We all know that trust is a key pillar to building any brand, but it’s also a topic that continues to stump even some of the biggest brands around the world. From vehicle emissions to consumer goods or financial products, there seems to be an unending struggle and understanding of building and maintaining trust. 

For many of us, trust is most powerful when it's felt and lived, rather than thought of as just an intellectual notion. This rings true of any relationship, whether between two people or between a person and an organisation.

Schools are certainly not immune to the issue of establishing trust. In fact, the stakes are often higher! Schools like yours are continuously building long-term relationships, making it all the more important to establish trust with your community now and in the future.

How trust is built through transparency

If you ask us, one of the easiest ways to build trust is through transparency. Hiding from or deflecting sensitive issues (intentional or not) is never a good idea and can completely erode trust. It’ll come as no surprise that one of these tricky issues is navigating transparency around school fees

We know that many schools can be hesitant to reveal too much information about fees, worrying that total costs might appear overwhelming or too expensive. But, keeping them hidden isn’t always the best move. Prospective parents will only end up disappointed when they eventually see the total cost rather than having all of the information upfront.

There’s no doubt that this is a tricky part of the conversation for schools, but it doesn't have to be this way. It’s always best to look at the issue through a frame of empathy: placing yourself in your prospective parents’ shoes to understand how they might think, feel, and act.

No matter what fees your school charges or how fees are structured, as a parent, you want to know what you are paying for. Parents would trust your school more if they could see where their money was going and how the school fees were structured. 

Put simply; the more transparent the fees, the more parents will trust your school. Being clear and upfront about school fees and providing an engaging experience for parents to explore fees builds immediate trust. 

“The more transparent the fees, the more parents will trust the school.”

In doing so, you’re able to show that your school has nothing to hide and are therefore likely to deliver on promises. In short, transparency makes parents feel more valued, encourages them to be more engaged, and will therefore be more motivated to partner with your school.

Fee transparency in practice

While most schools generally tend to be conservative when it comes to fee transparency, we’re seeing some big changes in the sector as more schools seek to deliver better customer experiences.

Here are just a few ways we see evolution:

1. Schools are simplifying fee structures

Many schools are reducing the extra costs on top of tuition, opting to move toward a more ‘all-inclusive’ fee structure. This provides obvious benefits to parents as they can more easily understand the fees. However, it’s difficult for schools to include absolutely everything, so it's still important to be transparent about what’s not included.

2. Schools are adopting smart technology

Digital engagement is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s an essential ingredient to building a strong brand. This is why schools aren’t relying on traditional methods to present fees anymore (like a PDF fee schedule) but rather embracing technology to deliver richer and more meaningful experiences to parents. School fees are a crucial element to the brand experience, so it makes sense to include them in your ed-tech toolkit.

 

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“Digital engagement is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s an essential ingredient to building a brand.”

3. Schools are making fees easy to find

No digging required. Fee information is becoming more central and easy to find on school websites or dedicated landing pages, including digital tools like a school fee calculator. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this page is often one of the most-visited pages on a school website, highlighting just how important this information is for parents. 

FeesOur friends at Green Point Christian College provide a great example of creating better fee experiences by simplifying their fee structure, embracing helpful technology like the Feesable Fee Calculator, creating a dedicated fee page on their website, and placing a clear call to action on the homepage to boost transparency. 

“We’ve streamlined our fee structure in recent years by including as many charges as possible in a single all-inclusive fee. The Fee Calculator provides an excellent way for families to quickly and easily find out fee information, and is also a great budget tool for planning for future years.”

 Michael Lowbridge, Business Manager at Green Point Christian College

 

Macquarie College is also one of the many schools leaning into new technology to improve their fee experience with a dedicated fees page and Feesable Fee Calculator to deliver the fee information in a clear and meaningful manner.

“Fee transparency is an important factor when communicating with current and prospective families. Our fees are structured as an all-in-one package, and families have the ability to easily calculate an estimate of current and future fee commitments by using the Feesable Fee Calculator. Prospective family contact details are obtained during the online process, providing another tool to generate enrolment leads for the school”

Stephen Andrews, Business Manager Macquarie College

How does your fee experience stack up?

So, how transparent is your school when it comes to fees? Try to take your ‘school management’ hat off for a moment and place yourself in the shoes of a prospective parent. Think about the experience they might have when engaging with your school and searching for information about your fees.

Transparency is a great way to build trust, and trust is essential to building your school brand. We encourage you to establish trust with prospective parents early on as it could make all the difference when it comes to the final enrolment decision. Don’t forget, trust and transparency aren’t just for prospective parents, but your current parents too. Creating great customer experiences will boost retention and turn the existing community into brand advocates for your school.

Where to from here?

While reading this article, you might have realised that your school might have the opportunity to take bigger steps toward transparency and better customer experiences. If this is the case, we recommend looking into new technologies, like the Feesable Fee Calculator and enhancing your existing customer journey with a dedicated school CRM solution.

After all, trust and transparency are the first steps in your school’s overall enrolment process and are important foundations for nurturing families from awareness to admission.

Published 7 February 2022