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February 9th, 2016

12 Strategies That Will Help You Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

We all know that today’s prospective student has choices when it comes to higher education…thousands of them actually. So, if you know that students and families are your customers and they have a massive amount of colleges and universities to choose from, then you need to constantly be coming up with ways to get and keep their attention and ultimately exceed their expectations. If you don’t consistently do that, then you can’t consistently expect to increase enrollment. Translation: You need to deliver exceptional customer service.

Two weeks ago I was able to spend a couple of days with a good friend of mine. He and his brother entered the restaurant business about 18 months ago in a small town that my family used to live in. On the way to dinner I noticed that a popular, well-known national sports bar chain now resided in town. I had always maintained that if this particular restaurant came to that town, it would flourish. My friend proceeded to tell me that the exact opposite was happening. Despite the big name and national reputation, the customer service at that restaurant was very poor, and that was translating into a lot of hit and miss business.

So, I want you, the admissions counselor, to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself these questions: “Would I trust me?” “Would I come to me for help?” and ultimately, “Would I buy from me?” Those are tough questions that need to be asked and shouldn’t be answered without some serious thought.

If you’re in a management position (VP, Director, Assoc. Director) when was the last time you evaluated not only yourself and your enrollment team but also anyone else a typical student interacts with on your campus during the college search process. In this day and age where many complaints are aired on social media, all it takes is for one person in your campus community to come across as unpleasant, can’t be bothered, or heaven forbid down right rude and…well you know the rest.

Today I want to share with you 12 strategies that will help you and your team stand out and consistently meet the needs of all of your prospective students and their parents.

  1. Listen more than you talk, especially with younger students. We know counselors mean well when they try and talk about every ranking and positive statistic during that initial conversation with a prospective student. The problem is your recruits tell us it’s not helping. Instead, when you listen, your recruits and their parents will share all kinds of information about their wants and needs. You can then take that useful information and build a worthwhile relationship. Listening and giving your undivided attention are both chiefly important to your customer.
  1. Constantly look for ways to engage. Remember the teacher that read things word for word from the textbook? Boring, right? If you’re sending long, wordy mailings or always asking yes/no type questions in person and on the phone, are you really gaining their interest? It’s hard enough for young people to focus on something for more than a few seconds. How are you engaging them and creating that anticipation?
  1. Become the “go-to-person.” I use this phrase all the time during On-Campus Workshops. Whether you like it or not, a large part of your job is to be a problem solver. You must provide your recruits and their families with the information they want and need to make an informed decision. For example, right now many families are trying to navigate through financial aid. Do they understand how to complete the different kinds of financial aid paperwork? Do they understand that many schools prioritize who gets funding based on deadlines? The more you do for them, the more they’ll look at your school as the logical choice. As that “go-to person” some of you will even find that prospects and parents will call you when they have questions about other schools they’re considering.
  1. Provide your customers with a clear, concise message.  Keep your recruits informed from start to finish and do so with simple messages that are easily and quickly understood.
  1. Always tell them what’s next.  If you can, narrow it down to one thing.  Make it straightforward. Your prospects and their parents both want and need to know how each part of the college search process works. By doing this, you will increase their comfort levels and minimize what can otherwise easily become a stressful time in their lives.
  1. Ask the parents of your recruit how they’re coping with the college search process. That type of question is one of the “15 Great Questions” we usually recommend to college coaches during our On-Campus Workshops. You need to understand how the process is affecting them and what obstacles it creates when it comes to considering your school.
  1. Make appointments. I’m still amazed by the number of schools whose counselors pick a bunch of names off their call sheet and then wonder why only one or two answer. Setting up a date and time to speak with your recruits takes the guesswork out of phone calls. It also helps you remain consistent. Be sure and have a system in place for tracking these calls because the worst thing you can do is either forget to call or mix up one recruit’s information with another (yes that still happens).
  1. Don’t just deliver, but over-deliver. How you ask? Start by being sincere when you communicate with them. Then, deliver more than what they’re expecting specifically during the campus visit. Focus more on why things matter to them during the tour and provide additional opportunities for personal interaction with your students. If you exceed their expectations in those areas, you’ll win almost every time.
  1. Gain agreement along the way. I often refer to these as “little yeses.” I want you to gain agreement that they like what they’re hearing about your institution and that they understand why it would be a “good fit” for them. Agreement along the way makes that next phone call and that next step much easier…especially when it comes time to “ask for the sale.” It will allow you to stay connected with your recruit during each part of your recruiting strategy.  Plus, your recruit will actually appreciate your efforts to keep them in the loop along the way versus having to guess what’s going to happen next.
  1. Talk about deadlines far in advance. Reiterate when they need to submit specific paperwork, and explain to admitted students, for example, why sending in their deposits in a timely manner once they’ve been accepted is important. Deadlines help to keep everyone focused on the task at hand.
  1. Be where your customers are. Almost all of your prospects are using social media. If you’re not on it, they wonder why. Having an admissions page is great, but just like our customized recruiting com flow has the counselors’ names attached to each letter and email, I want you, if you’re a counselor, to have a personal page to use for engagement. Providing behind the scenes content via Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and other platforms is something your customers both want and appreciate.
  1. When a recruit chooses another school. Sometimes no matter how great your customer service is your prospect will choose to go elsewhere. The reasons rarely make sense, but that’s the reality. When this happens, send them a personal note wishing them well. Tell them you’re even excited for them. That kind of service will pay dividends when others around them inquire down the road about your institution and the overall experience that they received from you.

