How to grow your language school

How to grow your language school

January 8, 2023John O'Keefe

Even after you have carefully planned every little detail and believe you have everything in place; it is only when you finally open the doors that will you see the true results of all your hard work. This is the perfect time to sit down and analyze your strategy and focus on increasing the number of enrolments, because the empty seats in your classrooms and unfilled blocks of time in your teaching schedule are lost revenue and profits.

So let’s take some time to look at some of the crucial aspects of how to grow a language school.

1. Think about what makes your school special.

Let’s start with the basics – why do you have any students in the first place? In sales and marketing jargon, this is called your “Unique Value Proposition” or UVP. In everyday language this is what makes your business different or unique from the rest. Why do students choose your school when there are several to chose from?

Some of the features that could make you stand out are:

  • Competitive fees
  • Smart classrooms
  • Quality of teaching
  • Smaller groups
  • Great facilities
  • Excellent exam results
  • Location

To find out what makes your school stand out from the competition, you should speak to the students to who you currently teach. Collect information such as what made them choose your school and what they liked most about your teaching programmes. You could do this using SchoolMate’s Survey Module, which gives you anonymous feedback, or in interviews and use these as testimonials on social media and your school’s website to communicate powerful reasons why your school is better than the others and what makes your school the right choice.

2. Increase Retention Rate

It’s always much easier and much less expensive to keep students than it is to find and enrol new ones. You will always have students reaching their desired language goals and stopping studying, so you will never hit that 100% mark, but the aim is to increase the retention of students who continue to study.

  • Communicate.

The easiest way to retain students is to communicate with them and make them feel part of a school environment. Keep your students up-to-date with what’s going on in your school and why your school is the best for them. If they love their experiences with your school, not only will they stay, but they will also promote you to their friends. Word-of-mouth referrals make signing new students substantially easier and cheaper.

  • Use Data to Track Warning Signs.

Which students have low attendance levels and find out why. Is it because the class level is wrong or the times of the lessons are not right for them? Maybe the teacher is not meeting their expectations and needs. Ask them, show them you care, and nip problems in the bud.

  • Gather and provide feedback.

Use SchoolMate’s survey module to gather valuable opinions, insights and feedback from  students and parents on how they rate your school and their level of satisfaction with it. You can carry these out at various points in the school year to measure different aspects of your school’s performance.

By collecting testimonials from your students and publishing them on your school site , you’re giving your prospective audience insight into how:

  • You treat students.
  • Welcoming and diverse your school is.
  • Highly-trained your staff is.
  • How well-run your school is.

As well as observing teachers and providing them with your evaluation of their teaching skills, you can share their students’ overall assessments with them to help them meet their students’ needs and expectations.

3. Increase Enrolment

There are two ways to approach this: firstly, to increase the number of the students in the courses you currently have and secondly, to look for new types of courses for new potential students.

When you’re looking into how to grow your language school, you need to do market research. This not only lets you better understand your existing students, but also your potential ones. It’s important to gain insight into your target market and to know what their needs are. That way, you can see how your school can grow and change to meet those needs.

To expand your existing student population, you will need to analyze and know exactly who they are:

  • Student profile: age, background, motivation.
  • Why have they enroled in your school.
  • What makes your school attractive to them: is it the location, the facilities, the pricing or the reputation?

Ask yourself, What can I do to increase current student population enrolment? By responding to these specific questions, you will be able to increase your numbers and make your existing courses more profitable.

  • New programmes, new students.

The best thing to do when it comes to new programmes, is to identify and expand into new markets that cater to different profiles than your current students. New curriculums can attract new students and help your school grow.

  • Local businesses: maybe your school is in an area that has a lot of tourists. Why not offer local hotels and restaurants short language courses focusing on the hospitality trade?
  • Local companies: maybe there are local companies that you can offer language for special purposes courses: telephone English, Sales & Presentations.
  • Are there local state schools you could provide language teachers to? It is not very profitable but is a good way to raise the profile of your school.
  • Online courses: You could exand your current courses online and offer your own language via Zoom.

Examples we have seen of SchoolMate users responding to existing students needs and creating new markets include:

  • One school in an area with a large Muslim population offered women only classes as culturally they are not comfortable studying in a mixed classrooms.
  • Another school teaching mainly children and teenagers found that older people were reluctant to join these classes. So, they created 40+ classes.
  • Another school with afternoons free in its teaching schedule offered mother and toddler language classes.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to think of some teaching areas that you could experiment with at little or no cost.

  • Incentivise Staff

You might like to involve your administration staff by sharing your success with them. Set reasonably achieveable enrolment targets that, once hit, give staff a bonus. If your school is large enough to have a person responsible for proactively selling to, for example, local businesses, then a reward element is a great encouragement.

4. Improve Your Customer Service

What establishes your language school as a place that cares about students’ needs is providing a positive and memorable experience for the customer. It is essential for you to have a reliable customer service system that all staff understand and follow:

  • The workflow plan in your school – who does what and when?
  • Make sure your front office staff are knowledgeable about all the courses and other products you sell so they can provide a positive experience for your students and potential customers and sell the value of the school.
  • Always be polite, helpful and professional.
  • Promise a response time and keep to it.

Teachers are also a part of customer service and should know what to do if they feel a student has problems or issues in a class.

  • Zero in on reporting

As a part of dealing with students and potential students your front desk should collect data that you can use to your advantage to make informed decisions about reaching new students.

  • Do you know where most of your enquiries for classes heard of you from – referrals, internet, flyers?
  • Do you know what your conversion rate is from enquiry to enrolment?
  • Do you know what the main reasons for not enroling were: scheduled times, price?

All of these questions – and more – you should be asking so you can see where you can improve your retention and conversion rates.

