What’s your phone procedure?

When someone calls you for information, what do you tell them? Do you have a “template” or “script” that you use on the phone?

I noticed that each of my inquiry calls goes for about 7 minutes…

During this time here’s what I do:

# 1. Look at my mobile phone to see if it captured the incoming number or if it says “unknown caller” – this is THE most important step. (See step #9 for further explanation.)

# 2. Ask if they are calling about classes for themselves or their kids.

# 3. I then explain which class would be most suitable and tell them when the next class is.

# 4. At this point I invite the caller to try a free trial class, by saying something like, “I have a class for your 9 year old son tomorrow at 4.00pm . It’s a 45 minute class and it’s just for beginners like him. You’re welcome to come and try it at no charge and see if your son enjoys it. How does 4.00pm suit you?”

If they tell me that this time or day isn’t suitable, I’ll then say something like…”The next available class for him would be on Friday at 3.45pm . How does that suit you?”

If I still get a “we’ve got soccer on Friday at that time”, I’ll try one final time with “How about Monday?”

# 5. At this point if the caller can’t commit to coming down to try a free class then you’re going to have trouble getting them to sign up at all.

Why?

Simply because their schedule is too busy or it conflicts with your classes.

Or maybe they are just “flakey” and have difficulty committing. If they can’t hold an appointment for a free class, do you think they will be able to commit on a regular basis?

Either way it’s simply not going to work out. Cut your losses and move on…

NEVER put the student into a class that isn’t for beginners just so you can sign ’em up! It’ll kill your other class and people will see you as a pushover.
If the caller says, “Sure, tomorrow at 4.00pm sounds fine”, I’ll then ask them for a verbal commitment to training. I’ll say “Ok great, let me ‘pencil you in’ for tomorrow at 4.00. What was your name please? And your son’s name?”

Note: ‘Penciling someone in’ does 2 things.

Firstly it confirms to the caller that you’ve taken them seriously and have ‘registered’ them for the class – you’ve reserved a place just for them!

Secondly, they usually feel obligated to attend as they’ve given you a verbal confirmation. At this point I’ll then say, “There’s only a couple of places left in this particular class for new students – if you can’t make it for whatever reason, would you please call me and let me know?”

Again I’ve reinforced gently and professionally that they better be serious about this ‘karate thing’ and get themselves down to the club tomorrow at 4.00pm ! If they don’t, they’ll feel badly that they didn’t attend as there were limited places available – so guess what? 90%+ of callers don’t want to feel bad, so they keep their appointment.

#6. I ask them if they have the address of the club and then give them driving directions.

#7. I ask them how they heard about us. Another important point – take notice of where your leads come from! You want keep tabs on what’s working and what needs attention.

#8. Before I end the call, I thank them for their time and tell them “I’ll see you Wednesday at 4.00pm.”

#9. In step #1 I mentioned that I get the caller’s phone number from my mobile phone caller id. However if it’s an anonymous call, at this point I’ll ask the caller for their phone number “just in case” I need to call them before now and class.
This is critical!
You must capture the name and number of your leads so you can follow up with them! You will increase your student signups and student retention instantly by following up with people.
If they don’t show for whatever reason, you can call them back. Most people who miss an appointment feel badly about it and will reschedule with you if you call them. By calling them it also shows that you care – that you went out of your way to see why they didn’t show.
Of course when you call back, always take the voice of concern, not the voice of accusation!

When I call back I say something like, “Hi Anna, it’s Jason Stanley from the karate school. How are you? I just wanted to check in with you to see if everything is ok? I had your son Daniel booked in for a class yesterday at 4.00pm , but we missed you…”

At this point I SHUT UP!

I wait for them to answer…

Usually they apologise and reschedule.

Now, back to the checklist…

#10. From here I enter their details into an excel spreadsheet with the parent’s name, student’s name, age, phone number, the class they’ll be attending, time and date of the call and how they heard about us. This is a great way to stay focussed and and keep track of your prospects rather than simply scribling their name on a scrap piece of paper somewhere…

Well, there you have it – my phone procedure in a nutsehll.

3 Critical Points To Note!

  • You’ll notice with this simple script I’m leading the call. I’m directing the caller to exactly where I want them to go.

    If they interupt and ask about other stuff, I simply say, “There’s a few other things that I need to explain and show you about how the program works which I can’t do over the phone… so when you come down on Wednesday, please arrive about 10-15 minutes early so we’ll have a chance to meet and I can run through it with you.”

  • I never ask a closed-ended question (one that generates a YES/NO response). Instead of asking “Is Wednesday at 4.00pm a good time?”, I’ll say “How does Wednesday at 4.00pm suit you?”

    This encourages them to talk to you – the more the person talks to you, the more you can show them what a great person you are, how friendly you are, that you care and want to help them!

  • I don’t mention price.

    If they ask, I tell them I have classes starting at $20/4 classes but it really depends on what program they choose, etc. and that I’ll explain it all on Wednesday at 4.00pm.