If you want a team of proven recruiting experts to help you improve your customer service, bring us to campus! Email me directly for more info: jeremy@dantudor.com

February 8th, 2016

Create a System to Write Recruiting Messages Faster


by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

As College coaches, we write a lot.  We write to juniors and seniors we are recruiting or have already committed, we write to parents, or we are writing to youth coaches who have players we want. 
 
If you just sit down and try to come up with a brilliant message that will get opened, read, and returned, you may find yourself wasting a lot of time staring at a blank screen as you try to figure out what to write. 
 
Also, if you don’t have a lot of experience writing recruiting messages or are not a very good writer, it can feel incredibly time-consuming.  But more importantly, if you don’t have a strategy or workflow, I have found it takes even longer. So what I want to do today is to share what I learned from Michael Hyatt, author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.”
 
Michal Hyatt uses a 10 step process to write his blog posts quicker. I highly encourage you to try when you have to send out your next batch of recruiting emails. I know that it will help to speed up the recruiting writing process.

  1. Start writing the night before.  Come up with what you want to write about and then rough out the details. The idea is to just get the process started and then let it simmer in the background of your thinking as it sits in your subconscious  I’ve found that helps me so much. If I just sit down and try to write, I sometimes end up just being stumped, looking at a blank screen not knowing what to write about.
  2. Use your downtime to think. I want you to think about when you get your best ideas. Usually our best ideas happen when we’re relaxed. That’s why a lot of good ideas come to you in the shower and other places. By starting your recruiting message the night before, in your downtime until you actually write the email, you can purposefully be thinking about the next set of messages that you could send out.
  3. When it is time to actually write your recruiting messages, go offline. Put yourself in a distraction-free environment where your phone and email notifications are turned off.The thing that kills writing recruiting emails and turns a 30-minute process into a 7-hour process is when you’re allowing yourself to be bombarded by social media and other kinds of interruptions.
  4. Turn on some music to get into a creative mindset.  What kind of music will get you focused and creative?
  5. Give yourself a time limit and then set a timer. I have found this helps a lot to create more urgency and helps to keep me focused on the work at hand.
  6. Use a template. Writing recruiting emails can go a lot faster when you have a premade writing template that you are following.  By following a certain skeletal structure I’m not having to create that from scratch every time or having to guess what the flow of the email I am creating is going to be. For great ideas on what should go into your template, go to www.dantudor.com.
  7. Write without editing. Coaches can get stuck and it really slows them down if they’re editing as they go. Try to just write without interruption as fast as you can and just try to get it all out.
  8. Then go back and edit.
    1. Look to eliminate redundancy
    2. Try to eliminate complex sentences and make them simpler and more straightforward.
    3. Ask yourself if there is an easier or simpler way to say that or a simpler word to use?
  9. Add the pictures or links. We try to put in a lot of links to get recruits to keep going back to our website.  Or sometimes we use a lot of pictures to paint a picture of what it would be like to attend our school.
  10. Send to a colleague to preview. There are things they might pick up that you wouldn’t pick up otherwise.

Now, these 10 steps may work great for you.  If not, hopefully at least I have you thinking about how you could tweak this to find a formula or process that would work for you.  I think the important thing is that if you can define a process for yourself, no matter what that is, and then spend the next several weeks optimizing that so you know exactly what the steps are, it’ll be much faster for you to get in the groove and be productive with writing.
 
My hope in giving you this process as well is that it will take a little bit of the stress out of writing recruiting letters for you, because it can be very stressful. And when we get stressed about it, we actually end up procrastinating or putting it off, and then those consistent recruiting messages we are supposed to be sending never happen.
 
