The Intake Process

Success is easier when you have the right starting point. Does your client intake process give you the right starting point for success?

At an annual retreat recently, one of our clients started with the question:

Who should we serve?

The attendees came up with a list of 15 attributes to describe the client. When the attributes were placed in a priority sequence it created a valuable profile of the person who needs their services.

The profiled client is different from the one they are currently serving. Their current client is more accurate represented by the phrase "someone interested in their services". Of course, that is a very important attribute. You will only be successful if your client is willing to work with you. So "being willing" must be the first check mark on the intake form but not the only criteria. After "being willing" they have 15 other criteria.

This process will allow them to specialize on a specific group. The specialization will create a uniqueness that will help with attracting diversity, volunteers, and the right staff.

It will make the process of serving the clients more difficult. They have selected a very challenging segment of society to serve. However, the narrowness of the group means they can focus all of their energy on the specialization and eliminate the need for a broad range of services.

Now they are in the process of assessing the current clients to determine how many fit the new profile. The following step will be to develop a process that tightens the entry requirements over the next several years to ensure they are serving the appropriate people.

As they transition to the new profile, they will be gradually building strength and depth of services. They will avoid losing any current client and the potential income from serving those clients.

For most parochial schools, now is the time to be recruiting new students. Do you have a profile for the student you are best able to serve?

Some of the Christian schools we are aware of are very interested in gathering as many new students as possible. They are less concerned with how well the student fits the profile of their most successful students. As a result, their success with a particular student is hard to predict, parents are often less pleased than they could be, and balanced are unsure about the value of the school.

In one school, only about 55% of the students were creating a positive reputation for the school. More than 85% of the students were outperforming their public school counterparts in academics. However, in the areas that distinguished the school from the surrounding public schools (character development, faith formation, etc.), success was less impressive. It is the non-academic areas, which justify the tuition and build a private school's reputation.

Harvard is expensive. Many schools use the same textbooks as Harvard, so the knowledge one learns there is also available at other less expensive schools. The tuition at Harvard is justified by what the graduate does with their life after Harvard. The ones who achieve the most receive the most value from their Harvard education (tuition) and do the most to build Harvard's reputation.

The goal of a parochial education is seldom to go on to Harvard and add to Harvard's reputation. Many Christian schools turn around troubled teens, give a child confidence and self-esteem, provide a safe learning and development environment, or do something else noble. However, if 80% of the students come from stable and healthy families only 20% have the potential to build your reputation. A 20% success rate (if you can be 100% successful) is unlikely to build the reputation necessary to attract significant donor support or increase enrollment.

Next Step:

  • Develop an intake process that will confirm that your prospective students fit the profile
  • Develop a transition plan that changes the population of those you serve to be dominated by those you want to serve
  • Develop a donor cultivation plan that will ensure that growth in donor support parallels the change in student population
  • Develop a student tracking system that will document your success when serving the targeted population

Sustainability comes from providing superior service. The reputation for superior services requires the majority of the clients be in the group that needs your services the most.

How soon will the majority of your students be having the success that creates the reputation of your organization aspires to have?

Source by Don Currie

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