67 Creative and Effective Ways To Get Students to Register For Dance Class
The few weeks leading up to the start of a new school year can be highly emotional. The worry and fear of 'will the students come back' is always palpable...and like you, we want people to register now!
This article is a compilation from nearly 100 dance studio owners and teachers who answered the question, "What is the most effective thing that you have done at your studio to encourage people to take action and register for classes?"
In an effort to maintain the voice of the generous contributors, the answers have been posted with little editing: we only removed duplicate replies, fixed up some punctuation and removed any personal identifying information. We're keeping it real!
We want this to be your best year yet! If you get a new idea or try something that makes a difference, we'd love to hear from you. The more that people are dancing, the better it is for all of dance.
Here's the list, enjoy!
Gifts, Dancewear and Give Away Items
1. Each year we give away something when they come in on registration day. A free pair of tights, free studio t-shirt, free dance bag, etc. Also, students can receive a rhinestone tiara when they refer a friend.
2. The first registration day is 'Free T shirt day'. On that day, and that day only, I offer our studio t shirts for free. Each year is a new design, so that even returning students want the shirt. For the next
registration week I offer them at half price after that they are regular price. The majority of my returning students will register on Free T shirt day just for the shirt.
3. We have a drawing for one month free tuition, at our studios dress rehearsal in May. Only students pre-enrolled for next year are eligible.
4. Free give-aways at registration to the first x number of people- dance bags have been a big hit!
5. We enter them into a drawing for some great prizes which include: Paid winter showcase performance fee, Free summer classes for the next year, $50 worth of free dancewear through us.
6. During my open houses, which are four days in a row, Monday-Thursday for 2 hours each night I offer a free pair of ballet shoes to anyone who registers and pays their $20 registration fee by June1st. The cost for the shoes to me is about $8-10 so I still get $10 for registration fees and the parents feel like they're getting a great deal.
7. I offer a "uniform special" where if they register at the open house, they can order all of their class dancewear at just slightly above wholesale.
8. We hold a dance wear and dance shoe sale at the end of August during our registration days. The first week's discount is 20% off, the second is 15% off and the third is 10%.
Open House Events
10. Run a series of open houses on Thursday Nights from the end of July into August. Decorate all week
with balloons and signs. Free trial classes run on those nights.
11. We offer a free hip hop class during our open house along with refreshments
and face painting.
12. We have a basic open house. People still want to just talk to someone and look at the studio space. No matter how detailed your website is or info over the phone. They just want to see you face to face.
13. We have several open houses, plus have office hours all through the summer at various times. We post the office hours on our website each Monday for that week; our voicemail auto answer refers people to the website; they can register in person this way, or they can print a registration form from the website and mail it in. This way we are available to everyone at a time that is good for them, not just good for us.
14. I have an open house and register people on the spot. We encourage them to come by through offering sample dance classes, refreshments, and we waive the registration fee that day.
15. We hold an open house with all our teachers giving demonstrations of working with students at various times during the day so people can come in to the studio and view not only the interior of our building but our teachers actually teaching someone. While the open house is going on we offer refreshments and small give-aways. We always offer a paid registrant a free gift such as a tote bag or tee. Also this year, we did a promotional dvd to send out when people request information. I think this makes us look more professional and permits individuals to see the teachers at work.
16. Student appreciation party and new registration open house for 2-3 hours including a cake. We give a promo piece door prize for all who attend, and give a free gift (t-shirt) AND discount on early registration,
Plus a free additional gift for bringing friends with you. We put display tables about our classes, and our 4 different locations, and information about our Performing Company.
17. Our competitive team does a dance tour of the local schools with a few of our numbers during "Education Week". We showcase our talents and leave a postcard with studio info for each child to take home.
18. I donate big to every local PTA, and charity fundraiser (always a
gift certificate to a free week or two of camp, plus a tutu and shoes) PTA moms
(and charity board members) remember which businesses are generous, and
are very loyal! Even if their own children do not dance, they will recommend
businesses that support their causes to others.
19. The most effective tactic for us has been attending local events and
festivals in August and September right before we open for the Fall season. We
register new students right on the spot with online registration and then remind
existing students that classes are filling up. We track "how heard
of us" when each student registers and local fairs, festivals, community events
and parades have proven to be more effective than print advertising. We usually
finish our fair and festival "tour" with a Free Day of Dance. We have the "Free
Day" schedule with us at all events and give to potential dancer families to help bring them in to see our studio, try a couple classes and meet our teachers and staff. This "Free Day" event is the culmination of it all and is a very busy
registration time for us for new and returning students.
