How many of you have a “favorite place in the world”? You know, your favorite mall, restaurant, adrenaline park, hotel, store, golf course, beach club, ski resort… whatever… A place where you go that someone else takes care of you. Think about that place for a minute. Can you identify why it is your favorite place? Is it the way they treat you, the way you feel when you are there, the ability to unwind, relax and not worry about anything? Do you feel important, valued, treasured, cherished?

I have a place like that. My favorite place in the world. When I go to this place – I feel like royalty. Spoiled really. I’m seriously in love with this place. I post online long, detailed reviews and I even include employees by name! I encourage other guests to join the membership program, I mean, I’m helping them sell their program! I’m not just in love, I’m an advocate.

And then last weekend happened. They had lost our reservation, the hotel was at 100% occupancy, so they upgraded us to a suite – yay, right?  But then they wanted us to share it with another family! And it just went downhill from there. The dinner reservations, the reserved beach and pool chairs, the special front row seats for shows… all of our membership services that we had paid for were missing.

So, to the manager’s office we go. For three hours we listened to three different managers argue with us and give us excuses. We ended up not having to share the suite, but we weren’t feeling really great with our favorite place in the world.

Actually, we walked out thinking, “I’m never coming back to this resort. I want my money back for this weekend. Actually, I think I want my money back for the entire membership program. I want out. How many places can I post a bad review?”

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And so on.  And this is a place I love – a place that has spent 5 years building a relationship with me!

I’m guessing they were stressed, tired, and had no idea what to do with a sold out hotel – but one bad weekend and it almost ruined a five year relationship.

Can you relate to any of this? Ever have a bad customer experience?

What about if I turn it around. Do you think any of your families or staff could relate to this when they think of their relationship with your school? Ok, maybe not the sold out hotel and the lack of beach chairs, but the feeling of being forgotten? Of not getting what you paid for? Of having to complain to manager after manager and still not really being heard? Of being treated like a commodity instead of a valued customer? Of having to fight to get what you think you deserve?

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Well, guess what. We stayed for our vacation, and we still love our favorite place in the world. You want to know why? It was because they had spent five years taking care of us and ensuring that we never had a bad experience. It was because of the past that we decided to move forward with the future.

So what do you do with this story? What does that mean for your school? It means that you need to start today taking care of and ensuring your families and your staff don’t have a bad experience. It means you need to build those relationships now so that they are strong enough to handle anything that may come in the future.

And I can help you with that! It all starts with a plan… you know the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? You need a solid plan that will guide you through Day One of new families and new staff through, well, through to the end and maybe then some.

Think, what would it take to wow my new families and new staff? Have a Day One, Week One, Month One, Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly Follow Up System.  Maybe it is calling your new families at the end of day one to check in and answer any questions they may still have. Maybe it is sending flowers at the end of week one to all of your new moms just to make them smile. Maybe it is treating your new staff members to lunch at the end of month one to celebrate the completion of their training.  

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Maybe it is mailing birthday cards out each year to all of your students – and alumni students! Think outside the box, google “wow” ideas, ask current families and staff what are things you can do to make new families and staff feel welcome, come up with a list – this is your “Follow Up Steps”.

Now, take your steps and turn them into a system. Honestly, I think most of us do “things” for our new families and staff, but how consistent do we do them? Do we sometimes forget or get busy and skip some families or some staff? This is why creating the plan isn’t good enough, get them into a system. Whether it is Google calendar with tasks and reminders, customer relationship management software, or simply a piece of paper that you print out with a checklist. Create a system that you are comfortable with, that is easy to follow, and put it into action.

Imagine how different your school will look a year from now if you implement a solid follow up system today!