Retention after beginners' courses

Discussion in 'Club Corner' started by idris, Jul 25, 2018.

  1. idris

    idris Rookie

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    Our club frequently struggles with retention of "new" fencers.
    We run 3 or 4 beginners' courses each year, but keeping students' interest beyond the end of those has proved challenging.
    Critical mass is obviously an issue, but being a small/medium sized club in a commuter town, this in itself will inevitably always have its own difficulties.

    What have other clubs found successful in getting beginners to sign up to onging membership, both in respect of course duration, what is offered during courses and after?
     

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  2. Grey Sabreur

    Grey Sabreur Made the Cut

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    This is an issue for many smaller clubs.

    Is the style of your introductory class putting an emphasis on becoming a high performing competitor? Or does it emphasize the fun of recreational fencing? Are you pitching to parents to get their offspring fencing or is the message that fencing is for all ages?

    Where I'm going with these questions is perhaps we all need to examine what the flavour of our club is. And, does our beginner class really reflect that? And does that cast a net wide enough to catch everything that fencing can be to its varied participants?
     
  3. TooLoftheDeviL

    TooLoftheDeviL gother than thou

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    Knowing what your customer profile looks like is super important like Grey Sabreur mentions above.

    My general advice is to test and record everything. Have actual stats about retention rates. Does one of your beginner courses fair better than others? Is it taught be a different instructor or at a different time?

    And then look at the transition. What are you asking from your beginners to move on? Do they go from one day a week on Saturday morning to two days a week on Tuesday and Thursday? That's a huge schedule shift, and they may have already filled that time at the start of the year.
     
  4. jkormann

    jkormann Podium

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    I know at the Y we lost a lot of students when we shifted our Beginner and Intermediate class days around. They were both on Friday, then one on Friday and one Saturday, then both Saturday, then one Friday and the other Saturday (switch from the prior split). I don't think many people could keep-up, and I still don't know the root reason why they kept moving...
     
  5. idris

    idris Rookie

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    Interesting thoughts.

    If you regard your courses as having been successful in terms of membership generation, to what would you attribute that?
     
  6. TooLoftheDeviL

    TooLoftheDeviL gother than thou

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    This is why it's important to test. 2 reasons:

    1. You need to define "successful." Track actual retention numbers to see if things are working or not.

    2. Tests take time. Stuff isn't usually attributable to JUST one thing. If you run a class in August and measure retention, make a change, and then run a class in September to find that retention has improved - it MIGHT be because of that change - or it might be that more people sign up for classes in September. But if you have last year's data and then only thing you've changed is this recent change - you're likely on the right track.
     
  7. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Is there a path for beginners to move from class to the general population? When I was teaching classes, we had a progression of classes for everyone starting. We offered intermidiate classes after the beginning classes that kept people in the club, with the goal of moving them into open fencing. We made sure that our "teaching assistants" were other competitive fencers so that when the students moved out of class there would be a few faces in the room that they would know when they showed up without a structured class.

    The more time you keep students in the club and making them part of the club, the more likely it is for them to continue. That sounds obvious, but I'm still surprised how few clubs do that. Simply teaching a beginning class and then telling the fencers to show up to fence "any time" is a sure reciepe for low retention. People are creatures of habit, and they like familiar things.
     

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