Let’s talk about first impression.
A girlfriend of mine has three-year-old twins, and she booked online for a tiny tots class. She filled in all her information and was told, “Come to the studio at this time for your class.” She’s so excited and looking forward to it.
She takes her two little kids off to the studio, and she arrives through the door and, immediately, she notices, “Okay, there’s no one here to greet me.” She saw that the teacher was teaching a class and pretty busy. When she finally was able to connect with the teacher the following happened:
Teacher: “I didn’t know you were coming.”
My friend: “Oh, but I filled in the application online, and I was told to come at this time.”
Teacher: “I can’t find you in the system. You would just need to fill in this application form here.”
Then, my friend literally fills in everything again. Straight away, that feeling of coming to this studio space with the children has already been tarnished. Then, no one showed her around. No one made the effort to engage with her.
At the end of the class, there was no process, there was no invitation, there was no checking in to see, “How did you go? What did you think?” She just walked out.
I do really wonder, as a studio owner, how well are we guiding these onboarding processes to welcome our new students? We only have a fraction of a second to be able to make that incredible “wow” factor welcome to make them feel valued, to make them feel part of the family in your studio from that very first moment.
It’s a really good question to ask yourself and also to ask your teachers to think, “What would it take to completely exceed the expectations of our new students? What questions would we need to ask them? What do we need to show them when they come through the door? How can we make them feel connected and valued so that they’re going to stay with us for a very long time?”
I want to share with you my three tips for creating a magical first impression in your studio.
The first tip is to get a really good system for notifying your teachers that they’ve got a new student coming in to class because nothing says unprofessional like, “Oh, I didn’t know that you were going to be joining us.”
We want to preempt their arrival. We want to greet them by name as they come through the door, not only the student’s name but the parent’s name as well. That’s really important. It creates that whole feeling of, “Wow, very slick service here.”
One of the ways that we do this is by using Trello. Trello is this fantastic communications hub for your whole team. It can allow you to keep in contact and send messages to your teachers. All you have to do is, in the plan for the week, notify your teacher via Trello: “Hey, Jenny. You have got Sarah, who is eight, and her mother, Mary, coming to class this week. Please be sure to make them feel incredibly welcome and give them a great initial impression.”
The second tip is to spend a bit of time with your teachers visualising what would the most magnificent first class look like for a new student. Draw this out of your teachers: “What kind of questions could we ask them? How do we want the room set up? What type of music would we be playing?”
Let’s actually create a process for that first impression that you can then put into a really clear checklist. For example, “Step one, have music playing. Step two, have the table set up with the information. Step three, have the door open.”
Really make it clear for your teacher so that you have a systemized and standardized process for that first class. The most important thing that we can be striving toward is consistency. If your teachers have that chance to say, “Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you do this?” or “I find that this works so well”, your teacher would be more invested and more likely to implement it every week, and give that consistent magical first impression.
The third tip is to add a little bit of sparkle. If you think about it, what would really exceed the expectation?
Some studios they give the student a little welcome gift. It could be as simple as a little hair tie. Nothing huge, but just the feeling of “Welcome. Here’s a little gift to welcome you.”
You might like to be talking with your teachers about specifically how you can give that new student some extra feedback, some extra place both during the class and also at the end. It’s really important to try and facilitate that process.
At the end of class, often it is chaos. There are kids, there are parents, there’s a lot going on, but it’s really important if we can even just have a little whisper to the student or the parent in the middle of the class and say, “I’d just love to spend a few minutes with you after class, and just share with you how you were doing, and see if you have any questions.”
Taking that time to instill in them that you care and you’re well-invested in them having a wonderful experience speaks volumes about who you are as a studio and the results you want your students to get.
My other favourite thing about developing this magical first impression is that more often than not, if you can completely knock the socks off in that first instance, you’ll find that they’ll start talking about you. The moms would be like, “You have to come to this studio”, and you get amazing word-of-mouth referrals all because of this experience you’ve created, and the care and love you’ve put into that welcome process for your students.
If you’re looking for more ways to grow your studio, I’ve put together my absolute favourite 100 Ways to Grow Your Studio — my most proven, most effective ways to rapidly get more students through the door — and put it all into one free PDF.
When was the last time that you were wowed in that first impression with a company? It could have been at a restaurant or maybe the hairdresser. Share in the comments below an experience where you were totally blown away by the quality of service that you received from a company. We’d love to read them.
By Chantelle Bruinsma Duffield of Studio Strategist at StudioExpansion.com.