ENJOYMENT + CONNECTION + PURPOSE = RETENTION
If we look at RETENTION week to week, month to month and year to year (separate to "Covid-related-retention", which we will talk about in a different post) - I believe that for the most part, it comes down to these three key ingredients.
>> How happy the students are...
BEFORE class, on the way to the studio
As well as how evident that satisfaction, excitement and joy is to the parents (the bill-payers). Parents want their kids to be happy - it's that simple.
So this means a focus on fun, laughter, memorable moments, confidence-building, creativity, energy and endorphin-releasing activity. And finding ways to communicate and demonstrate the joy that the students are experiencing to the parents, so that they can see the value.
>> How connected students (and their parents) feel to the studio community.
One of the most important human needs for us all is a feeling of belonging and a need to connect. Our dance family is like a tribe, and the strength of the connection we create is directly related to the retention of our students and customers.
So in class we need to create group bonding experiences, provide personal attention to every student and help our students feel important, seen and valued.
And for their parents, we want to provide opportunities for them to connect with fellow families and make new friends, to feel like they share the mission for the studio and its values, and to become a little bit addicted to the sense of community that they get by being part of something like a dance studio family.
>> Purpose... and also progress. The WHY of the customer. For the student, WHY do they dance? For the parent, WHY does their child dance? (These two answers aren't always the same.)
What's the point? For some, the happiness and the connection might be enough, but for true longevity I believe this third ingredient of purpose is crucial.
People want to feel like they are achieving something. Getting somewhere. Moving towards a goal or some kind of finish line. Dancers who can see their own improvement, are more likely to stick with it. Parents who can see their child improving are more likely to keep paying because the value is evident.
So purpose in class and, with respect to training, is crucial. Performance opportunities, long term and short term goals. Projects to work on, reasons to reach targets etc.
And progress needs to be measured, celebrated and showcased. Not just progress from grade to grade, year to year, but with skills, confidence and performance too. It's sometimes hard for students themselves to see how far they've come, so the challenge for us is to find ways to help them see it... and learn to celebrate it for themselves