Guidelines for Replying to Students
Over the years I have been asked by many teachers how to improve their conversion of enquiries to students. I have drawn together this advice into the article below to help maximize your chances of converting that enquiry into a student booking a regular lesson slot. There is a lot of common-sense advice, yet it will amaze you how easy it is to let an enquiry slip through the net.
Don’t make them wait. This should be a common-sense approach, but don’t make new students wait days for a reply. If a new enquiry lands in your inbox, you should aim to reply within the first 24 hours. Even better if you can reply in 12 hours or less.
If a student has emailed you or left a voicemail, chances are they are actively looking. Some people will contact local teachers on impulse and may only convert to paying lessons if action is taken quickly. No one likes to be kept waiting. Get back in touch as soon as possible.
Focus on the First Booking
When you get an enquiry, it is important to try to convert that to a paying lesson as soon as possible. Many teachers will reply with some immediately free slots:
“I have a free slot this Wednesday at 7:30pm if that suits you? I also have a few other slots, but they get booked up fast so let me know what suits you and we can get something arranged.”
This direct approach will put the student in a position to accept or reject the initial proposed slot and gives them the prompt to provide further days that might suit them better. It also creates the illusion that your slots are in high demand and are being booked fast, even if no interest has been shown for that slot before.
Make it Easy for the Student
Make sure your reply contains all the information they need to know so that they don’t have to ask you anything in the follow-up. A great reply would contain everything needed to make the student say yes or no to a booking. It should remove the need for them to draw the conversation out with further questions.
“I charge £XXXX for a 60-minute lesson or £XXXX for a 30-minute lesson. I am based in the XXXXXXX area of XXXXXXX, not too far from XXXXXXXXX (Insert a landmark or known place nearby – could be a supermarket, motorway, shopping centre etc.). If you’d like to discuss things in more detail, I can give you a call at a convenient time.”
Many students might want to gauge what sort of levels you may teach. This is also relevant information for this email. Let them know what ability levels, ages and genres you teach as well as any extras you may offer.
“I take on students from total beginners to more advanced performers so it doesn’t matter if you’ve never played before, I can certainly help you get things moving. I take on students from age 7 and up and I also offer graded exams which many younger students enjoy. My teaching style is XXXXXXXXXXXX and I teach a range of genres including blues, rock, pop, funk and more.”
Following up with an enquiry can be as important as the initial reply. When replying to the initial email, many teachers find it useful to send a text message at the same time (providing the student has left a contact number):
“Hey, it’s XXXXX from XXXXX Lessons in XXXXXX. Just wanted to send you a text to let you know that I’ve replied to your email about lessons. If you haven’t received it, let me know. Sometimes emails from new senders can end up in the Spam folder. I’m happy to give you a call to run over this at a time that suits you. Thanks.”
This acts as a call to action. It not only directly informs the student that a reply has been made, but it also ensures this doesn’t get missed in the event that the student receives a high volume of e-mail traffic on a daily basis.
Once the replies have been sent, following up on non-replies is effective. Sometimes this can take as many as 3+ follow up emails in order to book that lesson in. 1 day after, 5 days after and 14 days after are usually good benchmarks for chasing replies. Send friendly follow ups to see if the student is still interested.
Things to Avoid
If a student contacts you for a lesson, you as the teacher should be aiming to make the process as simple as possible. Don’t reply with open ended questions that could potentially put the student off. The best action is to get the student on the phone where possible.
Your initial email reply should follow the guidelines set out here to provide the student with the most amount of information to avoid the need for them to ask further questions and draw the process out. If the student has not included a phone number in their initial response, you should ask them for a number and a best time to call them, or alternatively give them your number directly and state the best times to call you.
This should be alongside the detailed introductory email. You should never reply to an email enquiry and just tell the student to call you or set up a call without having provided them all the information they need. This allows them chance to read over everything before speaking with you on the phone.
Remember to be polite, professional and courteous at all times and provide the students with the same high standards of customer service that you’d expect if you were in their situation. There is nothing ground breaking here, no super formula that will instantly improve the conversion of students to enquiries – often instead it is a lot of hard work by a teacher to grind out conversions of enquiries into students that might not have otherwise converted.
I see some fantastic examples of teachers across the country doing this, putting in that little extra work and injecting their personality into each communication with the student. That cumulative effort over time makes a tremendous difference to their teaching business. For more information on how to you can help to improve your conversion of enquiries to students don’t hesitate to reach out to talk with me more about it – [email protected].