Now for your homework. =)

Analyze what you say when someone calls you and compare it to my simple script here.

  • Are you making a friendly and professional impression?
  • Are you leading the conversation?
  • Are you giving them the information they want?
  • Are you sellling the benefits of your program?
  • Are you asking open-ended or closed-ended questions?
  • Are you penciling them in?
  • Are you capturing their phone number and name (and children’s names)?
  • Do you confirm the time with them and get a verbal agreement?
  • Do you find out where your caller heard about your school?
  • Do you give them driving directions?

I want to hear from you – please post your comments/questions/responses below by clicking on “comments”.

Have a great week!

 

– Jason

P.S. I’m going to be away next week from July 4-11 at the Kobe Osaka International World Cup in Moscow, Russia (Check out http://www.worldkarate.net if you’re interested) so my next post won’t be until at least July 12.

Server Crash

Last week my email server crashed. =(

The good news is that it’s up and running again.

The bad news is that the list was wiped.

The good news is that you can resubscribe by visiting the home page.

The bad news is that if you didn’t make it to this page from the newsletter link, you’ll never know this…

The good news is that if you are here now, you know what to do. 😉

I always try to end on a good note.

Which reminds me of a story – do you know the story of the Chinese farmer and his son?

A Chinese farmer lived in a small village with his only son. He was a poor man and had only one horse to plough his fields. One day his horse broke free and escaped.

The village people came to him and said, “You poor man – you must be cursed. You only have one horse and now he’s gone! What will you do?”

The farmer replied, “How do you know this is curse? Perhaps it’s a blessing.”

The villagers looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and left.

Later in the year, the horse returned with 25 of the finest stallions in the land. The villagers once again visited the farmer and exclaimed, “You are so blessed! Now you will be able to plough your land with ease!”

The farmer retorted, “How do you know this is a blessing? What if it’s a curse?” The villagers again looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and left.

Then 2 weeks later when working the fields, the farmer’s son fell from a horse and was trampled.

The villagers heard the news and returned to offer their condolences, “You poor man, you truly must be cursed. Your only son is now confined to a chair and can no longer farm the land with you.”

The farmer responded, “Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise?”

The villagers, for the 3rd time, looked at each other puzzled and left.

Early the next year civil war broke out and all the able bodied men were called to fight. Of course the farmer’s son could not go…

Three months later a messenger came with the sad news that all the young men had been killed in battle. Of course the villagers returned once more…

I guess the lesson for today is this…

Stuff happens.

It’s how you look at it and how you react that determines your success or failure.

There’s never a perfect time to begin anything.

If you’re considering implementing something BIG for your school and you’re waiting for a better time to start – I’ll let you in on a secret…

Ready?

There isn’t a better time!

You’ll always have something else going on, like your horse running away or returing with 25 others.

It doesn’t matter – stuff happens and will always happen.

It’s up to you.

For your karate school’s success!

– Jason

Are You Bonding?

Today I want to let you in on one of my little secrets for success.

It’s called bonding.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard this word before, but many instructors fail to bond with their students and worse yet, their student’s parents. They’re the ones who pay your bills right?

Here’s a little story to explain…

When I visited a club here in the USA a couple of years ago, I was shocked. I’d met a few of the junior students and said “hi” to their parents, but never was formally introduced by the sensei.

When I had a moment to speak with the sensei alone, I asked him, “What’s Steven’s father’s name?”

He responded with “I don’t know. I don’t remember… I barely remember the kids’ names. Which one is Steven again?”

I was shocked, as my parents always taught me to be courteous, to remember my “pleases” and “thankyous”, and always call people by their name.

From a business perspective, remembering students and parents names is critical. More people will deal with you (and be a valued student for much longer) when you “go the extra step”, by doing the little things that others don’t – like remembering their names and using them in conversation.

This is a key to student retention.

This is one way to build a remarkable reputation. A remarkable reputation in the true meaning that people will “remark” to their friends, colleagues and family about YOU.

Now if you have 30, 50, 100 or more students, you might think that remembering all your students’ names is difficult. I don’t believe it is, but it does take practice.

And of course you must be sincere.

I make it a habit every week to remember at least one more parent’s name – even the ones who I don’t see very often. I make it my business to know my students and their families. I like to know what the parents do for a living, where they live and about their personal lives.

I also speak with the younger brothers and sisters before class, ask them their names and start the bonding process with them.

As a result I’ve had plenty of younger brothers and sisters join my program and a heap of parents tell me things like, “When Daniel is older, he’ll be in your program too!”

And as a result of this bonding I’ve had parents help me in other ways too – like having the transmission of my ’65 Mustang completely rebuilt for $150 (usually upward of $1,200), having furniture donated to the club, and much more. One parent even took 3 weeks off work to help me construct my new dojo!

I never asked for any of this stuff either – but I gladly accept it when it comes around.

I do it because I like people and I’m genuinely interested. The byproduct is that my club is growing quickly and I’ve developed a great network of friends and terrific karate students.

How much bonding are you doing?

– Jason

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