So no matter what kind of writer you are, come up with a system. It doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from the system from time to time. I do. But at least you have a track to get you started and a way to get your recruiting messages out that works for you 90% of the time.

Hope you have a productive rest of the week! 

Mandy Green

P.S. – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What do you do to make time for recruiting? Email me at mandy@mandygreencps.com. If you want more tips about how to save time with recruiting, go to my website at www.mandygreencps.com.  

P.P.S.  If you have found this article helpful, please share it with your staff or other work colleagues!  Studying time and energy management over these last 4 years and applying it to my coaching and recruiting has been a game changer for me.  I am committed to helping coaches get more important work done in less time so more time can be spent with family and friends.  Thanks!

February 2nd, 2016

Are You Asking Effective Questions After the Campus Visit?

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

One of the biggest questions that admissions directors approach me with is how to deliver a campus visit that exceeds a prospective student’s expectations. The reason for that is simple. A visit to your campus, and more specifically the “feel” of your campus, is the most important factor for just about every student on your list when it comes to making their college choice. Our ongoing focus group research on college and university campuses around the country confirms that statement time and time again.

Today, I want to focus on a part of the campus visit that can be extremely valuable for admissions counselors – asking effective questions after a student visits campus.

Most admissions counselors that we’ve worked with tend to slip into the mindset that once they’ve had a prospective student on campus all of the student’s questions have been answered. Wrong.

What you say to them in the first week after they visit, and the information you ask them, can not only help set you apart from your competition, but it can give you some of the best information possible during a critical point in the recruitment process.

In most cases, your recruit is ready to reveal an entirely new set of information and feelings to you following their visit to your campus…but only if you ask them.

Here are 4 key questions we would recommend based on the focus group research we’ve compiled with this generation of students. I encourage you to use these going forward if you want to gain a deeper understanding of exactly what your prospect’s mindset is after they leave your campus.

“Walk me through what you see happening next for you in the college search process.” Our work with admissions departments indicates that in many cases once your prospect has visited your campus their internal agenda changes. What they thought they were going to do and how they felt before the visit has probably now changed. Smart recruiters should want that information so that they can adjust their recruiting strategy accordingly.

“Can you tell me a couple of big things that you wish you could change about our campus now that you’ve been here.” The temptation for some counselors will be to let the student take a pass when they say something like, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure.” Don’t give in. Have them define what they would change about your campus now that they’ve seen it in person…even if they think it’s something small and meaningless. We’ve seen recruits use small discomforts at the end to justify why they aren’t going to choose your institution. It’s important that you have a firm grasp on what those are and then work to change your recruit’s mind through consistent recruiting communication.

“What did your parents say they liked about our campus and the visit?” The parents, as you know if you read this newsletter regularly or have had us on your campus to explain the details of a family’s decision making process, are key. You absolutely need to understand what they liked, or didn’t like, about the visit. Then you can develop a strategy as to how you’re going to recruit the parents during the late stages of the process.

“What other colleges are you talking with seriously at this point?” Don’t assume you know even if they told you a couple of weeks ago prior to their visit. Recruiting can change daily as does the mindset of a typical teenager. I want you to double check because many times we find that the list has changed.

Each of those four questions is important. Asking them after the campus visit will allow you to gain some incredible insights into how your prospects and parents are viewing, not only your institution, but for that matter you. Based on their answers, you can develop more effective questions that will help you determine what your next set of actions needs to be.

If you don’t ask any questions after the campus visit, you risk wasting all of your hard work up to that point. Oh, and if your school already does a post-visit survey that’s great, but I would still recommend you ask your recruits these kinds of effective questions. When you ask them personally it will help you build trust and continue to cultivate that all-important recruiting relationship.

WANT EVEN MORE? If you’d like some effective questions I’d recommend that you ask the parents after the campus visit, simply email me: jeremy@dantudor.com

February 1st, 2016

The Cost of Your Program

Here’s the deal:

If your recruit, and his or her parents, aren’t buying into your program, it’s not because the price tag is too much. That’s one of the great lies that college coaches have bought into far too long.

The reason they aren’t buying into your program is because they don’t believe what you’ve told them. They don’t care about competing for you enough. And, they don’t love you and your team enough.

That’s the cold, hard, truth.

I feel compelled to lay it on the line like that because of the different ways coaches are telling me they are struggling with “cost”:

  • The net cost of attending your school versus your competitor’s school.
  • The ‘cost’ of choosing your Division III program over a Division II program, even if the net cost of that Division III is less than the Division II…there’s a mental ‘cost’, according to our research, in the minds of many recruits who have the mindset that they need to choose the higher division level program simply because it’s a higher division level.
  • The ‘cost’ of waiting to play for your program instead of playing right away at the other program that’s recruiting them.

