By using the economic and marketing concept of a loss leader, WMU could choose to waive the admission application fee of $35 at on-campus open house events.
What is a loss leader?
A loss leader is a “good or service advertised and sold at below cost price. Its purpose is to bring in (lead) customers in the retail store (usually a supermarket) on the assumption that, once inside the store, the customers will be stimulated to buy full priced items as well” (BusinessDictionary.com, 2007).
What are the implications of waiving the application fee for prospective WMU students at open house events?
In the case of prospective students seeking a degree from a four-year institution, removing any potential barrier to the student for completing an application to our institution while they are on-site at an open house is a critical step in their choosing to attend WMU. We want to avoid having the student and their family take the paper work home in order to “think about it” or “send payment in later”. Having them say yes to WMU, and feel great about it at the open house event will increase our chances that they attend WMU. The $35 loss on the application fee will yield a return of more than $57,208 in tuition for four-years with an in-state student and $95,392 in tuition for four-years with an non-resident student (Western Michigan University, 2007).
Why waiving the fee is important
Students who choose to visit WMU at an open house are demonstrating more interest in our institution than the casual visitors who e-mail questions, call us, or browse our Web site. Because of the additional interest they are demonstrating, there is a higher chance that interacting with them in a positive way at the open house will result in a sales conversion (i.e. application, admission, enrollment).
Suppose 1,000 students applied at our WMU fall open house programs. Waiving the $35 application fee results in a “loss” of $35,000. Yet, if waiving the application fee made the difference in the decision of one student to attend WMU, then waiving the fee for all open house attendees will have more than paid for itself when that student pays four-years worth of tuition.
Cross promotions at our open houses
In addition to waiving the application fee, a cross promotion could be offered where prospective students and families are presented with coupons for 25-50% off an item at the apparel and book stores located in the Bernhard Center. This second loss leader encourages prospective students and families to buy-in further to the WMU community. Having mom and dad pick up a sweatshirt, pennant, or football with an WMU logo is another critical step needed for building connection between the prospective student, their parents, and our university.
Western Michigan University. (2007). Tuition & Fees Fall 2007. Western Michigan University. Retrieved September 24, 2007, from http://www.wmich.edu/registrar/tuition/