The ideal school visit

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While school tours might happen naturally, it is important to develop an intentional strategy that will help your school stand out from the rest.

Let me give you a vision for an ideal school visit strategy.

A parent calls to set up a school visit. The Admissions Receptionist is friendly and very personable, and works to accommodate the parent’s schedule. After the visit has been booked, the Receptionist sends a reminder email with details about the visit, directions to the campus, information about parking and location of the office. The day before the visit, they send another email as well as a text message reminding the parent about the school visit.

On the day of the scheduled visit, the parent drives to your campus and easily sees your school sign. When they pull in, they see banners with your school’s key messages hanging from the light posts. The directional sign for the Admissions office is clear, easy to follow and leads them to a reserved visitor’s parking space. Rather than a generic reserved space, the sign actually has the parent’s and student’s names printed on it, creating a memorable first impression.

After walking to the clearly identified office, the parent knows they have arrived when they see the personalised Admissions welcome sign with their name on it.

Once inside, they are warmly greeted by the Admissions Receptionist with an “I’ve been expecting you” attitude. The Receptionist greets them by name and welcomes them to the campus, choosing not to answer the incoming phone call because the most important person is standing in the office.

A cup of coffee, or a glass of juice or water is offered to the guests. Pre-printed nametags with the first name of the parent and student are given to them to wear. The prospective parent and student immediately feel welcomed at the school.

While waiting for the Admissions Director, they complete an information form and relax on the leather couch. On the wall, a large flat screen TV displays scrolling pictures, significant statistics and key messages about the school in an attractive and engaging format.

Just minutes after their arrival, the Admissions Director enters the room and greets both the parent and the student. They proceed to the Admissions conference room for a conversation about the parent and student and their search for a school. Rather than telling them about the school, the Admissions Director focuses on getting to know them, as this will help direct the focus of the personalised tour.

After this conversation, a parent ambassador arrives to join them on the tour. Throughout the tour, several faculty and staff stop and greet the visitors. They knew in advance that they were coming to visit, as the Admissions Director had already sent them a message about this important tour.

During the tour, the Admissions Director stops in some select classrooms. In every class a student ambassador approaches the parent and student, personally welcoming them to their class. The student reaches out their hand for a handshake, tells them their name and gives an overview of what the class is currently doing.

Towards the end of the tour, the Admissions Director stops by the school Head’s office. Even though she was in a meeting with two Board members, she steps out of her office to welcome the visiting parent and student to the school. The Head gives the parent a school-branded coffee mug. The student is given a cool T-shirt and a ‘free pass’ to an upcoming basketball game.

At the conclusion of the tour, the parent and student sit down in the Admissions Director’s office to review the application process and to discuss any additional questions. This meeting is used to reinforce the tour, as well as to close the deal.

The Admissions Director then walks the parent and student out of the office, thanking them for visiting, and asks the student to stand next to the welcome sign. The Director takes a digital photo of the student standing by his name as a memory of the visit. Both the parent and student are then walked out of the building and thanked again for visiting.

Once they have left, the Admissions Director emails the parent with a photo of the student standing by the sign and includes a personalised note referencing the family and their fit at the school. This email is sent immediately after they leave the campus so that they receive the message while they are on the drive home. The school Head also sends a personal handwritten note, thanking them for visiting the school – which will arrive several days later.

The parent and student end up raving about the school and the way they were treated. In comparison to the other schools in their community, this visit stands out and makes a difference to their decision.

Are you close to the ideal school visit or do you need to make some improvements?

Dr Rick Newberry is the President of Enrollment Catalyst. Based in the USA, his goal is to provide school leaders with effective marketing and enrolment strategies, as well as staff accountability, direction, and results needed to grow their enrolment. enrollmentcatalyst.com

SMJ Rick Newberry

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