How To Raise Your Tuition Rates – The Right Way

money photoAs a child, I was fascinated by those Hair Club for Men commercials. The best part was always at the end, when the amiable Sy Sperling (sporting a lush head of hair) would hold up a photo of his formerly bald self and announce: “I’m not just the president of the Hair Club for Men – I’m also a client.”

The reason I bring this up is not because I’m yearning for a return to the 1980s, with its more manageable number of television channels and spokespeople. (There’s probably also a Donald Trump hair joke to be made here, but I’m smart enough to leave that one alone.) Rather, today I want to give you a peek behind the curtain at the parental point of view.

You see, I’m not just your friendly child care marketing consultant – I’m also a parent of young children, one of whom is in preschool (my daughter, Lorelei, has since graduated to kindergarten).

We are fortunate to be able to send Nicholas to a wonderful, NAEYC-accredited program right here in town. Today, as we always do in early April, we got a letter from the school:

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Attached is a copy of our calendar of closings and our new rates; both will be effective as of July 1, 2016…

Note the matter-of-fact, non-apologetic, non-alarmist tone. This is very appropriate, given that a) the school raises its rates every year and b) the rate increase is always small. (Nicholas’s tuition is going up by just $3 a week.) It’s also nice that we’ve been given a few months’ notice before the new rates kick in.

If you raise your rates, like clockwork, every single year, parents will come to expect it. This will also enable you to avoid the sticker shock of a huge increase because you waited too long to do it.

Also in the packet was a letter from the president of the school’s board of directors, which mentioned that “Our goal is to keep any tuition increases as reasonable as possible. We carefully balance the financial demands on our families with the goal of providing an exceptional quality education for your children.”

The letter went on to say that the latest tuition increases were voted in specifically to continue to support “our valuable teaching staff…the heart and soul of [the school],” and that they had been able to raise teacher salaries this past February and implement a longevity bonus program. The letter concludes, “Your support as parents and guardians is always greatly appreciated.”

Presenting the rate increase in this manner makes it very hard for a parent to feel bitter or begrudging about it – rather, we’ve been made to feel like we’re playing an integral part in supporting the great teachers we love and value so much. We’re all part of the same tribe, working together towards a common goal.

And that, folks, is how you do it. Well-played, Nicholas’s school. If you don’t yet have annual tuition increases at your program, well, there’s no time like the present to start.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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