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Why is it important to help new students feel welcome? Because doing so will help them feel a part of your studio "family."
Everyone likes to belong, and if your students can see themselves as being a part of your studio, rather than just someone who attends classes there, they are more likely to remain loyal to your business, take additional classes, and bring their friends too!
To help new students feel welcome means helping them feel comfortable in your classes and at home in your studio. Doing so just makes good business sense, as we'll soon see.
Here are three specific techniques you can start using right now to help every new student who walks through your doors feel welcome.
Helping newcomers make new friends and feel comfortable in class is vital if they are to feel a sense of belonging.
There are lots of ways you can assist this process, but here are two ice breakers that work very well. Use them at the start of a new class session, when the students may not know each other.
Icebreaker #1: Ask everyone to introduce themselves by their first name, and then share one word that describes how they're feeling about taking the class (ie nervous, excited, shy, etc.). Teacher goes first! After each person takes a turn, be sure to acknowledge everyone by name, which will also help you remember names more quickly.
This fun little game doesn't take long, helps everyone get to know a few new names, and also helps you gauge the overall mood of the group so that you can adjust your teaching style if necessary.
Icebreaker #2: Have a bar of good dark chocolate ready at the start of a new session. Pass the bar around as you ask everyone to introduce themselves to the group.
This can just be their name, or you can also give them a question that can be answered briefly, such as the one word description idea above.
Another question you can pose while you pass around the chocolate is to ask each person to say what she likes best about her own body (hair, shoulders, eyes, legs, butt, etc.).
After their introduction, each student can break off a piece of chocolate to enjoy. This exercise of "breaking chocolate together" is a very popular way to start a class! Those who don't want to eat the chocolate can just take a nice deep breath of the delicious aroma. . . mmmmm!
This one never fails to help new students feel welcome in a class!
Welcome packages are a simple yet effective way to help new students feel welcome. It's an easy way for your newest students to become acquainted with your studio routines and policies, and offers them a convenient way to get to know you, your classes and your instructors. Welcome packages are inexpensive to make up, but will be much appreciated by newcomers.
A simple folder with two inside pockets, like the type available in office supply stores, will work nicely.
Items you may want to include are your current schedule, information on memberships or discounts, flyers on upcoming workshops, bios of your staff, studio hours, contact information and policies, etc.
You may also want to include any promo pieces you have, such as a fridge magnet or a vinyl decal. And don't forget to put the student's copy of their studio contract (if you use one) into the folder.
When a new student registers for a class, or purchases a membership, give them a welcome package to help answer their questions and get them acquainted with your studio. They'll appreciate having all the information at their fingertips, and as a bonus, you'll spend less time answering routine questions from new students.
Once new students have arrived at your studio and taken their first class, following up with them right away will help them feel important. When you show a customer that you appreciate their business and care about their experience, you help them understand that the transaction is about more than just money to you.
Follow up can take many forms, such as a phone call, an email, or a postcard. It doesn't have to take a lot of time, nor does it have to be expensive.
However, in this day of impersonal form emails, sending a postcard in the mail can be a real attention-getter, and will really help new students feel welcome. Postcards are inexpensive to print and mail, and you can add a short, handwritten note personally welcoming each new student to your studio.
Imagine your new student's surprise and delight upon receiving a hand addressed card or note in the mail.
You may just make their day, and they may make yours by becoming a regular at your studio!