Trusted Advisor

When a family chooses your school, they are labeling your school “preferred service provider”.  They may have chosen your school because of convenience (close to their home), economic reasons (scholarships, lower tuition fees, etc.), or substantive reasons (your reputation as the best).  Your future and the student’s future depend on becoming one of the family’s trusted advisors.

You want your services to earn your school the label of “trusted advisor”.  A trusted advisor provides advice, coaching, and guidance specifically tailored to one’s needs in addition to the services one expects.  If your school is only a preferred service provider, there is always a chance that someone else will become the top choice.  However, if the family’s experience tells them that you have trustworthy advice (based upon whatever criteria are important to the family), they are unlikely to seek help elsewhere.

If someone wants advice, they can Google it.  If they want advice they can trust, they must go to a source they trust.  While providing services, your team has the opportunity to truly know each student and family and build their trust.  When you use what you know to advise the family, you have the opportunity to provide services and advice that are difficult to beat.  Your good advice adds significant value to the relationship and the student’s outcomes.

Becoming a family’s trusted advisor creates a competitive advantage.  It is also an advantage that is difficult for others to overcome.  It creates a durable relationship with the student and family.

Families seldom walk away from high-value relationships.  Your school probably has a few students and families who have proactively sustained relationships with your school even though the students have graduated.  Increasing the value of your school’s advice will increase the number of students and families who sustain their relationships with your school.

Since the advice is customized for each student, it has a higher value than advice from any other source.  The value of the advice and the potential to receive valuable advice in the future creates a willingness to sustain the relationship.

Retaining the relationship after services end enhances your school’s opportunity to track long-term outcomes.  The quality of every school’s long-term outcomes are becoming more important to donors, foundations, and other funding sources.  They are also becoming important in the selection process used by many families.

When families see your school as a trusted advisor, it increases the perception of the relevance of your mission.  Your school’s sustainability depends in part on your community’s perception of your mission’s relevance.  With a growing sense of relevance comes an increase in community support.  Highly relevant parochial schools also find it easier to retain donors and increase donor generosity.

Next Steps

Use what you know about your students to provide your families with advice

Customize the advice you give your families to fit their individual student’s needs

Become the trusted advisor of each of your families

Use the durability of your school’s relationship with its students and families as a success measure for your advice

It is unnecessary for your good advice to be directly related to the services being provided.  For example, high-value advice might be helping parents with discipline, motivation, or character-development ideas.  What is collateral knowledge for your staff may be strategic knowledge for your students or the family members of your students.

Creating a sustainable relationship with your student’s support system can be as valuable to your students and your school as a sustainable relationship with your students.  In either case, you have the opportunity to collect the information about long-term outcomes that will drive program development, donor loyalty, and community support as well as justify tuition increases.

The knowledge you give away makes your school valuable.

Take It Further:

Become your donors’ trusted advisor

Use your staff’s knowledge to position your school as one of your community’s trusted advisors and most valuable assets


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