Cost is more than money. It’s the idea that your recruit (or the recruit’s parents, or your recruit’s club coach) has to give up something in exchange for going to your program.

Your job, as a serious college recruiter, is to balance that cost with truthful, consistent, compelling stories. You need to prove that you care more about them, and have a plan for them once they commit to your campus. And, you’d better make sure you allow them room to fall in love with the young men or women on your team, and let them develop close-knit relationships with them.

So the magic question is, obviously, “what’s the best way to do that?”

It depends on the individual prospect, of course, but here are some important general guidelines that I think it’s smart to consider as you prove that your ‘cost’ is worth it, in my experience of advising and working one-on-one with college coaches:

  • Talk about money, and the potential cost of your college, sooner rather than later in the recruiting process. One of the most costly mistakes I’ve seen coaches make is delaying speaking with parents and athletes about either the overall cost of the school, the potential scholarship that would be offered, and the types of grants and financial aid that are available to offset the cost of school. The first step in justifying the cost of your program is to talk about the actual dollars and cents involved with attending.
  • If money isn’t the issue, search out the other ‘costs’ they’re tallying. Is there a cost to going to your school instead of staying closer to home? Begin talking about it. Is there a risk you’re asking them to take by choosing your program in the midst of rebuilding, or a program that’s going to ask them to wait two years for playing time? Begin talking about it. Starting that conversation, and getting agreement from your prospect to listen to you over an extended period of time, is critical.
  • Get them to believe. Begin offsetting the cost of your college by giving them something to believe in. I can’t tell you what those things are in an article like this, but it involves more than just listing the following:
    • How many wins you had last year.
    • The great conference that they’ll play in.
    • How many degree options your school offers.
  • Demonstrating a consistent, transparent, passionate conversation with them that tells them why they should choose your program is how you get them to believe. That takes time, and a long-view or recruiting. Most coaches don’t have the discipline or creativity to do that, but if you don’t, our research is clearly showing that this generation of prospects needs this type of messaging from you in order to justify the ‘cost’ of your college. I wish there were an easier, quicker way to get that job done, but in being a part of literally thousands of individual recruiting battles with the coaches we work with, I can tell you that this is how you win consistently.
  • They need to connect with you and your team. This generation of recruits desperately seek a personal connection with you and your team. If there’s one area where we see recruits and their parents justifying the higher ‘cost’ of your program, and making you their number one choice, it’s in this area. When they visit campus, the focus should be connecting with prospects on a personal basis, and not just showing them your ‘stuff’.

The cold, hard, truth is that the ‘cost’ of your program is the thing that is on the mind of your recruit, and his or her family, right now. They’re trying to figure out how to justify it.

What are you actively doing, today, to help them?

A great way to dig deep into topics like this with a few hundred fellow college recruiters? Attend the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer! It’s an amazing line-up of experts and coaches who are set to share their successes, and pull back the curtain on the secrets that have put them on top of their game. You MUST be there! Click here for all the details.

February 1st, 2016

What Your Mom Never Told You About Hollow Recruiting

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Moms are great. Yet … sometimes they don’t tell us everything.

For example, I can hear a coach’s mom saying, “Dearie, when you’re a coach you will serve an important role in our society.”

Okay, that could happen, right? Sure.

But I wouldn’t expect the mom to then add, “Oh, while you do your coaching-thing you will be under-appreciated, under-supported, and under-developed.”

Even though its true, few people mention it. It’s too bad coaches aren’t  told those truths because they result in coaches who often can’t generate their true positive impact.

Hollow Coaching

That true positive impact of a coach can be significant and it shows up in five areas which are represented in this simple formula:

C-O-A-C-H

Community Development

Organization Development

Athlete Development

Coach Development

Helpful Overall

Sketching it out, it would look something like this:

But here’s the rub, when a coach is under-supported, under-appreciated, under-developed the coach can’t impact those areas because he is just trying to survive. His focus is to make it through the day … the next contest … the next fundraising event … the next disgruntled parent meeting. Poor Coach has no time/effort/energy to spare on other things except for his own survival.

When that happens Hollow Coaching occurs.

And Hollow Coaching looks like this:

The coach is just concerned about contest performance. No development happens. Communities, teams, athletes, coaches are left depleted at the end. It’s resource management at its worst.

