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Transparency and More of It!Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

This past week I had coffee with a friend of mine who started a small business just under a year ago. One of the topics we spent a ton of time discussing was transparency…namely how important it is when trying to build customer loyalty.

I would argue that transparency matters now more than ever in the world of college admissions. The competition for students remains fierce, and the value of a college degree is constantly being questioned.

Way too many schools continue to speak in vague terms or worse they complicate or embellish things like cost and the overall student experience on their campus. That’s not me telling you that. Your prospects and their parents tell us that improved transparency is one of the big things that colleges need to improve as they try to get and keep their attention.

In fact, here are a few student quotes from recent focus group surveys we’ve done that touch on common complaints:

“I think they shouldn’t try to fluff everything up so to speak. Just be honest and real with future students. When all you hear is good you don’t know an honest opinion unless you know someone who goes to this university. I would say just to be very real with incoming students about what <School Name> has to offer, and what it could improve.”

“Just be honest with us. We know everything isn’t perfect and you can tell us if you don’t know the answer to something.”

“There needs to be more communication and transparency about financial aid. It’s a really confusing process with all the paperwork and forms.”

Instead of being scared by transparency, I want you to be willing to embrace it as a way to improve your college’s customer service. Plus, improved transparency is a way for you to differentiate your school from your competitors.

Here are some ideas I want you to consider:

  • Encourage prospects and parents to provide you with feedback. If you want them to feel comfortable enough to express their thoughts and concerns, you need to create rapport and provide a range of regular opportunities for them to bring up a tough or sensitive topic. Tell them early on that if they come across or experience something negative or concerning about your college, you want them to share that with you because doing so will allow you to better serve and help them moving forward.
  • Explain the WHY. Not enough attention is given to context and why it’s beneficial for the other person. Throughout the college search process colleges ask students and parents to take action on a multitude of things. What I’ve found is that oftentimes they want to understand the WHY or the “because.” Why should they visit your campus? Why should they apply right now? Why is it in their best interest to fill out the FAFSA now instead of waiting until January or February? Take the time to clearly explain why you’re asking them to do whatever it is and how it will benefit them or make their life easier.
  • Give them inside access. This is a strategy that I recommend all the time to our clients as a way to help develop trust while also demonstrating transparency. Give prospective students inside access to something or some process that you know they’re wondering about. For example, during the campus visit or high school visit, replace your information session or your usual speech with an inside look at how your campus helps new students make both the academic and social transitions to college less stressful.
  • Student run social media accounts. We’re living in a time where it’s never been easier to give prospective students a peek into what makes your college unique. As I continue to conduct focus group surveys on campuses across the country, it remains clear that students view a lot of the social media content from colleges as “forced and fake” instead of “real student life.” Your prospects want to see day in the life stuff from the vantage point of your current students and not the admissions or marketing office. Specifically they want to see pictures and videos of school events, residence life, popular hangout spots on and off campus, and actual classroom discussions or work. If you’re not willing to create student run accounts (which is what they want), I strongly encourage you to at least provide more student-generated content. Connect them with the faces behind the actual posts.
  • Don’t hide your mistakes or your negatives. Mistakes are going to happen. It’s a fact of life for everybody. When they do, don’t avoid talking about them. The same thing goes for your college’s “negatives.” Again, we live in an age where it’s extremely tough to avoid the spotlight. I want you to be the person that explains a mistake or redefines a negative for your prospects and their parents. The sooner you do that, the sooner you can move on and keep things moving forward. Also, show confidence in the way you explain it to them so that they see you aren’t worried about it.
  • Stop using admissions jargon. You cannot expect prospects and parents who haven’t gone through the college admissions process before to be aware of the technical terms in your industry. What do “highly selective” and “holistic” really mean? How about terms like articulation, early action/decision, grant aid and need-blind? Furthermore, acronyms like FAFSA, EFC and COA also shouldn’t be used without a full explanation. Without it, you’re making it harder for everyone to be on the same page.
  • Listen, listen, and listen some more. So many student and parent complaints boil down to the fact that they feel no one is listening to them. If you’re an admissions counselor, your goal should be to get and keep two-way communication throughout the entire recruitment process. You don’t need to “sell” at every turn. When you listen, it lets the other person know you care and that you’re trying to make their experience better.
  • Respond in a timely manner. Responding faster to emails, texts and voicemails is a game changer. If you’ve never done it before, try leaving your email open all day when you’re in the office or at home. Take 5 to 10 minutes at the start of each hour and respond to any new messages…even if your response is to let them know you’re working on answering their question or resolving their issue. It’s a small change that can make a big impact.

