Attract New Students: Advertise!
Word of mouth is, of course, the best advertising. But for new programs, you have to start from scratch. There are so many local papers. I put in an ad in lots of papers reasonably cheaply. A typical ad would look like this:
BRIDGE: LEARN TO PLAY BRIDGE IN 4 WEEKS: LEARN TO PLAY BRIDGE: FREE BEGINNERS’ BRIDGE LESSON: BARBARA SEAGRAM SCHOOL OF BRIDGE.
Wed. 4 Sep 7.15-9.15 pm. Please pre-register. The most popular card game in the world. Fun, fascinating, exciting! We make it fun & easy to learn. Meet new & interesting people. Fall beginner classes commence late Sep & Oct. aft & eve. for 8 weeks. Free Beginner lesson: Wed. 4 Sep 7.15 pm. Must pre-register. Intermediate lessons: 6 weeks. Call 416-484-9447 (1-4 or 8-11 pm) or 416-484-6039. American Contract Bridge League. 808 Mt. Pleasant @ Eglinton. www.barbaraseagram.com
If you mention ACBL anywhere, ACBL will send you back some co-op advertising money (up to US$1000.00) when you send copies of ads and receipts. It helps. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information about this.
The free bridge lesson brings in large numbers of new students to my classes. It is tricks and trumps and a few bridge hands (rather like Club Series Lesson 1). Feed them afterward. Tell them about the classes that will start in three weeks and they are signing up and giving you cheques like mad. Pre-enroll as much as possible, don’t tell them they can bring their cheques to lesson # 1. You need commitment! If they have already paid, they are FAR more likely to show up. You must hold the free bridge lesson with lots of lead time before the course of lessons that is starting.
I used to have a decal on the back of my van advertising bridge lessons (rear window). It costs $85.00 only. I look like a plumber but what the heck! I think it is good advertising.
Posters in all grocery shopping stores, libraries etc. Focus on the free bridge lesson.
Selling your Classes: Charge per course, not per class
I do not allow students to pay for part of a course. If they have to miss a few lessons, I tell them they can make up the classes anytime in the next five years. Same with the Seminars. Selling per class is not a good way to make money. I think that we as teachers undercharge. I have just raised all our prices and the turnout did not drop. Charge for the full course even if they have to miss. (You can make the occasional exception but I vow them to secrecy at that time!)