How to Keep Students Coming Back and Rebooking

February 19, 2024
Ann Smiley


The best way to build a healthy Metafy is to cultivate a roster of students who return regularly for ongoing lessons. Having regular students is not only the best thing you can do for your business, it’s also the best thing for students who want to improve. Regular feedback from a coach is a scientifically-proven strategy for improving students’ skill level (more on that in Turning Students into Experts).

Converting one-off students into regular customers may not be something that comes naturally to everyone, so we spoke to some of our top coaches and asked them which practices help them retain students. Here’s what they told us:

Work on Your Mindset

It is helpful to keep ongoing sessions in mind during all your interactions with your current and prospective students. Think of each lesson as a link in an ongoing chain, rather than as a one-and-done. Remember, all of your one-off students have the potential to become regular customers if you’re focused and proactive in encouraging them to schedule their next lesson.

Offer Multi-lesson Plans

Build training plans, which incorporate a group of lessons structured to follow a specific learning arc, and encourage your students to sign up for them. Following a structured course timeline with specific objectives for each step is an effective teaching tool, and establishes a schedule of ongoing lessons that will get your students in the habit of returning on a regular basis. Optimally, you should offer a variety of plans geared toward varying skill levels and budgets, and present them in a way that clearly outlines their advantages.

Plant the Seed

One thing you can do before you even have your first lesson with a new student is to contact them and ask them whether they want to set up a weekly time slot. Tell them that most students opt for ongoing lessons, with training plans being a popular option. No matter what answer they give you, asking this question will plant the seed in their mind that long-term ongoing lessons are an option.

Get to Know Your Students

Focusing on your relationship with your students is essential for a number of reasons. From a business standpoint, students who feel that their coach cares about them and understands their needs and play style are more likely to return for ongoing lessons. From a learning standpoint, students who feel comfortable with their coaches are generally more receptive to feedback and more likely to retain it and put it into practice. And students who learn more are more likely to return.

Of course, there will always be students who don’t want to waste any time on social pleasantries, so it is important to discover what works best for each student. But even just getting a feel for your student’s personality will require you to do a bit of relationship-building at the start. Some specific tips we received from our coaches were:

  • Talk to your students about their lives and remember what they tell you. Even recalling minor details, such as a pet’s name, can help ensure your students feel heard and valued.
  • Consider adding your students as friends/following them on the social media sites you have in common. Students have reported that one small gesture being really meaningful to them, even if you never interact on those sites.
  • If you need to reschedule, do so early and give your student a reasonable explanation. Being shuffled around without explanation — or worse, being ghosted — can be devastating for the student/coach relationship.
  • Make it a goal to touch base with your students once a week, either via a scheduled lesson or just by messaging them through chat. If they’re not showing up on your calendar, then checking in with them will give you an opening to bring up the subject of having another session together.

Be Positive with Your Feedback

As you’re interacting with your student, either in a live session or through VOD review comments, be positive. This doesn’t mean being artificially nice or fawning over a student’s play, good or bad. It means pointing out good decisions, when they happen, and taking a constructive approach to remedying bad ones. Challenge yourself to find a positive framing for addressing students’ mistakes. For example:

  • Help them to figure out why they’re making that decision, and why a different one is preferable.
  • Ask them what other options they considered. Perhaps they were closer to making the right choice than they realize.
  • Acknowledge that it’s a common mistake (if it is), and explain why.
  • Look for a way the decision they made this time is an improvement over past choices, even if it’s still not optimal.

Using a building/reinforcing approach with students will strengthen your relationships with them, help them to improve, and keep them feeling encouraged about their gaming. All three of those factors will motivate them to return for ongoing lessons. And with some students, the student/coach relationship is the absolute top priority. Even if their gameplay improves after working with you, if they come away from the experience feeling like you were overly critical or harsh, they will seek out a new coach. Or they’ll quit entirely.

Remember, although gaming may be the way you make your living, for your students it will likely be a hobby. If they don’t feel good about it, there’s very little motivation to stick with it.

