6 Ways to Use Text Messaging in Your Private School
One of the ongoing challenges in your school is communication. It’s not easy to keep parents updated all the time! And it’s not always easy for them to update you either. That’s why we’re here - because text messaging can help your private school communicate better with less effort.
I know you’ve got email and phone calls, probably an online portal and an emergency service, too. So you might be asking Why do we need another thing?
I’m going to answer that question, and show you six ways to use text messaging for private schools that will make the lives of your staff and your parents better. Let’s take a look.
How would my private school use text messaging?
Think of your front office handling texts just like they do phone calls. When a parent has a question, it goes to a central place, and the secretary can handle it or get someone else as needed.
Except, instead of using just an “office cell phone,” you'd use an online service like Text Request. Texts come into a shared dashboard where the appropriate person can respond. You can also start text conversations as needed.
In some cases, you might want messages to go to a certain department, like IT or athletics. You can do this by either having everyone share a dashboard, adding multiple phone numbers to your account, or both.
All of this could be done through your existing landline phone numbers, too.
So now that you’ve got an idea of the setup, here are six common situations where text messaging helps your school.
6 Ways for Your Private School to Text
1. New student inquiries.
Parents do a lot of research (and asking around) before deciding where to send their kids. Along the way, they have questions, and it’s often the school that’s most responsive who wins.
There’s an option called SMS Chat. Potential parents browsing your website can simply click a button to send your school a text. They can start this conversation from a computer or cell phone. Texts come into your Text Request dashboard, and your replies go straight to their cell phone.
This is a much better experience for parents, and gives you the opportunity to delight them with a quick and helpful response. For instance, let’s say someone texts in asking about financial assistance:
Hey, do you offer any scholarships or financial aid?
Chances are you have this information on your website - they just didn’t see it! You can send them that link and ask if they need anything else:
Hi [Marianne], we do! All the details are right here ourschool.org/money-matters. What else can I help you with? - Janet @GCA
Smartphones make it easy for Marianne in this example to click on that link and review the information. You’ve been helpful and quick, and now there’s an open line of communication. Plus, it shows how far ahead of other schools you are.
2. Quick parent/student updates.
It’s a hassle for a parent to get or give a quick update via phone call. They wait on hold, can’t get through, leave a voicemail, then call back later to make sure you got the message.
They’d send an email, but they know there’s a slim chance you’ll see and respond to it in time. A text, however, is simple, fast, and effective. It’s also how most people - particularly those under 50 - prefer to communicate.
Let’s say a parent is tied up and needs someone else to pick their child up from school:
Hey folks, Johnny Russell needs to be picked up by Cecilia Stewart, Katie’s mom, today. Thank you! - Karen Russell
Karen can move on with her day. When someone in your office has a moment between tasks, they can confirm they got the message and let Johnny know what’s up.
Or, let’s say there’s supposed to be a soccer game today, but it’s been storming. A parent might want to know:
Is today’s soccer game still on?
And someone in your office can say:
Yes sir! But they are currently expecting a 30 minute delay.
There are all sorts of little communications like this that pop up, and they’re all good opportunities to provide better experiences for your parents.
The SMS Chat option from point 1 still applies. If they don’t have your phone number saved, parents can just go to your website to text you. They can even text you from your Google listing.
With Text Request, parents and students can text your school straight from your Google listing.
3. After hours support.
Your staff and faculty can’t be at school 24/7 (even though it may feel like it sometimes), but a lot goes on outside of 8-5. For instance:
- Children get sick
- Students travel for field trips and sports
- There are evening events to coordinate
- Parents have questions about their bill
- Or someone has trouble with your online portal
Through text, you’ve got options. You can choose to send a text instead of calling a parent, and they have the same choice with you.
You also have the option to text after hours, or to wait until morning to handle those messages. If you do want to manage texts after hours, there are all sorts of notifications you can setup to make sure you never miss a message.
You can also use the Text Request mobile app when you’re out of the office.
Some days this can be good, like on evenings you have events. Other times, you want your staff to go home and relax. In these cases, just set up an autoresponse:
Thanks for your message. We’re out of the office right now, but we’ll get back to you tomorrow after 8am. If there’s an emergency, please call this number.
That message (which you create) will automatically send to anyone who texts you.
4. School-wide updates.
Occasionally you need to send out an alert or notice to every parent and employee - like when the school’s closed for bad weather or you’re about to start a new fundraiser.
You’ll add notices to your website and message board, but you also need a way to let others know who won’t see those notices. If you don’t already have an alert service, you can do this easily with Text Request by sending a group message.
It’s like a BCC email - no one can see who else is in the group, and any replies come directly back to you. You can send your message to all of your contacts, or just to a targeted group (e.g. Football Parents).
For example, let’s say you need volunteers for your annual Fall Festival:
Hi! Our Fall Festival will be Friday Oct. 19 from 4-9pm and we need volunteers to make it awesome. Please reply if you’re able to help. Thank you!
With this, you’ve done two things: reminded everyone when your event is, and persuaded a few people to volunteer. That was easy.
5. Permanent records.
Great records and compliance are important everywhere. With Text Request, every message in or out is permanently recorded. That way you can always look back to see who said what and when. There’s no “he said she said” debate.
This protects your school and employees, and gives teens a safe way to text with school personnel. In the case that a miscommunication goes awry, this can also help you get to the root ASAP.
6. Communication from a central dashboard.
When a parent is trying to contact the school by phone, the first person they talk to (if they reach anyone) is often not the person they’re trying to reach. Messages are taken, passed around, and eventually the right people connect (maybe).
Text Request smooths out this process. Multiple users can login to a shared dashboard from any device. So instead of passing messages throughout the office, each person can either turn on notifications or check in from time to time to see if anyone needs them.
This way, parents can just text one number (probably your school’s main phone number), and anyone from the office secretary to the principal to the IT director to one of your coaches can jump on to answer questions.
If you want, you can also add multiple phone numbers under your account (such as for different departments), which could all be viewed under the same dashboard.
How can our school start texting?
It’s easy to start. Select a plan from our Pricing page, decide which phone number you want to text with, and upload any contacts you already have.
As soon as you sign up, someone from our support team will reach out offering help and guidance. Just contact us if you have any questions!