20. We contact the local preschools and ask them to send home our fall schedule with classes just for that age group and include a free trial class coupon.
21. Set up a booth at my child's elementary school on "Meet-the-teacher" Day and
hand out flyers to all that stop by with studio info and free bracelets with the
Registration Incentive: Waive Fees
22. Hold pre-registration week the week following recital and offer the incentive of waived registration fee. I would say 50% of our students sign up then and it also gives me extra income to help get through the summer months.
23. We offer a day where we waive the registration fee. We offer a referral
credit to present students who referred friends. We also offer to new students
only, "pay for 3 months in advance and receive your 4th month free".
24. On May 30th I open registration up to new students.
We star our fall registration in May. I offer last year's rate with only a $20.00 registration fee. After the last day of classes (the end of June) tuition goes up to the new rate and the registration fee is $40.00.
25. In order to encourage early registration I've found it very effective to have specials before the season ends. About one month before the recital I post to parents that the first 50 to register gets half-off registration fees.
Registration Incentive: Before the end of the season
26. Offering a discount to returning families who register at the end of the season rather than at the beginning of the new season.
27. We like to encourage current students to re register at the end of June right before the recital. If they do so they lock in that year's tuition price and save themselves another registration fee. It also secures their spot in the classes of their choice.
28. Register before May 30th and we waive the registration fee plus you get first choice of classes before we open up to public.
Registration Incentive: Priority status
29. We have priority registration for current students. I did this for the first time this year, my date was register by June 30th for priority and as of July 1st the registration was open to the "public". We received a lot of registrations this way. Offer an early bird discount. Mine is register by July 15 and the registration fee is waived. Plus send out email blasts every 3-4 weeks during the summer informing students of what classes are full and which ones are almost full ; I always get a lot of registrations after these go out.
30. Offer "Priority Enrollment" early for only current students and use the phrase, "be sure to get placement in the class you want, spots are filling fast". Then have Early Enrollment open to new and existing students with the same tag line as above, and finally, Open Enrollment is open to all, "classes and placements not guaranteed" Also, discounts for paying for the full session up front ends the first day of classes, and that always gets people in.
31. We offer a discount for families who take advantage of "priority registration" before June 15th. We used to call it "early bird registration" and offer the same discount. It was much less effective then. I've found that using the word "priority" makes people feel important and part of an elite group of people who get first pick of classes.
32. Offered priority registration for current students, that helped a lot this year for those moms who just think that their kid will have a spot since they've been with me for years and sometimes wait until the first day of class to register, many of them registered during the recital this year.
33. We allow our returning customers to register one month before our new customers. We let them know how much we appreciate their business and to thank them, they get first choice on classes. Our classes fill pretty quickly, so they appreciate the extra couple of weeks. Sending a reminder post card also helps.
34. I mail out my latest schedule of classes and new programs to existing students prior to Open House to give them a "priority" status, it gives value to the customer you already have and started the buzz with potential NEW customers.
Recital ticket incentive
35. If you register first you get to pick your tickets first, if you register second, you get to pick your tickets second and so on.
36. I advertise it on the home page of our website and make online registration really easy. Since our registration in June (120 people came into register) we have gotten another 80 online which is awesome. It gives us a head start on fall registration and allows people to register with us first.
37. Taking online registration. Love it!
38. We just added a website and online registration at our studio. So to drive parents to use our new set-up as well as get registered, we had a limited-time offer of 50% off of our registration fee for online registration only. We had great results. We also had a contest which involved having the parents post on our Facebook wall about why they like having their child in dance. At the end of the contest, we had a drawing and the winner won free tuition for their first month. Giving the parents a limited timeline on special deals seems to create a sense of urgency that motivates them to take action.
39. Registration online and also email reminders along with open houses and constant contact reminders. Facebook reminders help too.
40. Online registration and always being available for calls, such as forwarding the studio phone to my cell
41. I offer a 10% discount if they pay in full. I also wave their registration fee if they refer a friend that has never danced at my studio before.
