by Greg Silva
Do you have a referral system? The answer is obviously yes. You either have a well thought out system or you just wing it - but those are both systems.
I find when most school owners say they have a system it is based on rewards. People give the school a lead and the school will give them a reward.
I have two challenges with this. One - when a student enrolls in your school, your focus should be giving them service. Asking for referrals right away is asking the new students for a favor when you should be asking how to help them. And two - when someone agrees to pay you for lessons, they are not agreeing to pay for lessons and help you get more students.
Am I against referrals? NO!! I just want to have students provide referrals because I am giving them better service. I am thinking how to make their experience better in my school.
- When a prospect is making an appointment, I ask if they would like to bring a friend along. I explain this is often more fun and more comfortable when coming to a first lesson.
- When a student enrolls, I ask them if they have a friend they would like to bring for 3 classes. I tell them they only thing more fun than taking martial arts is training with a friend.
- I immediately give a new student a pass for a PNO. I explain to the parents that being part of the school's social life is important. Kids look forward to making friends at the school. I also give free passes so they can bring a friend to feel more comfortable.
- Occasionally we do Punch and Lunch. Adult students can bring a buddy to train with followed by a lunch. Make it easy for students to bring a friend by having guest passes or invitations.
- When doing the mat chat after the stripe test, I look at the parents and say something like, “Hey parents! Congratulations on raising a positive child in what is sometimes a negative world. If you happen to have a friend who’s kid might need some help, please pick up a Guest Pass before you leave. We are always trying to inspire others."
- November and May are appreciation months. We thank students and give them a VIP Guest pass worth $150 (4 weeks of classes and a uniform) that they can give to a friend.
- If a student does refer a buddy, I personally award a Free T-shirt to the student in class saying something like, "Hey Chris. I want to thank you for referring your friend Steve. The biggest compliment you can give me is trusting me enough to refer a student. Thank you."
- At the end of the school year and the start of back to school, you would do well by having a “BUDDY BASH”. Students are given enough Buddy Bash Passes to give to every kid in their classes. These are two events that are free. There is a big difference in kids inviting other kids to a party instead of classes. Friends sometime are afraid to take a class because they feel they might not do well. On the other hand a party is just plain fun. Once in the school and after meeting the instructor, it's easier to get them to try a class.
- Have table of guest passes available out at all times.
- Create popular events that students will want to attend with friends: Women’s Self Defense, Dad’s Hitting Pads, Stand up Against Bullies, The ABC’s of Success, Summer’s out Safety Day, Halloween Party, Valentines Party and more!