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?