When we talk about enrollment strategies, it’s easy to obsess over specifics. How to write the best email or tour script, where to find your family prospects, and how to ask for the close. But there’s one crucial parameter that so many admissions officers ignore: Timing.
It doesn’t matter if you're objectively the best school in town. If you don’t contact the parent prospect at the right time, they won’t care. It’s as simple as that.
Timing is the one factor that underlies and supports everything you do. And if you’re not thinking about it at every step of your enrollment process, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You need to have a deep understanding of how your prospective parents spend their days.
Being purposeful and deliberate about timing is like creating your own luck. You’re improving your chance of being in the right place at the right time and getting the enrollment. Timing is the defining factor in whether any of your enrollment strategies are successful. And to be truly successful, you need to go deep and think about all the timing factors and how they can influence your parent’s mood, priorities, and willingness to talk.
This means thinking about:
- Time of the day: How does your parent start and finish their day? What does their routine look like? What time during their day are they most likely to have a few minutes to engage with you deeply? Days of the week: What do you know about how your prospective parents structure their week? When do they have stressful meetings or deadlines? How much can you learn about the flow of their week?
- Weeks in the month: Do your target parents have projects that are on a month-to-month basis? Are they so busy the last week of the month that you’re going to annoy them by calling over and over?
- Months in the quarter: Again, what is the structure of your target parents' quarter? When are they under the most pressure and thinking more short-term?
- Quarters in the year: Lastly, what is the whole flow of your target parents' year? When does their fiscal year end? When are they more likely to even have the budget to hear you out?
Timing isn’t just about time.
It’s not only dates we’re looking at when we talk about timing in enrollment. There are also specific events that will influence when is the best time to contact your prospects. There are annual fairs and community events which can inform when you reach out and how you tailor your communication.
Even local or national news might have a drastic impact on your parent's mood and willingness to come in for a tour. And what about when a parent inquires online?
If you contact a lead too late, they’re much less likely to want to talk. Calling or texting parents within 5 minutes of their inquiry can give you a 100X higher reach rate than if you wait an hour or a day. You know they’re at their computer and are interested in what you have to offer. So, why not use this to your advantage?
Each of these timing factors can determine whether or not you get a response. If your prospect is in the best frame of mind to hear you out, they will flow further down your enrollment funnel with much less friction. Catch them at the right time and you’re already a step ahead of the competition.
The more you know about your parent persona, the better chance you have of reaching them at the right time. School heads often ask me: What’s the right time to call, email, or text a prospect? The answer is, I don’t know. How could I? I don’t know your parent audience. I don’t know their schedule, their routines, or their habits. The only way to answer this question is to know how your parent persona spends their days, weeks, months, and years.
For example, I know my type of buyer (school administrators) usually spends the last hour of their workday cleaning up their inbox. At this point of the day, their mailbox is less polluted, and they’re more open to thinking long-term rather than about what needs to get done today. By knowing how they spend their day, I know that I’ll get a better response by emailing them later in the day.
So, take 30 minutes with your enrollment team and go through all those timing factors we listed above. Grab a whiteboard and map out what your parent persona is doing hour-by-hour, day-by-day and so on, with all the key dates that impact their routine.
The more you know about how they spend their time, the better results you’ll get from your enrollment efforts. If you don’t know where to begin, start by following up and learning as much as you can about how your prospects spend their day.
The rest will come together in time. Timing will become much more apparent as you gain more parent intimacy. Following up in the right way will dramatically increase your chance of reaching your prospective parents at the right time. Good timing makes all your other enrollment strategies more powerful. There’s no “perfect time” to reach out to every parent. But there is a perfect time to reach out to your parent persona. And the closer you get to understanding when that is, the more powerful all your other enrollment strategies will become.
*adapted from our partner in crime, the great Steli Efti, brought to you from the blog of close.io