Whether they're walking into a trial class, a weekly mini session, or a full three months of gymnastics summer camp, the very first class sets the tone for the rest of a new student's experience and can create a positive or negative reputation for your club. That's why it's important to make sure that the first day goes smoothly for both the child and their parents.
Here are 5 tips for ensuring a great first experience at your gymnastics club:
Let them know what to expect
Signing up your child for a new sport or activity can be stressful for parents. There are probably an infinite number of questions going through their minds: will their child make friends? Are all the safety precautions being taken? Is their child at the same level as the other kids? Ease their minds by letting them know what their first day of class will look like. Let them know where to go when they come in and who they should speak with to get set up. Suggest that they show up 15 minutes early on their first day so you can show them around and introduce them.
Meet them at the door and take them on a tour
Coming into your club on the first day can be stressful for a child. Being their first time, they don’t know anyone, they don’t know where anything is and they’re most likely to act a little shy in a new environment. If possible, meet them at the door and greet them with “You must be __, are you ready for your first gymnastics class”? Give both the parents and your new student a tour of the facilities: where they need to go to change and where their class will be held.
Introduce them to the coach or instructor
Bring your first-timer along with their parent over to their coach or instructor and introduce them. This will not only give the parents a chance to ask questions but it’ll make class less intimidating for the student when he or she walks into class.
Give them an identifier or create a buddy system
Pair your first-timer with a student or staff member that knows their way around your club and the class. The buddy system ensures your first-timer leaves knowing at least one person. If the buddy system isn’t doable, create a badge or another identifier for your first-timer to wear so everyone knows it their first time and can introduce themselves, give directions and most importantly, make your first-timer feel comfortable.
Follow-up with the student as well as the parents, whether it’s in person after class, on the phone or in an e-mail, ask how the first day went. Find out what their favorite part was and what areas you could improve on. This is a great way to make them feel valued while getting useful feedback about your club.
A great first impression can make all the difference when it comes to expanding your membership. What's important is that you implement procedures and train your staff make every new gymnast that walks into your gym feel included and welcome.