Out in Front

So the summer is coming to a close and all most people want to think about is well-deserved rest and relaxation… Heck, maybe even get to bed before 10 p.m. for the first time in 12 weeks!

True, much needed, and well deserved! But consider hanging on for one or two more weeks to ensure a brighter future a year from now.

Camper recruitment is a process that is year-round, but very important steps can be taken during the summer and directly after the conclusion of a summer to help make the next summer even better.

Educate our Clients

During the summer why not educate our clients about the future? Why not have information about next summer available for everyone leaving camp? The rates, dates and ability to pre-register, not to mention advertise for all fall events and camper weekends.

Let your current campers know before they leave the grounds after having such a wonderful experience about ways to continue the fun… Labor Day family camp, Halloween camp, winter camp, fall colors, leadership weekends and so on… These should be already planned and the information ready to go home with summer campers.

Also, why not include a letter to parents about rate changes and why for the next summer? Why not warn and allow our parents to plan a year in advance? A camp director may answer this question by saying that parents simply don’t do that. Really? Have we taught them to do that? Have we created an incentive to register a year in advance? Have we educated them about how many waiting lists we have for programs, and have we informed them that this is an opportunity for them before open registration for new campers?

It is difficult to blame the public for trends and behavior if we have not taken on the responsibility of training and educating them on ways they can better do it.

This year we are continuing our pre-registration drive for parents to do before the holidays. All summer long dates for 2006 went home with parents, including a letter explaining a rate change for 2006 and why (counselor pay and program operating costs were the main reasons).

Incentive to Motivate Action

The worst thing I have ever heard about human beings is that we are naturally lazy. Then I thought about my own quickness to action to do things that I can put off for later.

I am a procrastinator by nature. You need to give me a reason why I need to make something a priority and then I’ll get it done. Well, it’s really not important what your philosophy on the subject of human procrastination is, what is important is that we’re selling something, and if you want people to move on the sale of your product you need to make it worth their effort to do it six or nine months earlier than they normally would.

Included in the letter sent home are ways we have come up with to make pre-registration better for the family and help them to deal with the new rates.

For example, any registration received before December 15 would result in a $15 discount off of the 2006 rates. Also, a t-shirt and certificate would be mailed to the families for the holidays to give to their camper as a gift.

We instituted monthly payments for families effective January 1, allowing for six months of payments before the summer starts. Lastly, we continued to push the ability to pay for summer camp in installments over time. People like to write smaller amounts on a regular basis instead of one huge amount on their credit card or checkbook.

Informed Repetition

During the summer basic information on dates and programs to be offered the following summer is sent home, with the notice of rate increases for the next year and that a pre-registration system will be forthcoming.

Most important, as mentioned previously, is an explanation of why rates are changing. Two weeks after the close of summer camp we are re-sending this letter, with a fall newsletter and a pre-registration form with all the program fees and offerings for 2006. This program leads to retention, retention, and retention.

One of best marketing realities I have read and lived is that it costs less to keep the client you have than it costs to try and recruit a brand new one.

To be able to offer all the program offerings we hold brainstorming sessions throughout the summer and in concentration the first two weeks after summer closes. This is when we adjust the schedule and decide on what programs to re-offer or scrap, and brainstorm new programs thought up throughout the summer season.

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