A 'HINT' to Feature 'Return on Investment' - Joanna Warren Smith

CONNECT WITH PARENTS ASAP!

In Focus Groups, parents tell me that they expect an immediate post-camp communication from the Director that speaks as personally and as specifically as possible to their child’s experience.  Parents are angered when the first thing they receive after camp is a sales pitch for the next year. 

Parents report that they want closure and you want the opportunity to help them understand why they should 're-invest' in their child.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

  • Determine your direction.  If you can easily write personal letters to each parent, that's perfect.  If you are able to target sessions, ages or genders for similar reporting, that's good.  But many camps are absolutely limited to one blanket communication to all families at the same time.  If that's the case, based on parent input, it is still better than nothing at all and the effort should happen.
  • KISS.  You’re busy and it's the end of the summer.  This outreach will not happen unless you ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’.  Commit to a date by which your email/letter will be sent to parents and then put the systems in place.  The easiest way to go is an email with YOUR CAMPER’S SUMMER EXPERIENCE in the subject line.
  • Create a short, powerful summary of the summer.  IN ONE PARAGRAPH, focus on what kids accomplished rather than what they did and how campers were positively influenced by their counselors.  Make certain that everything you report is accurate in terms of product delivery and reflective of your philosophy.
  • Invite parents to be in touch with you.  Most parents will not connect with you, but all will appreciate the offer.  Those who do outreach will be genuinely interested in enrolling for next summer.  Be certain to have as much information as possible about individual campers before returning calls or emails to parents.
  • Encourage parents to 're-invest' in their children next summer.  DO NOT use this communication as the time to announce your early-bird incentive.  This outreach is not a sales tool.  It is a timely opportunity to build relationships and help parents realize that another camp experience with you is what's best for their child and that they should prioritize and budget for camp for next summer.

When you connect with parents immediately after camp, you will have officially kicked-off your retention effort for 2016.  Go for it!

Joanna

Want help with that powerful paragraph?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already, you should sign up to receive these HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/)

A 'HINT' to Encourage On-Going Enrollments - Joanna Warren Smith

There are still more campers out there!

If you're in the enviable position of being at capacity and managing wait lists for all sessions, BRAVO!  If not, recruitment must continue until the opening day of your last program without conveying a sense of urgency or desperation. 

TAKE ACTION NOW!

  • Train those who answer the phones.  Even though it is a hectic time of the year in the office, inquiring parents must sense  eagerness for calls and not be made to feel like an imposition.  Parents must be dealt with patiently and all inquiries, whatever the platform, must be responded to immediately.  Avoid language that gives a negative impression … for instance a parent asks ‘do you have any spots left?’ and your representative answers ‘oh, we’ve got plenty of room.’  Rather, your rep should get the name, gender and age of the child and then respond accordingly.  Be certain that the parent inquiring on June 29 or July 21 receives the same TLC and respect as the parent who inquired last October.
  • Consider a final promotional outreach.  2014 parents not enrolled could respond to a reminder about the benefits of camp.  Keep the message short and powerful.  Use just one 'knock your socks off' visual and be certain that the outreach DOES NOT GO to any enrolled families.
  • Invite 2015 not-enrolled inquiries to tour.  If you've not done this before, it may need to be put on hold for next year ... but, inviting families to visit to see camp in action can be a powerful recruitment tool.  Use a postcard invitation, ‘provocative message’ and a ‘resonating’ visual.  Make appointments for times when camp shows best.  Follow up and ‘court’ the consumer to the sale.
  • Encourage extensions and returns for 2015.  Please DO NOT ASSUME that parents realize that their child could stay on or come back to camp.  I have had dozens of parents tell me in focus groups that they would have had their campers stay on if the camp will take care of the  laundry or come back if they do not have to pay a premium charge.
  • Start 2016 promotion on Day 1 of your last session. Determine dates and rates now so that you can update your website in August.  Parents who hear good things about your program will be impressed that you have the current information available.

Camp promotion is not seasonal; it is a year-round effort that will move you toward capacity.

Have a terrific, safe summer!!!!!

Joanna

Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/)

A 'Sneak Peak' HINT to Increase Your Re-Enrollments - Joanna Warren Smith

Remember, You Have 2 Summer Camp Clients!

It's critical to keep reminding parents of the value of your camp experience for their children so that they are willing to 're-invest' next year.  It is also imperative that you give campers a 'Sneak Peak' of what's next for them, so that they are eager to come back and ultimately to 'whine' to their parents if they hear talk about not returning to camp.

In a 'perfect world' where none of us live, you would have year-to-year progressive programs, kids would understand the sequence and be naturally motivated to return to achieve their goals.  If that is not your situation and you only have subtle differences between age groups for activities, responsibilities, rituals and camp roles ... then test a new approach to increase retention.

TAKE ACTION NOW.

  • Identify your 'softest' re-enrollment group by age.  Compare their current program with the next year's version.  Highlight the differences and confirm that the elements are intriguing enough to cause excitement.  For this exercise, let's focus on 8 year olds.
  • Set the stage.  Determine the best time for 8 year old campers to  glimpse the age 9 program, play with them or participate in the fun.  Have a deliberate, age-appropriate conversation with the 8 year olds that captures their enthusiasm and intention to come back.
  • Bring parents into the conversation.  As soon as campers depart, have the initial 'transition' communication with mom and dad that talks about 're-investing' in their child and their child's reason to return to camp.
  • Keep campers focused.  Communicate regularly (ideally monthly) with campers to keep them connected to camp and aware of their reason to return next summer.