When your prospects and their parents come to trust you and your school through transparency, not only does it make cultivating your recruiting relationship easier, but they’ll also be far more forgiving if and when a mistake is made.

Let me also add that even though this article is focused on recruitment strategies, don’t forget that transparency can significantly improve the culture within your office. The more informed colleagues and staff members are, the more invested they will be.

If you’ve got a question about transparency or another aspect of student recruitment, I’m ready to start a conversation. Email me directly at: jeremy@dantudor.com

And if you want even more tips and strategies that everyone in your office can use right now in their everyday routine, bring me to campus in 2019 to lead our recruiting training workshop.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Two Lists You Need to Make For This Upcoming SeasonMonday, November 27th, 2017

by Mandy Green, Busy.Coach

All of us fall sports are less than a month away from starting our seasons. 

AAAAHHH! So exciting!

I’m sure you have either had or will have shortly a conversation with your staff about your priorities and what you want to accomplish for the season.  I just did this recently by myself and my list ended up being about 25 things that I wanted to work on.

After jotting down my initial list, I then met with my staff to review the list and we circled the top five that were most important to us for this season. As I expected, we initially struggled to narrow down everything, and it took some time to make a decision on what our top 5 would be.

Finally, when we decided on our top five, we next needed to ask “Now what are we going to do with the other 20 things on our list?”

Hesitantly, my assistants responded: “Well, the top five things are our primary focus. The other 20 things are not as urgent, but we can still plan to work them into our practices.”

Sounds like a reasonable answer right?

What I said next surprised them.

“I believe that is a mistake that we have made in the past. I think that everything we didn’t circle just became our ‘avoid at all cost’ list.”

We all have so many things in our coaching life that we want to do and accomplish. Who wouldn’t want to succeed at 25 different things? I learned the hard way that when we chase after 25 things at once with our team, we run the risk becoming a jack-of-all trades, but a master of none.

Items 6-25 on your list are probably all very important things, and things that could make your team better. But when it comes to Items 1-5, Items 6-25 are a distraction.

As James Clear writes, “Spending time on secondary priorities is the reason you have 20 half-finished projects instead of 5 completed ones.”

In my study of high performers over these last few years, avoiding distractions to focus on what matters has been a HUGE key to their success.

What sets apart high achievers is not the number of ambitious things they plan to get done, it’s the ability to avoid distractions in order to focus on accomplishing the things that matter.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” — Steve Jobs 

Creating a NOT To-Do List
We’ve all familiar with creating a to-do list to increase our productivity and that is the first list I want you to create. The 2
nd type of list that will jumpstart our productivity is the not-do list – things we shouldn’t do. By being conscious of what to avoid, it’ll automatically channels our energy into things that we want to do. Doing both hand in hand will maximize our performance.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN “NOT TO DO” LIST

Put away your phone, your planner, your to do list apps, and your timers. Instead, take out a sheet of paper and go through this exercise which will help you make your own Not To Do List.

The steps are easy:

  1. Write down your top 25 goals for this upcoming season.
  2. Circle your top 5 goals
  3. Avoid working on any goal that is NOT circled at all costs

Once you have your two lists, focus all your efforts on dominating your top 5 goals and ruthlessly eliminate the 20 less important goals.

It couldn’t be simpler than that.

Whether you’re looking to bring about progress into your program or you’re seeking a way to simplify your coaching life. Creating a Not To-Do List will help you focus on the projects that matter.

