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  • Joe Naftal

How I got 20 students to register in an hour with one simple message!



It's two and a half weeks until fall classes begin and that means the enrollment race is on! If you're like me, you wake up every morning checking your online registrations and seeing how your student count measures up to your goals. As we pound the pavement searching for new students, we also hope that all of our old students will return again too. Even with a ton of emails, social media posts, flyers, postcards, doing cartwheels on their front lawn – it is so hard to get some parents to answer the question "HEY! Are you coming back this year or WHAT!?"


This morning I decided to take a different approach and keep it as simple as possible. I sent out the following text message to everyone that hasn't re-registered yet from last season:


Hi there, it’s Dance Connection! We hope you’re enjoying the last weeks of summer. We’re just checking in to see if you’ll be returning for fall classes this year. If so, let us know and we can send you your class options. If not, we’re sad to hear it, but we will update our records.

(Side note: 2-Way texting is a game changer for a dance studio. Nowadays parents aren't even checking their emails, as well all know. Having a studio cell-phone with texting or utilizing an enterprise phone system with direct texting really helps response rates.)


I finished sending the text messages and then sat for a minute with no replies. "Okay," I thought to myself. "It was worth a try - all I wasted was 10 minutes."


All of the sudden, my computer started dinging and buzzing with replies. Parents wrote back "yep, we're coming back", "yes please send me class times", "I want a Tuesday class, what do you have?". For the next 45minutes, I bounced between writing back to text messages on one screen, looking up class times on another screen, and registering dancers on another, while writing back to emails and live chats on my phone. By the end of the hour, I had 20 returning students (who I couldn't even get a response from since early June) registered for next year.


I got a few "sorry, we're not dancing next year" messages and a few "we've moved messages" and that's okay too. It means I get to cross them off my list and focus my energy on bringing in new students.


So why did this four sentence message work so well in getting them to register? It was simple and easy. All they had to do was write back "yes". I took care of everything else, finding their class times, registering them into the classes, processing the payment. They didn't have to open an email, log into their account, look up a schedule, or fill out any paperwork. See, these parents wanted to register for fall classes. It was on obviously on their mental to-do list, they just didn't have the time. But replying "yes" to a text message – now that's something they could do waiting at the school drop-off line, sitting at the Starbucks drive through, or at the grocery store.


Sometimes we have to meet busy parents where they are and making things as easy as possible can mean more registered students. What process at your studio can you simplify for a busy parent? It could really pay off!




Growing up in the studio family business, Joe Naftal is the Marketing Director for Dance Connection in Islip, NY. Through Naftal Creative, Joe is the creator of RecitalProgramAds.com, the Check In Pointe web app and the author of Standby in the Wings, a behind-the-scenes recital guide published throughout North America, the UK, and Australia. He also serves as the CEO of Penny Prima®. Joe has taught studio owners from across the world in a variety of topics including recital production, marketing, office management, and technology. He has presented at the Energize Conference, the Dance Teacher Summit, CNADM, the UDMA Dance Teacher Expos, and been a guest contributor for DanceStudioOwner.com and Dance Teacher Magazine. Aside from his work at the studio, Joe is a lighting designer for classical and contemporary theatre, modern dance, ballet, and opera. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in lighting design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.