42. Students can enter the early bird drawing when they register and pay by a certain date to receive 10% off their term fees. All of the Early Birds then go into a drawing to win $100 cash back.
43. Sending out an email with a coupon code for 10% off all classes registered for by the expiration date. The expiration date is usually about a week from the date the email was sent out. I tend to get people I knew were planning on registering actually take the step, plus a few I didn't know were interested.
44. I give a tuition discount if they register before September 1.
45. Send schools flyers to go home with kids
46. Send copies of home-made posters to kindergartens in the area announcing new
classes beginning this semester.
47. We put fliers on supermarket community boards. On nice days we flier
mailboxes and cars at the mall. This has gotten us 2 or 3 new students every
48. I recently did a mailing of 5,000 post cards out to the community advertising our new location. It really created a lot of buzz and the price was right. All I needed was 8 people to register from the mailing to cover the cost. In the end I got 80!
49. We send postcards to every former student, current student, and anyone that
has called the studio for information announcing our "Registration Open House".
on it, we list the dates for our registration, and also say that there will be free gifts - but with limited qualities. That way - we encourage people to come in quickly!
50. Direct Mail: We take the local school directories and mail each student a
postcard that invites them to our open house and registration dates.
51. Postcards! I mail reminders to those who haven't yet registered and also thank you note postcards letting those who have registered know that we look forward to seeing them. Included are the open house dates and also when dancewear is available for purchase.
52. We have used a summer information packet and registration form as our most
effective way of registration. We encourage the community to sign up with a
large run of news paper advertisements.
53. I send out flyers with my registration date and schedule of classes to all students from the last two year and I put a big advertisement in the paper with my biography included in it.
Email and Phone Calls
54. We send emails, make phone calls, and offer free dance wear for signing up early.
55. We keep reminding them! Whether it's via postal mail or email
(my preferred form of communication), when we give them ample reminders of
registration guidelines and deadlines it does seem to help.
56. Continued to follow up with old leads, prior students and current students
through utilizing social media and constant contact.
57. We do follow up calls with anyone who is not yet registered.
58. I like to call all my students. I know it takes time. But just to see how their summer went and let them know I care. It just takes a few minutes. My teachers and I split the list up and call all the previous students.
Free Trial Classes
59. Offering free trial lessons for dancers 3-6 years old in both tap and ballet. I had open sign up for the trials during a local street fair and nearly everyone who came for a trial registered for class. Before the semester starts we hold "come and try" classes for potential new children. Most then register after the class and purchase dancewear from us as well.
60. Take one free trial class anytime.
Bring/Refer a Friend
61. Bring a friend to class week at the end of the season has worked well for us. We show off our recital dances, talk about classes for next year and have some class time to dance with our friends.
62. Offering the registration at the price of 2 for 1 when they come with a friend!
63. Bring a friend and receive 1/2 price off a summer camp or bring two friends
and receive an additional class free all year provided that the new ones continue with the class. Whoever brings the most new students to the studio to register for dance class during the year will receive a $100.00 shopping card to the mall.
64. To encourage my baby class students to return, I made a short dvd of our baby classes. It included their first class, Halloween and Christmas dances. I used my flip video camera and edited it myself. They
will be receive it as a gift at registration. To make it easier on myself all the baby classes are on the same dvd. It turned out so cute.
65. Probably the most effective and fun thing we do is to make our registration more of a party/open house and have a "balloon pop" to determine how much of a
percentage off your first month's tuition will be if they pay for that month at
registration. The kids love to pop the balloons and the parents love to get the
discount! We include a few "1st month free" and "50% off 1st month" in addition
to the other discounts offered.
66. We printed out a copy of our class schedule for every single student (400+), and hi-lighted which classes they should enroll in this semester, and which classes we suggested they might add to their schedule, then we mailed it out. It took a couple weeks to complete this task, very time-consuming, but when
registration began, we brought in a lot of money in one week. Students were so
excited to see what their teachers recommended and they felt like they had
received personal insight as to what their teacher(s) thought of them!
67. I offer a referral program called "compliments for costumes"
Basically each student gets coupons that they can give out to friends. If their
friend registers with the coupon their friend gets a free costume and so do they! It sounds crazy, but if you think of 9 mos. of tuition versus two costumes it pays off! I grew by more than 30% last year when I introduced this program.
Thank YOU for all you do for dance!