Three seconds is all it takes to form a first impression. There is no second chance, no do-over, no grace period. This is why it is critical for your school business to make the right impression on customers and potential buyers.
As a school owner, there are many different moving parts and people to manage, which makes it easy to overlook the little details that form a lasting first impression for current and potential customers, as well as future buyers of your school business and real estate.
Although, having an approachable and talented staff at your school is key, making simple improvements to your facility can go a long way. Below we explore a few common opportunities for school owners to make a positive, lasting first impression.
Elevate Your Lobby
Your lobby is one of the first areas people see when they visit your facility, so it goes without saying that this area should be inviting and clean. Many school lobbies turn into storage for lost and found items, car seat parking, broken equipment, and more — especially as the school ages and more items are compiled into the space. It is important to elevate your lobby into a resource center for families, rather than a gathering place or lost and found.
Keep Your Facility Fresh
No parent or potential school business buyer wants to be involved with a school that has smelly halls, broken appliances, stained carpet, leaking faucets, chipped paint, etc. While keeping up with routine maintenance seems like a straightforward task, it is easy to fall behind the busier your school becomes. Prioritize regular updates to your facility: clean the floors, ensure sparkling windows, touch up details like caulk and paint, and keep bathrooms and gym areas especially clean and odor-free.
Make the exterior curb appeal as nice as the inside with swept walkways, seasonal plants and flowers, and touches of school spirit. Monitor parking areas by removing debris, re-stripping, and making certain visitors always find a spot.
Clear Out Clutter
Avoid using hallways, corners, and classroom counters to store clutter. It is important to display children’s projects and photos of school activities as a gallery of work and not as wallpaper or window dressing. Try using storage closets, cabinets, or offsite storage for the safekeeping of excess, seasonal, and rotating classroom supplies and equipment. Well-placed bulletin boards can display children’s artwork. These touches will keep your school looking clean, organized, and clutter-free throughout the year.
Present Yourself as a Professional
When someone calls the school, are they greeted by a live person, an automated message, or voicemail? Anyone who answers the phone or greets a prospective customer or school buyer in the office becomes your Director of First Impressions, so it is important to be polite, courteous, and informative.
When it comes to your school staff, make sure they are present and fully engaged with the children, both in the classroom and on the playground. Teachers should have visible curriculums posted in the classroom, dress professionally, and be attentive to the needs of children and parents.
Update Your Online Presence
Have you ever Googled your school to see what information is available? What do the online parent reviews have to say?
Today’s tech-savvy customers often search the internet for answers to their most pressing questions. Most parents and interested parties will visit your website and seek online reviews before ever driving by the facility. Maintaining an updated website that clearly presents your school business in a succinct, professional, aesthetically-pleasing manner is critical. Addressing any negative reviews promptly and politely will draw visitors, rather than repel them.
As for web content, include information about your educational philosophy, enrollment, pictures of activities, and a virtual tour of the facility to help your school stand out. Designate and educate your staff on how to respond to online requests to ensure you do not miss out on any new business opportunities.
Preparing to Sell Your School Business
Whether or not you are ready to sell your school business, it is essential to keep in mind these tips to attract and retain the interest of parents and future customers. These simple, everyday tasks can increase the value of your business over time and create a lasting impression that sets your school apart from the competition.[/column]