Seeing through on your do-not-do list ultimately may take sheer force of will. Like everything, you will get better with practice.  Jim Collins writes, “The real question is… do you have the discipline to do the right thing and, equally important, to stop doing the wrong things?”

When you get stuck on your not-to-do list, you waste time and end the day frustrated because you didn’t progress on your important top 5 goals.  Make your list and post it where you can always see it to remind yourself of what you should not be doing.  Enlist the support of co-workers to help keep you on track.  If you find yourself doing something on your do-not-do list, get up, walk around, refocus, and then get back after your important to-do list items.  Good luck!

I’d love to hear what makes your list!  Please email me your list at mandy@busy.coach

Four Sure-Fire Signs Your Recruit Really Is Interested In YouMonday, November 27th, 2017

We’ve always looked for signs of interest.

Growing up, you looked for signs that the special someone you had your eye on at the playground might like you, too. You looked for signs your high school coach was as good as your parents kept telling telling you that you were. You looked for signs that head coach you interviewed with for your first assistant coach position might have liked you the best.

Looking for signs of interest have now extended to your recruiting efforts. And like the three examples I just gave you, most of the time you were trusting your gut feeling in determining the answer. You listen for the tone in your prospect’s voice, you get excited when they return your text message, and you believe them when they tell you that you’re in their top five (spoiler alert: you might be disappointed).

Those little signs of life are indeed reason for hope – in the first half of the recruiting process leading up to a visit to campus. But as you’ve probably noticed, the same communication patterns, over and over again, get a little maddening. You’re looking for new reasons to get excited, and all they keep giving you is, well…more of the same.

So what should you be looking for as you enter what you would define as the final stages of the recruiting process? While recruiting is a combination of art, as well as science (with a little pinch of psychology every now and then), we can really define four clear signs that your prospect will accidentally give you that they are very, very interested in making you their top choice:

  1. The parents reveal what is going on behind the scenes with the process. Specifically, they will share details about who else they are talking to, other last minute visits that they are taking, or anything else related to the process of making the decision as to whether or not your college is right for them. Why is it so important to be hearing from the parents, rather than just hearing the same thing from the recruit themselves? Because we find that in most family recruiting decisions, the parents take an overly-active role at the end of the process with the coaches that they are serious about. (Which is why it’s so important to establish early and consistent contact with the parents of your recruits!)
  2. They ask a lot of questions about money. Or, about details of the scholarship offer you’ve given them. Really, anything that relates to how much they will be paying (or not paying) to attend your college and play for your program. All of this also includes objections or subtle arguments about those topics, too. Why would you want them to ask questions, or argue about, money or your scholarship offer? Because it’s a sign of interest. If they aren’t really taking you seriously, they won’t invest the time and energy into debating you, right? It’s actually the kids and parents who aren’t asking questions or arguing a little about money that you have to be concerned about.
  3. They ask if they can come back to campus one more time. Why? Because they want to make sure they didn’t miss any detail on their original visit(s). It’s an especially strong sign if they ask to see specific things, or talk to specific people, on campus. They probably won’t come right out and tell you that they’re interested, but a return visit late in the game is a really good sign. (Want to dig up more good signs from future prospects? Ask them these questions after they visit).
  4. Their high school or club coach goes out of their way to keep you updated on what the family is thinking. This is actually the weakest of the four signs that I’m giving you, but because so many college recruiters are now dealing with club and high school coaches as a requisite part of the recruiting cycle with an athlete, I wanted to mention it. The skeptical side of me will tell you that most coaches just try to keep all the possible fires burning on as many potential college campuses as possible. They are hoping to keep all the options open for their young athlete. So why should you hold out hope for this sign? Because sometimes, they are doing it in an effort to keep you interested in the athlete, and running interference on behalf of their athlete’s family who he or she knows is going to choose you, but has to wait until they go through the emotional decision making process.

