2.4 All about Retention

Although mentioned earlier, attrition needs to be revisited when talking about athlete retention because of its direct cause and effect.  Simply put, attrition rates increase when a PSS does not make a concerted effort to retain its athletes in the program.


Why Athlete Retention is Critical

It is always easier and more cost-effective to retain existing athletes than to acquire new ones.  It is also more successful in the long-term.  Satisfied athletes stay longer with your school, pay less attention to the competition, and are less price sensitive than unsatisfied athletes.  This drives home the importance of keeping your athletes – and not simply finding new ones to take their place.


As previously pointed out, there are two main factors that cause a PSS to not retain its athletes.  


  • The training sessions being delivered are not motivating, inspiring, engaging, or do not produce results.  
  • The Program Director and Performance Coaches are not focused on building parent rapport during the process to ensure parents are “raving fans” of their PSS.


We will deal with the first issue of training sessions during a later lesson in this series.  This leaves us to address parent rapport.

Maintaining a Strong Parent Rapport Program

For many years, Parisi has been an advocate of Program Directors establishing a parent rapport program in their PSS.  This program involves the following types of communications:

  • Informal discussions with parents before or after sessions
  • Formal discussions (including a review of the athlete’s progress) at least every other month
  • Fan mail to the athlete (sent in care of the parent) on the off month where a formal discussion is not taking place


In most franchises, the Program Director is responsible for setting up and monitoring the program, but the Performance Coaches assist in making calls and writing the fan mail.  Usually, each Performance Coach and the Program Director is assigned specific athletes and parents for the purposes of staying in touch.  Remember – ALL parent interactions should be documented in the software system!


Now let’s be very honest and candid here.  Performance Coaches are only going to make their assigned parent calls and write fan-mail if you stay on top of the matter and pass out some negative consequences if they don’t follow through.  Therefore, the success of your parent rapport program depends on your ability to lead and manage the program.  


This might not be a positive aspect of your job, but consider this fact.   For every athlete your PSS loses, a new one has to be added to your monthly sales goals to just maintain current sales levels.  That means you have to work harder at getting new athletes into the program, rather than simply retaining the ones you already have.  Based on this trade off, the parent rapport program might not seem so bad in comparison.  Plus, who does not want to hear the great things that a lot of our parents tell you about their kid and your PSS?

Use the Parisi Nation Challenge as a Retention Tool

Another retention tool that we have in our bag is the Parisi Nation Challenge (PNC).  In case you don’t know what the PNC is all about, this is an open event held monthly to evaluate an athlete’s current ability in several different areas.  The evaluation is not as elaborate as the evaluation completed during the sales process but is a good indicator of current capability.


The beauty of the PNC is that it is a retention tool, marketing effort (ideally held on a quarterly basis), and open house all rolled into one!  The cost of hosting a PNC is minimal and the more exciting and interesting you make the challenge, the more your attendance grows.


We will deal with the PNC as a marketing tool in the marketing lesson of this series.  Right now, we want to focus on using the PNC as a retention tool for current athletes.


Everybody – adults and children – wants the sense of accomplishment that comes from success!  Knowing that hard work pays off motivates athletes to continue – and in some cases, to even work even harder.  This is the whole premise behind the PNC as a retention tool.


By participating in the PNC each time the event is held, athletes can track and monitor their progress over time.  If the progress is positive, it is an opportunity to remind both athletes and parents what a great influence the Parisi training program has had on their success.  If the progress is minimal, it is an opportunity to have a discussion about decreased involvement, lack of engagement, etc. and create a plan to bring them back into the fold.  Either conversation is a big way to solidify their commitment in continuing on with the Parisi program.


It is important to ensure your PSS is holding a PNC at least every other month.  The success of the PNC depends on the efforts you put into it.   The more upbeat, exciting, and fun you make the PNC, the more fun your athletes will have.  It will keep them coming back again and again.  It will also ensure they invite their friends to come, which produce more inquiries for you!  The return on your time by hosting a monthly PNC is well worth the effort.

Ongoing Assessments During Sessions

One effective way to monitor an athlete’s progression is to use class time to test on one event each week. It doesn’t take much time and athletes will become used to the process of being evaluated consistently. For example, one week athletes are tested in their 40 yard speed during the linear speed classes, the next week maybe they are tested on the 5-10-5 during the multidirectional speed class. Parents will value seeing these scores as their child moves thru the program.


Rely on Post-Evaluations

Another important retention tool is the post-evaluation.  This is the same evaluation that is completed as part of the sales process.  Conducting a post-evaluation one month to several weeks prior to an athlete’s contract expires is critical to retaining the athlete in your program because it shows the amount of progress (or lack thereof) from the effort


Along the same lines as the PNC, athletes need to see value since beginning with Parisi – or become motivated to reengage from the negative results.  The post-evaluation allows this important opportunity!  


Value is just as important for parents too!  All parents look at monthly expenditures occasionally and ask, “Is this worth the x amount of dollars I spend for it?”  If the answer is yes, the expense is most likely allowed to continue on.  If the answer is no, the cost outweighs the value and parents are likely to cut the expense.  Therefore, parents need to see value too!  It is critical that you and your team provide this important opportunity to show both athletes and their parents the value of your program.