5. Develop a Social Media Strategy/ Social Media Advertising

Unfortunately, many language school owners, especially if they began as teachers, tend to focus on the curriculum and lesson delivery. While this is very important in terms of meeting student needs and ensuring teaching quality, it neglects some of the crucial aspects that help a language school move forward.

Nowadays, social media is one of the most powerful ways to market your business. A social media strategy is a plan of action for using social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Facebook. If you use social media properly, it can play a pivotal role in increasing student enrolment. Also, it can boost awareness of your language school and your courses, get your name out there, and encourage potential customers to start considering your school as their best option.

Here are some steps to creating a social media strategy:

  1. Define your objectives: What do you want to achieve with your social media presence? Examples include increasing  awareness of your school, driving traffic to your website, or generating leads.
  2. Identify your target audience: Who are you trying to reach through social media? Understanding your audience will help you determine which platforms to use and what kind of content to create.
  3. Research your competitors: Look at what other schools are doing on social media. See what’s working for them and what’s not.
  4. Choose your platforms: Based on your audience and objectives, choose the social media platforms that are most relevant to your potential students. You may want to use different platforms for different age and interest groups.
  5. Develop a content calendar: Plan out the content you will post on each platform, including text, images, and videos. Co-ordinate it to your school year and the best times to boost enrolments and generate leads. Make sure that your content aligns with your brand voice and is tailored to your audience.
  6. Measure and evaluate: Use analytics tools to track your social media performance and make adjustments to your strategy as needed.
  7. Be consistent: Be consistent with your posting schedule and your brand message across all the social media platforms.
  8. Engage with your audience: Respond to comments, messages and reviews in a timely manner, and use social listening tools to monitor and join relevant conversations about your school or the language teaching industry.

A good social media strategy should be dynamic and flexible, as the social media landscape is constantly changing, and your business goals may shift over time.

6. Utilise Email Marketing

Using email campaigns can help make sure your school stays on top of customers’ minds. It’s also a great way to move existing and potential students through your sales funnel.

There is a wide range of email marketing tools with free and premium versions you can choose from. The cost of the premium versions are very low, and investing in premium versions of email marketing tools is worth it.

What are some effective email marketing tips for schools?

  • Attract the reader’s attention quickly with your subject line.
  • Use eye-catching visuals: Include engaging visuals in your emails to capture the reader’s attention and make your message more memorable.
  • Personalize your email by using your school’s branding (logo, fonts, colors) and address the receivers by their name.
  • Make your emails mobile-friendly: Ensure that your emails are optimized for mobile devices, as most people open emails on their smartphones.
  • Keep your emails short and to the point: Make sure your emails are easy to read and understand, and don’t overwhelm the reader with too much information.
  • Segment your email list: by doing this Segment your email list based on the interests and preferences of your subscribers.
  • Include a clear call-to-action: Make it clear what you want the recipient to do after reading your email.
  • Test and analyze your campaigns: Track the performance of your email campaigns and use the data to improve your future efforts.

7. Pay Attention to Your School’s Website

Your website is an major factor in how many enquiries your language school receives. First impressions are important, and it will either turn prospects into applicants or turn them away for good. Make your school’s website user-friendly, clean and interesting with a good layout and quality content.

Effective marketing means investing in a well-designed website for your school and making it visually appealing for your readers.

  • Make sure to hire a professional web developer – if you don’t know how to do it yourself.
  • Make sure your website to be easy to navigate and loads quickly, is visually appealing and is mobile responsive.
  • Make sure there are a few Calls to Action (CTA). A CTA is an instruction to the visitor in order to encourage them to take some kind of action, such as “call us now”, “schedule a visit to our school”, “subscribe to our Newsletter” or  “check your language level with our online test”.
  • Have your unique value proposition clear on your website.
  • Include testimonials.
  • Think about adding a promotional video that clearly shows what your school stands for.
  • Have teacher profiles with photos where they can introduce themselves with a short career/life summary, mention their hobbies and an interesting fact about them
  • Have a contact page that allows you easily collect the enquirer’s data, what they are interested in and how they heard of you.
  • Have links to your social media pages on your website.
  • Have your contact details visible on your website.
  • Maybe include a map showing your exact location, photos of your building, and details of how to get there by car, public transport etc.,

Leave a good, lasting impression on people who contact your school for the first time by aligning your website with your school’s culture.

8. Optimise your website for search engines

If people search on the Internet for potential schools, you want your name to appear on the first pages of Google. If you want this to happen, you have to optimise your website for what is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO helps your target audience discover your website quickly and places your site in a competitive position on the results page.

Here are some steps to optimise a website for search engines through SEO:

  1. Conduct keyword research to identify relevant keywords and phrases for your website.
  2. Optimise your website’s content and meta tags (title and description) to include these keywords.
  3. Improve website structure and navigation to make it easy for search engines to crawl and index your site.
  4. Build quality backlinks to your website from other relevant and reputable sites.
  5. Monitor your website’s performance and make adjustments as needed to improve rankings and drive more traffic to your site.
  6. Ensure that the website is mobile friendly and has a fast loading speed.
  7. Use a site map to help search engines understand the content of your site.
  8. Create fresh and unique content on regular basis.

SEO is an important long-term strategy, and the results may not be immediate. If you feel that you have enough other things to do in running your school, this might be a task that you could consider employing someone to spend a few hours each month updating and checking your site. There are plenty of freelance workers happy to take on jobs like this. Upwork is a good place to find SEO experts.

Time to Grow

Our objective with this article is to help you become more confident in what you are doing and more excited about expanding your business successfully. So, whether you want to improve the student’s enrolment or the overall situation at your school, we hope these practical steps will help you to grow your school effectively.