Grow Your School Budget
Teachers, Principals, Staff, School Board Members, and Parents,
Have you ever wondered what your school would be able to do if you were able to fill every class to capacity? Are there plans your school has made or projects you want to complete, but you just don’t have the recourses? As a member of the school board of Family of Christ Christian School in Tampa, FL (we’re about to launch a new, custom site), these are questions that I thought about a lot and I think I’ve found an answer to these questions.
I should start by telling you a little about Family of Christ. Family of Christ is a great school with great people. It’s also a growing school. We started eight years ago with a Kindergarten and have been adding a new grade level every year and even added two grade levels in one year a few years ago. With that kind of expansion and growth, it meant we had at least an additional 20 students to enroll every year not including the normal come and go of students. Easier said than done. Last year we added our final grade level of 8th grade and had our first graduating class. This year we currently have about 135 students, though that number is growing.
Every school board meeting we would cover the normal topics which included discussing and planning things for the coming months. One of the problems, however, was that we had a lot of really great ideas, but didn’t always have the budget to implement them.
As with most schools we were limited by our budget. We would get requests for the school to get a great new math curriculum or have another video projector for teachers to use or we would see things that needed to be done, like painting the hallway or re-mulching the playground, but that budget kept getting in the way.
And then there were the teacher salaries, something in which I had particular interest with my wife teaching third grade. As one of the school board members put it, “We want to have the best educational environment and the best teachers, but we are paying our teachers less than the public schools pay. We can’t expect to get or keep the best if we don’t pay them well.”
Fortunately for the school and our students, teachers tend to be a different breed. They aren’t in it for the money. Let’s face it, even when teachers are paid well, they aren’t paid well. Family of Christ has been blessed with great teachers who care more about teaching and sharing Christ with children then making more money; however, that didn’t make it alright to pay them less
…but there’s that budget again.
We were limited by our budget and our budget was limited by how many students we had.
We knew we wanted to have more students. So, we were occasionally sending out direct mailings to thousands of homes and occasionally getting some advertising in the newspaper. The problem was that every time we talked about doing one of these marketing efforts it was discussed as an expense; but marketing isn’t supposed to be an expense. The point of marketing is to bring in more revenue. In the case of a school, you want to bring in more students.
One day it hit me. Why are we ringing our hands over spending a couple thousand dollars on a marketing campaign when every student was paying about $5500 in tuition and fees? I asked the board, “How much additional cost is it for us to enroll and teach a new student?” There are some supplies and additional costs, but like most schools the answer was that it didn’t cost the school much extra to add a student. In fact the vast majority of that $5500 the student paid was additional revenue for the school that would enable us to either more easily meet our budget or give us the opportunity to do some of those things we’d wanted to do but were unable to do because we didn’t have the money.
So, we realized that we needed to market the school more and better. It doesn’t matter if we spend $10,000 marketing the school, if we bring in three additional students, we will have more money than when we started. This was a great opportunity for our school to change the way it thought about marketing from an expense to a way to increase revenue.
I also happened to have another opportunity. As the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com, I had the opportunity to develop an effective way to market schools online, something that could not only help the Christian school I was involved with, but also thousands of other private schools. And that’s what we did.
Yesterday we launched the Top School Search Rankings service. The Top School Search Rankings service targets online sources, such as search engines, Internet Yellow Pages, School directories, and more to help schools increase their online presence. With more and more people searching online to find what their looking for, online marketing is a key component to any schools marketing campaign. It’s designed to help bring more visitors to your school’s website and thus help you bring in more students. It’s priced so that if just about any private or Christian school gets even one additional student, the service will have paid for itself.
Remember, marketing isn’t an expense; it’s an investment. It’s a way to increase revenue.
I was talking with our Director of Customer Support, Karl yesterday. His wife teaches at another school in the area. He mentioned some of the issues his wife’s school was having. I responded that they should get the Top School Search Rankings service. He commented that the school was struggling financially and recently had to make some cutbacks, so he didn’t think they would spend the money.
So I told him, “When schools (or businesses) are struggling to meet their budget and cover expenses, that’s usually the time they need to market their school the most. You can try to balance the budget by cutting back expenses, or you can balance the budget by bringing in more students and thus increasing your income. Which is more helpful in the long run? Which has less of a negative impact on the school and its staff? Which will help your school grow?”
If your school is struggling to meet its budget or if the school is doing just fine but would like to grow even more, I invite you to try the Top School Search Rankings service. Parents are searching the Internet for schools for their children; the Top School Search Rankings service can help those parents find your school.
You can learn more about the Top School Search Rankings service and watch a short informational video about the service at:
Have you or your school had trouble meeting enrollment? What has your school done to address that? Please add your comments and stories.