There are very few ways to get a new student that are better than from a referral.
In fact, it’s so good, my school is a referral based school.
These days, everyone is bombarded by loud advertisements, commercials, billboards and sales people all day long. To a certain degree those methods work (or else they’d stop doing it), but ultimately it is an intrusion that you tolerate and far from what you really want.
Referrals are the exact opposite.
Referrals find out about you only when your satisfied customers share with their friends, co-workers and acquaintances about how great their experience training with you is!
The benefits of acquiring leads from referrals are huge and unfortunately overlooked by most business owners.
Prospects who come to you through a referral cost much less to obtain. Your cost per lead will drop sharply and you’ll be able to use the money you save to come up with new and creative ways for acquiring referrals.
Referrals are also much more likely to enroll in your school. If you think about it, you’ve already cleared a number of hurdles in the prospects mind because if their friend likes you then there is an automatic perceived level of trust. When they come in to visit your school they won’t have their guard up as much as someone who is just a walk-in or who responded to an ad.
According to Mark Wayshak, author of “Game Plan Selling”, typical closing ratios of cold calls are often under 1 percent. The closing ratio of an inbound lead usually ranges between 15 percent and 30 percent. In sharp comparison, the closing ratio of a strong referral can be as high as 80 percent.
Also, referrals will often buy more and for longer. Because someone they know and trust is already doing what the prospect is just finding out about, their level of trust in you is heightened.
When you share with them what you offer and what you are promising them, their guard is down and they are actually paying attention to what you are saying rather than worrying about being “sold” something.
With this barrier out of the way, they are more likely to enroll in your longer term or higher priced programs with less resistance.
Finally, referrals will bring you more referrals. When they know that referrals are important to you and you are actively looking for new referrals, your members are more inclined bring in referrals. Not only do they get to workout with their friends, but they also are getting validation for the choice they made to join your school.
In today’s world of Yelp reviews, facebook recommendations, Angie’s List and Google searches – what other people have to say about you and your business carries more weight than anything you could possible say about yourself.
Now that you know why referrals are one of, if not the best, way to attract new members, we’ll address how you put this into action in your school.
It’s a very simple process.
First thing you need to do is identify those times during the year when your students are the most excited, the most proud of their training. Moments like when they first sign up, when they upgrade to a new program and testings.
Then you must create systems that you can make part of your sales process and events.
For example, when someone schedules an appointment with us we ask them if they’d like to bring a friend with them. About 20%-25% of them will ask someone to go with them just because you asked.
If a student comes to me with a compliment, a great story or something they’ve accomplished I’ll say something along the lines of, “Don’t keep that a secret!”
When a new students enrolls with us, as part of their new student package they receive two referral cards to give to two friends that they’d like to train with. And the cards do all the talking for them. The last thing I want is a new student telling their friends how funny they look in a uniform, how much the class kicked their ass and how sore they are. Yes, those things may all be true, but I want them to be introduced to all the benefits of Taekwon-Do.
They also receive something similar when they commit to a longer term program.
At Testing, students receive a buddy pass for friends to join them in class the following week. Everyone is learning new content in class so the “buddies” don’t feel like they’re left behind and we keep it simple and fun that first week.
The last one I’ll touch on here is the monthly Buddy Night. Our last event had 10 kids who were not members and they all received special passes to attend a free intro. This is a great way to consistently get referrals because in addition to all the benefits of referrals I mentioned above, these kids and their families have now been introduced to you, your location and the benefits of your program.
You can see that this is something that can be embedded into the culture of the school. The students and their families can actually be trained that this is how you operate.
Take a look at the events you host and your sales processes to determine where you can take advantage of opportunities to ask for referrals. You can start by creating a referral environment and having a referral mindset. It all begins with becoming aware of the opportunity that’s in front of you and taking advantage of that opportunity.
Many instructors have tried referral contests or handed out passes and have had little to no success because it was a one shot deal. The key here is to establish a success system. If you have a system, there is no failure, there is only testing. If something works, keep it up. If not, try something new until you find out what works for you and your school.
You’ll also need to make sure that you are referable. Do you have a way to make sure that it was a total pleasure to do business with you and your school such that people will actually want to refer you? Do you know if what you provided is seen as invaluable to your customer? Are you aware of how you will stay in touch with your customers over time? Do you fall off their radar once you do business together or do you stay closely connected? Make sure it’s the latter.
Finally you must have a way to manage your referrals. How you treat your referrers will determine whether or not they well continue to bring you more referrals. Do you call them immediately to thank them, send them a thank you note, or send a special gift? It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant especially when you are just starting off, but there needs to be some type of acknowledgement.
When you create this culture in your school you are also creating an enthusiastic army of sales people singing your praises all over the community!
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do. He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org