Understand that you don’t necessarily need all – or any – of these to constitute a ‘truly interested prospect’. You may have top level kids that commit without demonstrating any of these at any point in the recruiting process. However, if you’re looking for something more than just a “gut feeling” about the situation down the final stretch, trust these four sure-fire signs that you have an interested prospect on your hands.

Want to learn more about how to guide your prospect through the final stages of the process – including setting and managing a fair but firm deadline? Watch this talk from Dan Tudor at the 2016 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

Dan Tudor – Deadlines & Closing from Tudor Collegiate Strategies on Vimeo.

It Doesn’t Always Make SenseTuesday, November 21st, 2017

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

Most of us use logic when we make decisions.

I think I’m a pretty rational guy, except when it comes to my inexplicable love for Starbucks coffee. It’s my drink of choice when I’m on the road working with clients or leading an admissions training workshop. It makes no logical sense for me to drive completely out of the way to pay $2.95 for an Americano or $4.35 for a mocha or a latte…but I do it all the time.

Instead of just drinking the coffee that’s available with the hotel breakfast or finding a local gas station or cheaper competitor, I order my Starbucks drink via the mobile app or sometimes stand in line and fork over my $2.95 or $4.35, fully knowing that I just made a completely illogical, irrational, totally emotional buying decision.

And so do you.

And so do prospective students.

Here’s the important point I’m trying to make: Whatever your recruiting message is, if it’s always focused entirely on the logical argument that your college and/or your academic program are the best choice, you may be making a huge mistake. Not because your prospect doesn’t need that. They do. It just might not be the right time for you to use that approach.

Why? Because, like all of us, this current group of students considering your school trusts their feelings as they make decisions on how to proceed in the college search process.

So, before deciding that you’re going to lay out a logical course of action for your prospect, you should consider whether a logical argument is what’s needed right now.

  • Dan (Tudor) and I have found that a lot of prospects have an irrational love of the status quo. They’ve become comfortable, and they don’t like or want change. They don’t want to leave home, and they don’t want to be faced with making a lot of changes, despite what your school can offer them.
  • Many of your prospects are emotionally connected to the symbol of a particular college name. It happens a lot. And prospects don’t talk about it with you because they know it’s illogical and doesn’t make sense, but it’s really hard for them to break away from those feelings (it’s hard for mom and/or dad too).
  • Our ongoing research on campuses across the country continues to show that fear is driving most of the decisions that prospects make during their college search. How are your recruiting messages helping to alleviate that fear?

Despite being armed with knowledge like this, I continue to see admissions and marketing professionals approach a logical process in very logical ways.

And I would argue that’s not very logical.

Instead, let me suggest that there will be times with most prospective students when you need to make a completely illogical argument as to why they belong at your school. As I said earlier, breaking out of the status quo is hard for this generation. They’re scared of leaving home, scared of what those around them will think if they choose a “lesser-known” college, or scared of picking a school that costs a little more.

I want you to consider making a passionate, mostly emotional case as to why going away to college, not choosing one of the popular or more well-known schools, or possibly paying a little more out of pocket is not only the smart thing to do, but the choice that is going to make them feel good about themselves and benefit them the most in the long run.

If you don’t do it then who’s going to?

Just because it doesn’t make logical sense in your mind doesn’t mean it’s the wrong strategy. You’re not recruiting you you’re recruiting them. And, over the past couple of years I’ve seen more examples of irrational, emotional decisions than ever before in our ongoing work with college admission departments.

Again, understand that at certain points in the college search process (especially early on) you need to feed their emotions and make a personal connection rather than a logical case. What you’ll find when you do that is they’ll listen more intently to your logical case whenever you do choose to make it.

BY THE WAY, if you find yourself with an extra 5, 10, or 15 minutes and you’re interested in sharpening your skills as a recruiter or as a leader, click here for access to over 160 FREE articles I’ve written. The articles are broken down into categories on the right hand side.

Admissions Newsletter – Reader Q & A: November 21, 2017Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

This is an opportunity for readers of this newsletter to anonymously ask me a question about any aspect of student recruitment, leadership, and professional or personal development.  Each week I’ll post my answer for everyone to read.

