How to Increase School Revenues

Jun 4, 2010 | Uncategorized

Today, in the Higher Education field, in the area of marketing in particular, opportunities abound to leverage your time and money to increase school revenue. These points of leverage create results greater than what seems to be possible. Organically a School can typically grow 20-30% per year without a huge stress on infrastructure. Yet in growing organically, one can often get steamrolled by competitors who grab market share at a greater pace or simply lose the potential of a program opportunity. Nature abhors a vacuum. Slow organic growth particularly when rolling out a new program or geography often doesn’t do the trick in the cut and thrust world of marketing.

Within a Schools Marketing/Admissions process there are several ways to leverage existing resources to accelerate your market share and build your brand. Below is a small case study demonstrating where a couple of small internal changes create larger financial gains – increasing the revenue for our case study School:

Case Study Details

  • Regional Allied Health School
  • Three admissions reps
  • 200 leads a month, with 2/3 coming from the internet
  • 60 Voice mail messages a month

1.0 Switch from Voice Mail to an Answering Service
We know through our research that prospective customers calling off of an ad will often “drop the call” and not leave a message. Ad Tracking companies claim through their research that up to 61% of people calling off of an ad will drop the call if met with voice mail.

Let’s look at how this translates for our case study school…

  • Assume our school receives only 3 voice mails a day, that represents 1056 voice mails a year.
  • If the research is accurate, 633 leads will be lost
  • If you have a 15% conversion rate and your average sale is $10,000 then you’ve lost……wait for it….$950,000 in annual revenue. Yikes!
  • Assuming there is a huge flaw in this logic somewhere let’s cut this figure in half, we are still at $475,000 in foregone revenue.

The fix, get an answering service for $150 a month – now, there’s a great ROI for your business.

2.0 Test the messages your sales team leave with prospects
We’ve heard the term Voice Mail Tag or Voice Mail Jail. In our new business reality, bouncing messages back and forth with prospects, can make for a miserable experience. This exercise is akin to swatting flies in a garbage dump on a hot and humid summer day.

This is compounded in Admissions because messages are often being left for prospective students who don’t know you well or don’t really have a clear understanding of how you will benefit them. Most sales people give up in their communication efforts after a couple tries, leaving large sums of money on the table. Given a high percentage of leads are coming through the internet, outbound calling is becoming a prominent skill requirement for reps.

Lets have a look at how our case study school will fare…

  • Our case study school employs three reps and they have an average of only 20 outbound messages a day per rep. That’s an hour of outbound calling each.
  • Due to the awful dynamics of Voice Mail Tag, they get 1 in 5 messages returned, 20%.
  • If we could increase the return rate by only 10%? That would represent in this case study an extra 2 returns for every 20 attempts? Not that big a deal…or is it?
  • Three reps leaving 20 messages a day add up to about 14,400 messages a year.
  • Increase the result by only 10% and the sales team will connect with an additional 1,440 prospects.
  • If the conversion rate is only 10% and the average sale is $10,000, the Admissions team can accrue an additional $1,440,000 in annual revenue.

Not bad…

How do we accomplish this result in a systematic fashion? Trail and error. When leaving messages use one approach or script and monitor the results for 100 calls. Then for the next 100 try a different script and monitor the results. Continue through trial and error until you improve conversion by 10%. Try this approach with e-mail communication as well. This works really well.

3.0 Make like the Dentists office
We know that when a prospect promises to come to your school for an interview and a tour, 100% won’t actually attend. In fact, the ‘tour to show’ ratio for many schools can be down right dismal. What if we could increase the tour to show ratio by only 10%, how would that look?

  • Our case study School has 200 incoming leads per month, yet has only 60 prospects show for meetings (the goal is 90).
  • Assume we can get another 10 appointments to show
  • Assume the ‘show to stick’ ratio is 40%
  • The revenue lift would be $480,000 a year.

Not bad…

The fix is at the end of each day, have your receptionist systematically leave messages for all of your reps’ calendar appointments for the following day (like your dentist office does before your dental check up). You will see a lift in conversion.

Another idea, where appropriate offer to cover the cost of the prospects gas ($5) or bus fare as a goodwill gesture. To provide this gesture would cost our School $400 a month and if the lift is 10 appointments –  a nice ROI…

There is More to this than Making Money
The best in the Education field represent a well-tuned blend of systems combined with a dedication to relationship, helping students move forward in their lives. We need to remember the decision to go back to school can be an intimidating prospect for many. Making the process easy at the first point of contact is akin to a welcoming host at a party. Replacing voice mail with a real person, giving some thought to your phone communication and offering courtesy calls to remind people of meetings demonstrate empathy, respect and caring for your prospective students.

While often overlooked, these small points of respect allow the prospective student to feel like they are being treated as a real live human being vs. a number being processed. The Education field is an industry built on relationship and caring. All boats ‘go up’ in a rising tide.

There are many ways to increase revenues and improve margins through leveraging internet leads, admissions processes, even re-marketing to stale prospects. Pop your head out of the daily grind, when you get a moment, and look at what you do and how you do it, then find leverageable opportunities.

Gregg Meiklejohn is co-founder of the performance improvement company Enrollment Resources Inc. specialists in systemizing marketing chaos. To learn about the 15 additional ways a school can reorganize existing resources to increase Enrollment figures, please call: 250-391-9494 or e-mail [email protected] for more information.

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