Diligently track enrollments for 2015 in this age group to determine if the effort works.  My prediction is that your retention will increase and you'll expand this 'Sneak Peak' effort in 2016.

Joanna

Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive these HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/) 

An OMG 'HINT' from Joanna Warren Smith

Now is the Perfect Time To Connect With Parents and Make Sales

Campers learning to play guitar

Campers learning to play guitar

How can it possibly be?

Just last week, two well-known camps told me that they do not collect information regarding inquiries while another established operation indicated that they do no ‘real’ promotion from the end of March on.  Needless to say, the first programs are now actively collecting inquiries and the third camp is about to commence a series of intentional outreaches to increase enrolments and retention.

I know that this is an extraordinarily busy time of the year, with staff hiring, program refinements and orientation planning, but you can’t ASSUME that enrolments will take care of themselves.

For parents who have not yet made decisions about camp, school vacation looms and the prospect of their child doing ‘nothing’ is frightening.  It’s the perfect time for you to connect with parents and increase sales.

Take Action Now

  • Outreach To ALL 2015 Inquiries Not Yet Enrolled.  Using a ‘Provocative Message and Resonating Visuals’, invite parents to connect with you to find out how your camp experience can benefit their children.
  • Partner with Parents.  Using an article like Dr. Tina’s Bryson’s ‘Bunks Build Brains’, connect with 2014 (and perhaps 2013-2012) parents not yet re-enrolled to give added value to what the camp experience can do for their kids.  If you are a day camp, you may have to establish a slightly different context.  You can also use this type of outreach to affirm for 2015 families that they are making a good investment in their child.
  • Rekindle Memories for Campers.  Send a postcard (preferred) or a link through a parent email that references a camp memory that will encourage campers to ‘whine’ to get their parents to send them back to camp.  You can also send them to a link on your website to see a video of some special moments at camp.
  • Focus on the OMG Kids.  Run your bunk lists from last year, highlight those returning and identify those who really surprise you that they are not coming back.  Commence a phone campaign followed by personal emails to connect with those families to register the child or determine why they are not returning.
  • Continue Building Relationships.  Assign each member of the calling team 6-10 calls/day during April and May to connect with all of last year’s campers not yet enrolled and new acquisition potential (inquiries, camp fair/open house participants).  If personal emails are not manageable, send a ‘provocative and resonating’ follow up email at the end of each week to the families who received calls that week.
  • Launch a Proactive 'Stay On' or 'Come Back' Effort.  Many parents will jump at the chance for their child to increase their time at camp this summer.  Keep them informed of their child's progress, suggest the possibility (if the camper is eager to do so) and then make the extension process easy.

I could go on, but it’s already a tall order.  If you can’t do everything that’s been suggested here, select one item and do it really, really well.  Enrolment is too critical for you to ASSUME that it will take care of itself.

Want help determining a ‘provocative message’ and identifying ‘resonating visuals’, give me a call.

Joanna

Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/) 

A "Hint" about Proofing Your Product from Joanna Warren Smith

Please don't embarrass yourself at your camp

Check out the attached pic I just took at Staples.

What can I say?

TAKE ACTION NOW!

  • Use Spell Check Always.  It's essential.
  • Confirm grammar, punctuation and word usage.  In this case, Staples intended Assistance for Assistants.
  • Read Copy Out Loud.  Hearing what you have written will highlight problems.
  • Have All Work Proofed by at Least One Uninvolved Person.  Proofing cannot be done by someone who has been working on the project.  It is too easy to miss the obvious ... obviously!

Mistakes on websites, in brochures, flyers, emails or written communications say to the reader that you are careless and not attentive to details.

Joanna

Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/) 

A "Fix It" Hint from Joanna Warren Smith

THIS IS CLASSIC 'DO IT YOURSELF'!
Every single camp in the country has at least one programmatic, logistical or operational issue that plagues them every single year and causes families not to return.  Leadership and staff acknowledge the problem and are well-intentioned, but somehow a fix never happens. 

The routines perpetuate and negatively impact systems, enrolments and client relations.  STOP THE CYCLE THIS MONTH!

TAKE ACTION NOW!

  • BE OBJECTIVE.  It's hard to do, because you love the people, the place and the philosophy, but it's essential.
  • IDENTIFY THE ISSUE.  Focus on two or three problems and select one or two that you can guarantee will be 'fixed' before the summer.
  • REWRITE THE SCRIPT.  If your issue is Opening Day of each session at camp, study the current game plan for the whole day.  Note where the problems occur and identify timing, logistical or personnel alternatives to efficiently enhance hospitality, eliminate long lines and engage campers immediately.
  • MARKET THE IMPROVEMENT.  Communicate with your families from last year that a new standard has been set and they will realize it on Opening Day.  By doing this, you force yourself to make the change happen and you can positively influence retention.  By telling families who are not yet re-enrolled that you have improved your system, you can get disgruntled parents to commit to another year for their child.
  • DELIVER WHAT YOU PROMISE.  Returning parents will be impressed.  New  parents will know that you run a quality operation and they will leave camp confident that they made a good choice for their child.

Does a commitment to improvement like this make any difference at all?  At Camp Tockwogh, ED Elizabeth Staib King intentionally improved her Opening Day procedures in 2014.  She attributes her current enrolment that is 34% ahead of last year at this time to those changes.

Joanna

Need an objective perspective on any aspect of camp?  Give me a call at 310-451-1876 or email campconsulting@verizon.net

(Note from Travis:   We are so thrilled to be posting the always brilliant HINTS from camp consultant Joanna Warren Smith!  If you don't already you should sign up to receive theses HINTS in your email - in the right-hand column of Joanna's website: http://camp-consulting.com/)