The following list is not going to be exhaustive, please add you own concepts that I forgot or neglected.
1. Marketing Genius
Before anything else goes, how you market yourself is going to be the single biggest influence on your success. Ultimately, teaching English is teaching English. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how many qualifications you got, or even the experience in teaching you have acquired. First and foremost, know how to sell the idea of teaching that mothers are looking for. It isn’t as easy as it sounds.
2. Develop a full package
To retain students, you are going to need some level of substance in your offer.
a. Curriculum; you need to get stuff into parents hands so they can see some results. Probably why a lot of sham schools are successful is because they are effective in keeping up the appearance. I neglect most of this. :)
b. Results: Blow your results into the biggest possible proportion. If one little kid wins even a class competition somewhat related to English. Make sure everyone knows you made it happen. Let’s forget the efforts and sacrifices of the kids. I neglect this. The only ones touting around should be the kids who made it happen by sitting in a boring classroom and going through the hard work to make a difference.
c. Homework: Make sure you do not loosen your grip on the kids even at home. Mothers will love you if you can pile up tons of homework on top of their daily schedule of sitting in your classroom. Let’s forget the basic principles of Decreasing Marginal Utility and long term negative effects of lack of sleep. This is a mentality I have yet to defeat.
d. Teachers: Blond and blue eyes are the most effective teaching tools available. When the children are mesmerized by the perfect cut, there is no other way than to be instilled by his flawless English. I am blond and I have green eyes, so I know how effective they are.
e. Internet: Apart from all the paperwork they take at home, let’s not forget the online component that allows parents to micromanage their kids even more effectively. Keep those grey cells working, the prodigy has to show itself one day.
f. Reporting : Make sure the parents are informed at the click of a button or the flick of a wrist on how their kids are stellar in their performance. Sow no doubts about your effectiveness, but do keep parents afraid of the future. If their children do not achieve A,B and C by X time, they will miss out on the gravy-train!
Try to join as many community services as you can to bolster your image. Try not to spend any energy or money actually helping people, that will take it away from running your business effectively. The more people see you, the more people want to be you. They just have to go to your school. Don’t forget to talk to other small businesses like yours, but not quite the same, to see if you can barter students with each other.
I actually wanted to make this post a bit more serious, but it got out of hand. What I am trying to say is; When image is the effective tool in being successful as a school, and parents do not take the mental/physical health of their kids to heart, all they are doing is paying for an empty box, not only in cash, but also with the future of their kids.