[This is a guest post from Joanna Warren Smith at Camp Consulting. Even if your organization isn’t a camp, this practical and VERY TIMELY insight applies equally to all types of kid-focused organizations. If you sign up for Joanna’s camp management “Hints” emails, you’ll get great monthly insights like this one right to your inbox.]
CONNECT WITH PARENTS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
In Focus Groups, parents report that after camp, they want closure. They 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.
These tips will meet that need, while also giving you the opportunity to help parents understand why they should ‘re-invest’ in their child.
TAKE ACTION NOW
If you haven’t already done this, now is the time to close the loop!
- 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!