 Q.  An Admissions Counselor asks:

“What’s the biggest reminder you can give me right now?”

A.  Thank you for your question! During my travels this fall a lot of admissions counselors admitted that they haven’t spoken with the parents of a majority of this next class of students.

Please, please, please don’t wait any longer to engage with parents. If you haven’t had at least one phone conversation or email exchange with the parents of students who are farther along in the process, namely your admitted students, make that a priority. Waiting until your school releases financial aid award letters will make your life more difficult.

Work to establish rapport and an emotional connection with the entire family…not just the students. Ask parents questions that allow them to reveal their wants, fears, concerns and the timeline for their family. If you do, what you’ll find is they will look at you as the admissions counselor that respects their opinion and input and is treating them as a valued partner in the recruiting process of their son or daughter.

Good luck.

What Gets Measured Gets ImprovedMonday, November 20th, 2017

by Mandy Green, Busy.Coach

What gets measured, gets improved!

You have probably heard this saying before, “what gets measured, gets improved”.  You probably even use stats a lot depending on your sport.   

For example, if you are a golfer, you track your golf scores. You track the pitch of the Golf course, what club you need to use, and the direction and speed of the wind all factor into your decision to get that little white ball to go where you wanted to go.   Many different factors play into a golf score, and the one who has paid the closest attention to the details has a better score than the one who just goes out and randomly whacks at the ball.

Tracking is also one of businesses best practices. Really great businesses track all of their important metrics (leads, closes, sales numbers, etc.) so they know where their time and resources are best spent. 

For coaches, I think that we all can do a better job of tracking our recruiting numbers.

With the coaches who I work with, we make sure that we know where their time and resources are best being spent with their recruiting by keeping track of their numbers more. 

For example, coaches could to do a better job of keeping track of their numbers from each of the tournaments that they recruiting at.  Most coaches don’t have an endless budget to work with so they really have to be strategic about where we go and when. 

For me, I had just been going to tournaments that we thought we’re getting good results from, but we can’t say for sure because we hadn’t been tracking the numbers.   

These are some of the numbers you could keep track of:

  1. How many recruits did we identify? 
  2. Which emails we’re sending out and what are the responses like?
  3. How many get to our online questionnaire? 
  4. How many are we getting on the phone? 
  5. How many are we getting to campus? 
  6. How many are we closing? 

Coach, just by tracking and paying attention to a few of these numbers, it can help eliminate wasted time and energy going to tournaments that aren’t giving you a good return on your time and energy.    

Another saying that I have heard about measuring or testing is that 1 hour of testing could save you 10.  10 hours saved could get you 10 more hours with your kids, 10 more hours you could workout, 10 more hours to build relationships with your team, 10 more hours to recruit, or 10 more hours to build your program in other ways.  It will be well worth it.

I have tracked the numbers for recruiting phone calls, recruiting letters, social media, campus visits, my energy, focus, habits, communication, goals, and many more.  I have created forms that I use in my Busy Coach Tracking Journal.    Click on the link if you want to try it out.

It does take time to fill out the forms, but you can use these numbers to figure out where you are getting the best ROI of time and resources.  Tournaments, letters, or other tasks that you are not getting a good result from, can either be tossed out or a better way will have to be found.  This is an upfront investment in time, but saves you a lot of time on the backend. 

Interested in trying out my Busy Coach Tracking Journal? If you want to see other ways for how I am teaching measuring and tracking with recruiting to be more productive this year, go to www.busy.coach and subscribe to get my Collegiate Productivity Newsletter.  If you have other ways that you have been testing or tracking, I’d love to hear it.  Email me at mandy@busy.coach.

After the Campus Visit, It’s Important to Do ThisTuesday, November 14th, 2017

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

If I asked you what the “this” is, what would your answer be?

What do you think an admissions counselor should do right after a student from the territory they manage visits campus?

