Retaining new members who join is as important as attracting them to come to an open house. As a new person, you want to know that you’ve joined a competent, friendly, welcoming group. You also want to know where to turn when you have questions.
After the open house - email contact
- Either the night of or the morning after your open house, thank people for coming via email. In your email, welcome them as a new member of your corps family.
- Give clear next steps. When you are new, it is uncomfortable when you don’t know what is going on.
- What do families do next if they want to join? How do they get their starter fife, drum sticks, or practice pad? Do you, as a corps, have these items? Do they need to get them on their own? How much do they cost?
- When should they come for their first rehearsal? If your open house started at a different time than your normal rehearsal, make sure that you are clear about times.
- Who will teach their child?
- If you charge them, how do they pay dues? To whom do they give the dues? When do they pay dues?
Once new members start coming, make them feel special and wanted. This sounds really silly to say, but they are new. Go out of your way to greet them. Send out an email to your current corps members to remind everyone, parents and kids, that you need to be friendly to the new folks.
Appoint a new member parent contact, ideally someone who has been with your group for a long time. In your welcome email, introduce the new families to that person. Additionally, appoint an older buddy for each new corps member. That’s good for both children, younger and older.
New people will have lots of questions. Some of the most typical have to do with events and uniforms. When are the new kids eligible to march in their first event? What’s the procedure for getting uniforms? Let everyone know what events are happening, even if the new members aren’t eligible to participate in them. Not knowing what’s happening is very off-putting for anyone, especially a new person. It is fine that a child hasn’t earned the right to march, have a uniform, or have an instrument. But in all cases, he/she should know what’s happening with the corps and how to go about earning the right to be a full-fledged member.
Finally, make families in your corps your friends, not your enemies. Often, there is a tension between the directors/administration and the families. This doesn’t need to be the case. I’ve heard many people remark that parents should be kept at arm’s length. I don’t agree. In my opinion, families are our corps’s greatest strength. Make them your partners. The more invested they are, the more likely the kids are to stay with your corps.
Along those lines, find jobs for your parents/families. There are so many aspects to running a corps and everyone needs help. If you rely on your parents, not only will you lighten your load, you’ll keep your families with your group! Perhaps you may even get your parents to learn the fife or drum. That’s a win for everyone!