You’ve probably spent a lot of time and money on marketing and selling your classes to parents and students. Don’t waste all of that effort. Parents and students will have expectations as to the quality of your program. If you fail to meet or exceed these expectations, you can be sure they won’t enroll next session. Worse than not re-enrolling is spreading the word about their dissatisfaction with the program. A bad reputation on the street will hurt your business short- and long-term.
This guide will show you the key actions needed to keep the quality of your program high. By following these actions, you’ll be able to provide students with an enriching environment while turning parents into ambassadors for your program.
Communicate with Parents
Yes, you have to talk to your customers. Crazy, right? Communicating with parents will help head off any problems that might come up. However, don’t abuse communication channels by sending out spam. Consider the following 3 categories:
1. Reminders: communication with parents regarding previously stated information. For example, no class next week
2. Changes: communication with parents regarding changes to the schedule or location. For example, class will be canceled tomorrow due to poor weather conditions.
3. We’re on top of it: communication with parents to let them know you are aware of an incident and you are taking steps to resolve it. For example, one student pushed another student.
The goal is to reach out to parents before they reach out to you. Parents expect that you know everything all the time and whether that is a valid expectation or not isn’t the point. By reaching out to parents before they reach out to you, you give them the reassurance that someone is watching over their children.
Sit in on Classes
Don’t assume that classes are running well just because you haven’t heard a complaint. Rather, assume that classes can always be improved. That means sitting in on the class. Making sure the activity space is appropriate for the activity. Or, making sure the teacher can handle the number of students enrolled. You will only know when you go to the class.
When sitting in on a class, you should be blown away. If you’re not, then something needs to be fixed. It could mean that you need to move the activity to another area or bringing in an assistant for the teacher. The point being, you won’t know until you get there.
One of the biggest quality control mistakes is not showing up to class enough and not making the necessary adjustments. This is called “settling”. Programs that settle will inevitably receive poor reviews, lack student retention and lose out to the competition.
Once you’ve sat in class and noticed a problem, be sure to fix it right away. Don’t hope that it will magically fix itself. Little problems left on their own will turn into big ones. Fixing problems has two benefits. The first is you’re improving your program. The second is you can use it as an opportunity to reach out to parents.
Long-term quality control entails fixing the issues not merely putting on a band-aid. Head off problems in the future by making the necessary adjustments to your program, policies, or curriculum. If you continually notice that one instructor cannot handle 18 kids you should consider always having an assistant or lowering the maximum.
Fixing problems now and making the necessary changes can help prevent things from happening in the future.
Give Teachers Support
Giving teachers support can have a huge impact on the program. Giving support means providing teachers with the appropriate tools for them to succeed, and that includes things like equipment, class space, curriculum, an assistant, etc. Instructors are often blamed for problems that occur during a session, when in fact, a little support could have prevented the situation.
Sometimes teachers won’t share feedback for fear that they might look like a bad teacher. This is why you’ll want to sit in on classes. By doing so, the teacher will feel comfortable sharing problems or ideas on how to make the class better. Happy teachers equal successful teachers. Teachers that don’t feel appreciated or supported will not share crucial information with you that could make for a better class or information that could prevent a big problem from happening.
Listen to your teachers, give them feedback, and provide them with the tools they need for success. Again, once you notice something that needs to be fixed, you should change a policy or procedure to prevent it from happening in the future.
Send out Surveys
When writing this article we considered not including surveys. Our fear was that the use of surveys can have a negative impact on your program if not used correctly. Surveys can be extremely helpful in identifying problems and strengths of your program. Reviews are often confused with surveys, but keep in mind they are not interchangeable. Surveys should be used sparingly and not sent out to every class every session.
When creating a good survey, you should be able to extract useful data and create actionable items. Here is an example of a bad question: Rate your experience 1–10.
This is a bad question because you don’t know what the parent is factoring in their answer. They could be thinking of the signup process, the communication process, the instructor, what their child told them about the program, etc. Be as specific as possible. Use this to determine what you’re doing well and what needs to be fixed.
Use professional survey tools to make your life easier. Tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms are great and easy to use. Be sure to send the survey to yourself before sending it to parents. Check for broken steps, grammatical errors, or vague questions. Once you have a great survey you can continually reuse the questions to track your quality over time. If you receive 9-star ratings for your instructors one year, and 7 stars the next, you might have a problem that needs fixing.
It might sound obvious, but staying organized will be the key to success. As noted above you have your hands full during the session. Staying organized will help you get things done. Getting things done means the quality of your program will increase. Increasing the quality means higher student retention rates. High student retention rates mean you’re doing the right things.