Developing a post-visit strategy is imperative. And by post-visit strategy I’m not talking about sending a handwritten “thank you for visiting” note. That’s a nice touch, but there’s more to it than that if you want to help your prospect and his or her family keep the process moving forward.

Too many admissions counselors slip into the mindset that once a student visits campus, all of their questions have been answered.

Our ongoing focus group research shows the exact opposite usually occurs. Not only do most prospects leave campus with more questions, they also tell us they have a completely different mindset after their campus visit than they do both before and during.

That’s why it’s important for admissions counselors to ask effective, targeted questions. Doing so will provide counselors with some of the best information possible during a critical point in the student recruitment process.

In most cases, your prospect is ready to reveal all kinds of new information about their timeline as well as new feelings (both likes and dislikes) they may have following their visit to your campus…but only if you ask them the right kinds of questions.

Now, you might be wondering when I say right after do I mean immediately after the walking tour before they leave campus, or am I referring to those first few days following their visit? It depends. Recruiting is completely situational. And because that’s the case, you’re going to have to rely on your instincts in terms of when to ask certain questions.

If you’ve been talking back and forth with a prospect that is a senior or a transfer for months now and you’ve established trust and rapport, I would argue it’s okay to be a little more aggressive with your questions before they depart campus.

On the other hand, if it’s a new inquiry or prospect that you just started communicating with recently, you might want to consider giving them a few days to process everything before following up and asking some of the questions I’m about to recommend. Do, however, go ahead and set up a follow-up phone call with them before they leave campus.

Below are some questions that I’ve recommended to our clients that have produced valuable, actionable information (both positive and negative).

Questions you might ask your prospect:

  • Can you walk me through what happens next for you?
  • What are one or two things that you wish you could change about our campus now that you’ve seen it?
  • What did your parents say about the visit during your trip home?
  • Do you feel like there’s something you’re going to try and pay attention to better on your visit to another school?
  • Did your visit to our school change anything about your timeline?
  • Are you planning to visit any other colleges right now?
  • What do you think the best part about living on our campus would be?
  • Are you interested in coming back to campus later this year for another event?
  • If you came back for another visit here, what would you want to see or experience again?
  • What are your parents telling you to do at this point in the process?
  • What do you want to see us talk about next?

Questions you might ask the parent(s):

  • What advice did you give (child’s name) after the visit?
  • What did you talk about the most as a family on the way home?
  • What were the biggest positives about our campus that stuck out to you?
  • What surprised you the most about our campus?
  • What do you see as the next step in (child’s name) decision-making process?

Each one of these questions will allow you to gain some insights into how your prospects and their family are viewing your school. Based on the answers you receive, you can then determine what your next set of actions needs to be.

Let me add that it’s also important to develop one or two follow-up questions that align with your original question. A good follow up question will force your prospect to expand on, or attach additional meaning to, the answer they give you.

Good luck, and enjoy the rest of your week!

P.S. I thought you might enjoy this picture I took at sunrise yesterday as our plane was descending into Atlanta.

Admissions Newsletter – Reader Q & A: November 14, 2017Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

This is an opportunity for readers of this newsletter to anonymously ask me a question about any aspect of student recruitment, leadership, and professional or personal development.  Each week I’ll post my answer for everyone to read.

Q.  An Admissions Counselor asks:

“Jeremy can you tell me one thing I can do right now to improve my customer service. Thanks for all the content you share.”

A.  Great question…thank you for asking it! I’m going to give two things instead of one, because I think both of these are massively important.

Explain the why. A lot of admissions counselors ask their prospects to take action on something without offering an explanation or a “because.” Why should they visit your campus? Why should they apply right now? Why is it in their best interest to fill out the FAFSA right now instead of waiting until January or February? Take the time to clearly explain why you’re asking them to do whatever it is you’re asking them to do, and how it will benefit them or make their life easier.

Listen to them. It’s amazing how often I still hear this complaint from prospects and parents. Remember, your goal should be to get and keep back-and-forth conversations going throughout the recruitment process. You don’t need to “sell” your school at every turn. When you listen, it lets your prospects and their parents know that someone is trying to make their experience better.

