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NACE to introduce weekly open house for prospective families

Written on May 14th, 2008

Research shows schools have positive experience with weekly event

Following a three-day seminar on Christian school marketing May 8-10 the Niagara Association for Christian Education (NACE) is ready to implement some of the strategies introduced at the seminar. One of these strategies is a weekly open house.

Tony Kamphuis, NACE executive director, says he would like to see the weekly open house in operation by next week.

Dan Krause, founder and president of GraceWorks Ministries, delivered the seminar on Christian school marketing to a group of representatives from seven Christian schools in the Niagara region. He also visited each school to provide consultative services.

The weekly open house was one of a large number of strategies Krause presented for increasing the number of families visiting and ultimately joining a school. It was one of the few he recommended implementing immediately.

The idea isn’t for it to be a major event, as an open house tends to be when it’s held once a year, says Kamphuis.

“It’s just a pot of coffee and a clipboard set on a table in the front lobby. (People) can come in and the principal or another designated person is available to meet with them and talk for a few minutes.”

The chat is intended to an opportunity for parents to meet the school’s leader, see if the school would be a good fit for their family, as well as a straightforward chance, “…for them to come in and get a sense for what the vision is for the school.”

The weekly event can be particularly valuable for current families who are spreading the word about the school to their connections. They can share their experiences and then direct their friends and acquaintances to the open house – a low-key, non-threatening way for people to get to know more about the school. Offering the open house weekly also makes it easier for prospective families to fit a quick visit into their busy lives.

Krause suggested promoting the event in a very simple way as well; a sign outside the school the day before the event stating “Open House Tomorrow” and a sign up the day of the event stating “Open House Today” including the times. He advised the signs be posted fresh each week, rather than left up indefinitely.

Krause has recommended the weekly open house to dozens of schools, says Kamphuis.

“Of the schools that have decided to go that way, he has only heard positive feedback. It has generated more leads because the current parents refer people more easily and a very high percentage of the people that walk into the school end up thinking it’s the right place for their child.”

Kamphuis sums up Krause’s presentation as intense and very valuable to NACE, which includes Covenant Christian School in Smithville and John Knox Christian School in Stoney Creek.

The director points out that while the schools are obviously passionate about Christian education and recognize its value, they could benefit from some practical tips on marketing, which is what Krause offers.

“He’s strongly committed to strengthening Christian education; he sees that as really important in the kingdom of God. At the same time he’s very well-read in the areas of marketing and research, and those are some of the skills that we don’t necessarily have much access to. His approach to increasing the effectiveness of Word of Mouth referrals is well-focused and holds a great deal of promise.”

If you would like to learn more about Krause’s presentation, contact Tony Kamphuis at tkamphuis(at)nace.ca.