Of course a cynical coach would see the advantage of this, “Thats perfect, I get to focus on winning — forget all that other stuff.” It’s that statement, and those coaches, who represent the worst of sports; and why we see impacts such as 75% of kids quitting sports at by the age of 13, never to play a sport again.

I’ve been a coach since 1980, and have done my share of hollow coaching. It’s not where we do our best work. It’s not the type of coaching that’s fun or rewarding.

“Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing and wherever we are going, we owe it to ourselves, to our art, to the world, to do it right.” –Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is The Way

What’s A Coach To Do? (Action You Should Take)

So what’s your plan, Coach? Is it to go about your business, focusing only on winning, and just try to survive to the end of the season?

If you’ve read this far, I doubt that’s what you’re thinking. So, start here with this question … “Is my coaching hollow?” Let’s get some insight.

Grab a piece of paper, draw two axis. Along the horizontal axis list the formula. Along the vertical one, put 1-5.

Now pick a typical in-season month, and for each part of the formula plot the number of times you did something for that specific area in that month. It might look something like this:

The horizontal axis represents hollow coaching. The higher your points extend vertical the more complete your coaching is.

Notice anything scary, or encouraging?

If you suspect your coaching is tinting toward hollow, there are steps you could take, such as:

  • Ask for help with your coaching duties
  • Use the Power of No
  • Get a deeper understanding of the sinister truths of coaching
  • Carve out a few minutes each day to work on your development

I suggest more actions you can take here. And you can print a blank graph right here, for you to fill out.

And you can ask a mom for help. They often have some pretty creative solutions.

— — —

I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to discuss coaching. Leave a comment and tell me a little bit more about your coaching world, hollow or not.

More soon,

-Mike

February 1st, 2016

Save Time and Mental Energy With Tracking Forms

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

A common time management mistake is to try to use your memory to keep track of all of the tasks you need to accomplish.  I don’t care how good you think your memory is: the fact is that most people simple cannot rely on their memory alone to keep track of everything that needs to get done.  

Below is one of the many simple tracking forms that I created to help me keep track of some of the repetitive things that I need to keep track of as a coach.  

fa5f11a9-5fdc-4369-ad0b-c44abbdf1d9a
I use the USD Player Tracking Form to make sure that I am consistently keeping in touch with everybody on my team over the summer.  I look at it on Sunday night and decide who I will contact and when I will do it.  Then I schedule it into my Coaching Productivity Day Planner.  First thing in the morning when I am doing my strategic planning, I relook at the list to see who I am contacting and I make sure I don’t need to add anybody. 

Instead of wasting brain power having to try to remember who I have or haven’t been in touch with, this sheet shows me who I have been in contact with, when I contacted them, and what type of communication was used.  Instead of wasting time trying to remember, this sheet allows me to make quick decisions about who I should contact, take decisive action and fire off a quick text, email, or phone call.  Then I record it.  Done.  Now I don’t have to remember or think about this for the rest of the day.  Love it.      

These types of forms are great because:
1. They are simple and easy to fill out.
2. They give you a way to keep track of a lot of information.
3. They give you a visual picture of what you have and haven’t done. 
4. I don’t waste a lot of time having to try to remember who I need to get in contact with.  It is all on paper (or on the computer for some things).
5. You can track your results. 

Here are some of the other ways that I have used this type of form.
1. I use this form to keep track of my top recruits to make sure that I am consistently keeping in touch with them.  I have a different form that I have created where I have different symbols that I use if I sent an email, made a phone call, had a campus visit, contacted the parents, contacted youth coaches, etc.   
2. I use a different sheet that looks like this for tracking my daily goal actions. 
3. I use this during the year with my team to make sure I am consistently having individual conversations with them.
4. I have taught my players to use this sheet to track their goals and for tracking their study habits before tests. 
5. I have  also used this form to keep track of how many times at practice I worked on certain concepts during the year. 

I will then use these tracking forms to reflect on any successes or failures that I might have had throughout the year.  To use the player tracking form as an example, based on where my player relationships are at when my players show up this fall, I can look back to see how much I was in touch with them over the summer to see if it was enough, too little, or maybe even too much communication.  Then I can use those results to tweak my actions to make sure I am doing it better next time around.   

These forms are extremely simple but have been invaluable for me.  I am saving a lot of time and brain power that I can now use on other things that I can be doing to progress my program forward.  

I’d love to hear if you have other ways to use a form like this.  Please email me at mandy@mandygreencps.com.  If you want to see the forms that I have created, just email me and I will send them to you. 

Have a great week.

Mandy Green
Coaching Productivity Strategies
 http://www.mandygreencps.com

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