Try these two things out and let me know how it goes for you.

Separate Your Program From the Pack with These Critical Non-EssentialsMonday, November 13th, 2017

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

Recently I was asked by a few coaches to give them my top 10 coaching management books. Number
one on my list was a book called “Winning” by Clive Woodward.

I had the privilege to be a part of an amazing lecture about team management about four years ago. In this lecture, the speaker told us about the book Winning! The book is about the process coach Clive Woodward went through in turning a struggling England’s National Rugby team into an International Rugby powerhouse.

In an effort to take his team from good to great, Woodward set out to create a unique and incredibly special experience for the players coming into his program. His ultimate aim was to make the environment so good that once the players had experienced it they never wanted to be left out of it. Woodward created this experience and environment by focusing on the little things he called Critical Non-Essentials (CNE’s). CNE’s are all of the little things or details that make your program what it is. Not just any kind of detail, but the development of things that would and could set your program apart from everybody else.

So, how does this apply to recruiting?

What do you do to set yourself apart in the eyes of your recruits if your main competitors have the same quality of players, the same resources, and the same standard of coaching? To be even better and set yourself apart from your rivals you have to do everything in your power to improve the Critical Non-Essentials of your program.

Here is what you need to do- Buy the book if you have a chance because there are a lot of really great ideas about team management in there. Just a warning, it is a pretty long book and it mostly about Rugby (a sport I don’t think that I will ever understand). It will be well worth your time to read through it though.

Next, take the time to examine every aspect of the player experience within your program (critical non essentials).

Don’t just do this exercise with your coaching staff!

This is a great exercise to get your team involved with. Empower your team to give you feedback on how they would like things to be. You have the ultimate veto power, but let them come up with ideas on what could make each aspect of what they experience within the program everyday a little better.

If you want more from the players, you first have to give them good reasons why they would want to put in the extra effort. You do that by making the critical non essentials better. If you make your program attractive, prestigious and exclusive enough, not only will the players give everything they have within them and more, it could be something that sets your program apart from the rest in the eyes of your recruits.

Below is a list of critical non essentials to examine within your program with your team:

1. Locker Room (seating, equipment, lockers, extras, decorations, laundry)
2. Dress Code (Home games, away games)
3. Laundry
4. Sports Information (Web, game, media guides, TV, radio, other)
5. Practice (Before, warm-up, training, cool-down)
6. Equipment (practice gear, game gear, logo’s, colors, misc)
7. Game day
8. Game day environment
9. Medical/Rehab/Recovery
10. Nutrition
11. Fitness/Strength and Conditioning

The soccer team I was coaching before I read the book was 9-6- 3 that fall season. I was then introduced to Clive Woodward’s ways that next winter. I applied every piece of information I read in that book in the off-season with the team and went from 9-6- 3 to 17-3- 1 the next season. It took A LOT of time and effort to implement these ideas, but the results we got were amazing. Not only was the team excited and committed to the direction the program was headed and with the experience they were having, the recruits we brought in during that time were pretty impressed as well.

I signed my top 6 recruits that Fall!

Mandy Green is a nationally recognized organizational expert who works with coaching staffs around the country to gain more time in their day, and approach their coaching and recruiting in a more organized approach. For details on this important resource for college coaches, click here.

The Dangers of Demanding Recruiting PerfectionMonday, November 13th, 2017

Apple is a company that, in many ways, seems to be perfect.

They pride themselves on cutting edge design, reliable products, and retail stores that have such loyal customers that they often are lined-up a half hour before opening for the day. Their stock price is through the roof, and they employ some of the brightest tech minds on the planet.

But they aren’t perfect. Far from it. Even Apple experiences regular bouts of imperfection. If you owned an iPhone here in the Fall of 2017, you’ve probably been noticing that its difficult to type the letter “I” in a sentence without it being transformed into random symbols.  It’s been fixed, but you have to wonder…how could they let something like that happen?

