Turn Summer Into Your Most Profitable Season
Many music schools experience some level of student dropouts during the summer months. Offering a camp is a great way to offset this loss in revenue and turn summer into your most profitable season. My music school’s camp was a significant part of our culture. I could lose anywhere from 50 to 60% of my business during the summer. Camp is not only a great way to offset losses; it also becomes a fantastic recruiting tool for fall enrollment.
As my summer camp grew, it transformed summer into my most profitable season. Granted, the days were long with camp running from 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and then school activities starting just 30 minutes later, running until 9:00 pm. It was a lot of work, but it certainly proved to be worth it. And as my camp program expanded from year to year, I began offering more sessions, a combination of one- and two-week sessions.
Generate More Revenue
I reached a point where I essentially managed my first summer camp. The moment schools let out, I’d run them until the very last school session resumed. So sometimes it was maybe the second or third week of May when I started running summer camp, and I’d continue until the second or third week of August. Typically, what I found worked best in my market was running two-week camps in June and July, and then one-week camps in May and August.
If the 4th of July fell in the middle of the week, I would still run a two-week camp during that period, but I would discount the camp for the day that we were closed. I generated around $45,000 to $50,000 a year in revenue with summer camp. I actually spoke with a music school owner who earns close to a hundred thousand in summer camp.
The key with summer camp is persistence. You have to play the long game. My first year of summer camp was pretty small, but every year I kept building on it. Even in those early years, I would run a winter break camp and a spring break camp, just so my students in the school or the camp, in general, were part of the culture in my music school. I would even run one-day camps. If there was a parent-teacher conference and the district was closed, maybe on a Friday, I’d run a camp that day. I did get to a point where I stopped doing these winter-spring break camps, but it was a really great way to get the word out in the community that I was offering appealing camp programs.
Summer Camp with Andy Brown
My guest today is Andy Brown. He is the founder and director of Camp Manitowa, just outside of St. Louis in Southern Illinois. He is the king of summer camp. He was a very active camper and then a staff member. About 15 years ago, he built his own sleepaway camp from scratch. It’s a successful camp program that many of my students attend.
In my discussion with Andy, we delve into what the key ingredients are to make a successful camp program. Sleepaway camp takes camping to a whole other level, since kids are living with each other around the clock, but a day camp can still incorporate many of the concepts and teachings that we can learn from a sleepaway summer camp. What’s so great about talking to a camp director of a sleepaway camp is that they live and breathe camp year-round.
They may get a month off in September, but come October, their marketing engines are revving up. And the one question that they have on their minds is: How can I make this camp experience better and more attractive for both kids and parents?
Camp Programs You Can Avail Now
But before I cue up my conversation with Andy, I do want to mention that the camp programs that I developed in my music school are now available for licensing. I have one camp program for ages four to seven, which is designed to run as a one-week camp.
My Kidzrock program is the main activity in the camp, but this camp incorporates all the different programming that I was doing in my camp. It includes every marketing resource that you would need to market your camp. It’s really designed so that you can incorporate and launch a camp program without having to invent something from scratch, allowing you to remain focused on growing your music school during your winter and spring sessions. I also offer another camp for ages seven to 13.
There’s a one-week camp version and a two-week camp version, both built on my Piano Jam program. So if you don’t have the time to design a camp program from scratch, or if you’ve tried camp in the past and it hasn’t really worked out the way you hoped, it might make more sense to license one of my camp programs, implement the marketing plan, and adopt the camp structure. This would allow you to avoid getting too distracted by incorporating a whole new program and maintain the important macro perspective needed to run your music school.