and invite your community to ask questions they may have.
3) Reduce small add-on costs for existing members
As you convey the value of your services to your members—many of whom may be going through their own financial hardships—it’s a good idea to offer immediate savings on your payment packages. Many people are taking note of how businesses treat their customers during this period and acting solely out of financial interest without support to the community will influence how your members move forward in conducting business with you.
Now is a good time to give back to your community and thank them for their support during a difficult time. Voice your appreciation, and make sure you acknowledge any concerns your members may have during this time.
Get started: If you offer tiers of services, or bundles on classes, consider consolidating them for the time being and inviting members to register for a reduced price.
4) Spread goodwill in your community
During this outbreak, it can be easy to feel powerless or that you can’t make a positive impact in the world. However, that is far from true. Small things we all do can add up to a huge change in the community.
There are many activities you and your community can take part in to support others, such as reaching out to provide necessities to vulnerable populations, donating to local charities, and more. In Grande Prairie, Alberta, the Grande Prairie Regional Emergency Partnership—or GPREP for short, has launched a program to make sure vulnerable residents can get the essential items they need while keeping themselves safe.
Get started: Reach out to your local hospital and ask if there is anything you can provide for staff during this time. Alternatively, you can reach out to a local organization which helps vulnerable populations—such as children, victims of abuse, or unsheltered people—and ask what they need during this time.
5) Focus on your digital presence
As you shift to online operations, take this opportunity to focus on your digital strategy and assess your tactics. Ask yourself any of the following to get started:
- What’s working?
- What isn’t?
- What do your strategies involve?
- Where are your gaps?
Remember: All of your interactions with members will be online, so you will need to increase your digital presence to be at the top of their minds whenever possible.
Get started: Build a content calendar with details on the topic, medium, and platform the content will be posted to. Try to schedule your content a week in advance, so that publishing it doesn’t get overwhelming.
6) Position your business as contactless
Finally, take care to be sure your members know that they can access your services virtually, or without being in close contact. Even if you feel your messaging is becoming repetitive, keep in mind that your members may not see every email, social media post, or blog post you publish.
There are multiple ways to go contactless, including:
- Online work-out classes
- Webinars and education sessions
- Equipment rentals for at-home workouts
Get started: Schedule social media posts, blogs, and newsletters to address how your members can access your services remotely. Make sure that you created multiple pieces of content to address this, as well.