Like I said, nobody’s perfect.

College coaches are very much in that category, too. No group of humans strive as hard as college coaches do in the pursuit of perfection. The trouble is, many coaches make it an all-or-nothing endeavor: It’s either perfection, or nothing. And since it can’t be “perfect”, sometimes the fall-back position of coaching staffs defaults to “nothing”.

Let me explain giving you three pretty common examples, along with some strong recommendations on how to avoid the trap of not settling for less than perfection as you build and manage your individual programs:

Projections aren’t going to be perfect. Early recruiting is a staple of modern recruiting in most college sports, but one of the consistent concerns I hear about on a regular basis is having to forecast college athletic readiness from an increasingly younger and younger prospect base.

As a result, the temptation is to not trust your best educated guesses on younger prospects you might want to move forward with getting a commitment from. The fear, for many, is that their guess will be wrong tragically wrong.

Spoiler alert: You will fail on some. However, as several coaches we work with have come to discover, you’ll succeed just as often, if not more. What coaches need to understand is that consistently successful programs, and the coaches that lead them, determine an acceptable rate of failed prospects, and then planning for it as a part of their overall recruiting plan.

Trust your gut. If you don’t, you’re making the active choice to pass on quality recruits in an effort to not make a ‘mistake’ on others. Increasingly, that’s going to be a harder and harder strategy to win with.

The number of times you need to watch a prospect isn’t going to be perfect. When a staff is unsure about a recruit, the go-to response is to go watch the recruit again. And again. And again.

Now, if you legitimately need to scout a prospect again, nobody will stand in your way. You have to make sure that athlete is a good fit for your team, and is someone who you want to coach for the next four years. And sometimes, you just want the prospect and his or her family to see you watching them compete as a part of the recruiting process.

That being said, many times important decisions – possible deadlines, or getting an answer your staff may not like – are delayed through the justification that ‘we need to go watch him/her play one more time.’ I have seen that happen many, many times, and the majority of the time it doesn’t have a good result.

Again, if you truly need to further assess a recruit’s true talents or specific skills, it’s your responsibility to do further evaluating. However, if in your heart of hearts you know that you’re simply delaying a next step or difficult decision, re-think your strategy.

Most coaches I know could watch a prospect for 15 minutes and come to a conclusion about most prospects that actually doesn’t change much during the subsequent 15 hours of watching that prospect. You’re smart, Coach, You know what your ideal prospects look like. Identify them, and then focus hard on moving your recruit through a manageable timeline. You’re smart, Coach…give yourself more credit.

Your recruiting message isn’t going to be perfect. Yes, even if we help craft it, it won’t be perfect for every single recruit on your list. There are too many variables in personalities, backgrounds, motivations and other factors in their decision making. And, there are too many variables with you and your staff. The challenge of in-season contact, splitting staff duties, differing recruiting talent levels, and other factors in the way you execute your recruiting plan.

But while you can’t “communicate perfectly”, you can greatly increase the odds of connecting with your recruits better than other teams, and have those student-athletes feel like you are the most interested in them.

It’s simple, actually: Consistency. If your message is consistently and methodically put in front of your prospect population, the majority will be drawn towards you and your program. Yes, the exact language becomes important later in the process as everything moves forward, but a core part of their evaluation of which programs they should take seriously revolve around who is the most consistently telling them the ongoing story of why you are the program that is going to be the better choice in the end.

Devote yourself to delivering an ongoing message that is the best possible, not necessarily “perfect”.

Here’s the bottom line: Don’t sacrifice the good for the perfect. You only reach perfection a few times in your career, but the potential to find good – sometimes really, really good – will happen more often than you imagine, if you stay focused on it.

For hundreds of college programs around the country, we team with them to create effective, compelling, consistent messaging. Our goal, in our work with those programs, is to help them connect with their best recruits. And it works. If you’d like to hear how we do it, and why it might be right for you and your program, click here and then email Dan Tudor at dan@dantudor.com.

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