Selecting the right software to run your school is obviously important. CRM and SIS software are vital tools to grow your enrollment numbers, help improve student retention, and ensure all your marketing, teaching, and student services activities are coordinated to make your school as efficient as possible. Ideally, you’ll have software to manage your school that has both CRM and SIS functions so that all your data is in one place. Given that, in this article we’ll look at both aspects.
School Admissions CRM / Enrollment CRM
First, what does a CRM (customer relationship manager) do? At the core, it’s software that a sales team – or in the case of a school an admissions team -uses to manage the entire sales lifecycle. A good CRM helps keep staff on track, makes it easy to communicate and plan, measures results, and makes it easy for an entire team to work together.
School admissions needs an enrollment CRM to convert inquiries into students just like any other business needs a CRM to convert leads into customer. The challenge with finding the right CRM for a school is that 95% of all online CRMs on the market are made for business, not schools.
Why does that matter? Why do you need a CRM that’s purpose-built for schools and not just some generic sales CRM?
Because the enrollment process for career and vocational schools is totally unlike selling a widget. Schools have different enrollment requirements for different programs, and have to follow state and federal regulations. For that reason, schools need an online enrollment CRM that makes sure to guide staff; one that keeps them “in line” with the regulations. For that reasons, you must find software to enroll students that checks all the right boxes, and to do that, it needs to be built specifically for enrolling students.
Thankfully, there are web-based software options schools can use that are made for the enrollment process. Once you narrow those down, you still have questions to need answered. The most important of which is pricing structure.
I like to look at most CRM pricing as the exact scheme drug dealers use: pay for each record. It looks like a great deal in the beginning, but after about a year some schools are spending thousands of dollars just to store graduate records. The moral: don’t fall for pay-per-student record CRMs or SISs (student information systems). Their plan is to “suck you in” and then when all your data is there it’s too difficult to move to a different system, so you’re stuck paying them much, much more money than you originally intended (and good luck getting your data back if you decide to leave).
And be on the look out for the up sell! There are school software systems out there that charge separately for each function. Just like charging by student record or staff user number, that looks good in the beginning, but as soon as you need to bulk email a class or send a bulk text message to a class because the school is closed… your costs go way up. Unless you really enjoy spending more money than you have to, flat fee pricing is the *only* way to go when it comes to selecting a CRM and SIS that’s right for your school.
Best Student Information System For Career Schools
The best software to manage your school will also have a comprehensive student information system – grades, attendance, payments, tests, etc. – so that all your school operations and data are managed on a single platform.
Once again, we have to acknowledge here that just as all businesses are not the same, not all schools are the same. The regulations for K-12 are very different than vocational and career schools, which are very different than universities. One size does not fit all. You want the software you use to manage your school to be designed for the type of school you own. If the software was designed trying to work for all different types of schools, then it’s guaranteed to be confusing, muddled, and not easy to use.
You also want to make sure that the SIS can be customized – not just on the inside, but also how you can get your data back out: can you customize transcripts? Certificates? Excel and PDF exports? If you can… do they charge you more for it? You want the student information system to be able to grow with you, and being able to “tack on” custom files, exports, and modules as you progress is the only way to achieve that. As you consider different CRMs / SISs for your school, make sure to ask questions based NOT just on your current operations, but how you want your operations to be 5 years from now.