Set Goals for Next Time

As you summarize your session, bring up your goals for their next booking. You can use the goals they listed for the current lesson on their booking request as a starting point, and make sure to modify them based on how the lesson went. By talking about what you want to do next time, you are indirectly encouraging them to schedule a follow-up without having to straight-up ask them to do so.

If they agree that those would be good things to focus on for the next lesson, then you can talk about your availability. Mentioning specific dates and times will get your student thinking in a concrete way about booking. Ideally, your student will schedule their next lesson before the current one ends.

For more on session summaries, check out The Case for Session Summaries.

Assign Homework

By the same token, you should be assigning tasks for students to complete on their own. A clearcut to-do list makes it possible for students to engage in deliberate practice, the most reliable way to improve their performance. As a coach you need to guide them through an extended process of iterative improvement, which requires that they have lessons with you regularly. For example:

  • Play at least X matches and really focus on prioritizing Y, avoiding Z, etc.
  • Play at least X matches and try using a different build/strategy Y to expand your repertoire.
  • Play at least X ranked matches and try not to be so anxious about making mistakes (or have a more positive outlook while playing)
  • Watch at least X replays of matches by top player Y. Focus on how they correctly do Z.

It is also important to assign really specific individualized tasks. These need to be tailored for the player’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals. For example, if you were coaching a student on how to play a specific Magic: the Gathering deck, you might tell them:

  • Focus on keeping track of any cards revealed from your opponent’s hand, removing cards as they are played, so that you know what options they have available. This should help you avoid easy mistakes where you play a card into its counter.
  • Practice mulliganing more aggressively, searching for at least one of the key combo pieces (or tutors for them). Be willing to go down to 4–5 cards if necessary and see how this impacts your win rates.
  • Practice using the priorities we talked about this session. In this matchup, you need to save your limited number of removal cards for the top priority cards instead of wasting them on lower priority bait.

Offer Discounts

Metafy gives you the ability to offer discounts to students in multiple ways. These discounts help encourage students to commit to taking regular lessons with you from the start.

  1. You can generate promo codes that will grant users discounts, either in percentages or flat dollar amounts, that they can use when booking.
  2. You can offer discounts to students who buy lessons in bulk, when you add lessons.
  3. When you offer training plans made up of multiple lessons, offer a reduced price compared to purchasing those lessons individually.
  4. You can give your Twitch subscribers an ongoing discount (provided both you and the follower have connected Twitch to Metafy via the Connected Accounts menu).

Follow up and Follow Through

It is generally a good idea to keep track of your students. If you find that a few weeks have passed without hearing from a student, reach out and see whether they’re ready for another lesson. You can use your Pro dashboard and chat history to keep track of how recently you’ve been in touch with your students, and to refresh your memory on their goals and concerns. Ask them things like:

  • How are you doing on [a specific goal you worked on together]?
  • How’d you do on your homework?
  • How do you like the latest update to the game?
  • Did you catch [the latest tournament]? What did you think of [player]’s strategy?

Be specific, and help them to remember why they booked with you in the first place. Even just a friendly greeting will help build your coach/student relationship and serve as a reminder that you’re there to help them improve as a gamer.

Don’t Neglect Your Own Growth

Our coaches have told us that being a high-profile, excellent player will naturally attract students. Not only do players want to learn from the best, they want to hang out with the best. Beyond that, continuing to grow as a gamer and continuing to set new goals for yourself also makes you a great role model for making an ongoing commitment to improve. So as you interact with students and potential students — whether it’s through lessons, streaming, or social media — mention the goals you’re currently focusing on for yourself. It’ll inspire others to set some goals of their own that you can help them achieve.

And, of course, never underestimate the value of being a great coach.

80% of my students want to come back, because I do a good job. People straight-up say they want to re-book, at the end of a session.


The Bottom Line

It’s tempting to rest on your laurels and let your reputation do all the work toward building your Metafy — and to a certain extent, that might work. But remember, working with a committed core group of returning students is ultimately much easier than coaching a rotating roster of new faces. And all it takes is a subtle mindset shift and a few small tweaks to your coaching process to make that happen.

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