Most college coaches who have spent time in the private sector would agree that being successful in recruiting is a lot like being successful in business.
If you run your business the right way, profits will follow. If you run an organized recruiting effort, you’ll get good recruits consistently, year after year.
Many businesses, like many coaching staffs, don’t organize themselves to operate profitably. The results are dire: They struggle financially, jeopardize their personal relationships because of the stress, and often have to close their doors. While the end results for a college coach may look a little different, the symptoms are identical: Struggling bottom-line results, increased stress, and losing out on the recruits you really want.
This is where a reality T.V. show might just be the answer you’re looking for – whether you’re a business owner, or a college recruiter.
The show I’m referring to is the CNBC hit, “The Profit”. It features Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, as a business success “prophet” who goes into a struggling business, invests his own money (much of the time in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) to take a controlling interest in the operation, and turn it around through a set of principles that he has developed, and uses in his own operation at Camping World.
It’s that set of principles that college coaches can learn from, as well as measure against the way they currently operate their coaching office and recruiting efforts. On the surface, Lemonis’ principles seem to be very simple: People, Process and Product. In every business he invests in, those three things have to be present in order to realize success.
And that’s where college coaches can take a page from his winning strategy to turn around their recruiting results.
As I take you through each of the principles laid out by this successful entrepreneur, ask yourself, “Is our coaching staff, and our recruiting approach, generating the kind of recruiting “profits” that are building our program’s brand and separating us from the competition?”
Do you have the right coaches on staff to be as successful as possible, and are you communicating with them to make sure that they have what they need to get the job done?
Notice this set of principles doesn’t start-off with “stuff”. I didn’t ask how new your stadium is, or what your budget was, or the year you won your last conference title. Frankly, those types of things become more of a hinderance than a help when it comes to what a coach talks about, or how they tell their story to a recruit.
What’s important is having the right people in place, not only from purely a coaching perspective, but also when it comes to communication ability, sales ability, and other traits that typically make-up successful coaches at the highest levels. Do you have those people on your staff? Are you one of them? And if you aren’t, are you taking steps towards educating yourself and making yourself the best recruiter you can be?
If you don’t have the best people around you, and if you aren’t the most competent recruiter you can be, it’s going to be impossible to succeed over the long haul. That’s true in business, and it’s true in college athletics.
If you looked at the way you’ve laid out your recruiting process, could you say that it reflected these traits?
- You have an agreed upon plan of attack when it comes to the geography you and your staff will be recruiting, as well as who is best to recruit those areas.
- When you scout prospects, everyone is using the same measurement metrics that reflect the criteria for a top prospect as outlined by the head coach.
- Are you giving your recruits a consistent, compelling message that tells the story of your program and answers the question, “why they should want to compete for you?”
- Are you setting-up fair but firm deadlines that put you in control of the process?
- Is your staff evaluating how a previous recruiting year went, and what can be done to change and improve the results for the next year?
The process you put in place is critical to your success as a recruiter. Without a good process, all the talented people in the world won’t matter.
In one sense, you might say that this is an area where you, as a college coach, have no control when it comes to the quality of “the product” you can give a recruit. You can’t control the type of facilities you have, what they look like, the location of your college, whether it’s blazing hot in the Summer or icy cold in the winter…all of that is out of your hands.
But let’s choose to focus on the parts of your product that you do have control over:
- The coordinated effort with your team to wow a recruit you bring to campus, making them feel like your team wanted them the most, and are the easiest to get to know.
- How you interact with the parents of your recruit, and what you do with the separate from their son or daughter during that recruiting visit.
- The tone of your voice on phone calls, and how you personalize a recruiting letter.
- Using the largest and most influential public relations resource that you have at your fingertips to engage with your recruits, showing them what your program’s personality is all about.
Coach, don’t get sucked into the false assumption that it’s only the size and quality of your facility that sways recruits into choosing one college program over another. That’s false. You can counteract any shortcoming when it comes to something like facilities, location or your team’s recent performance by nailing those four important parts of your overall product.
I’m not suggesting that any coaching staff or athletic department can be turned around magically overnight with just a few simple tweaks. However, these three areas are a good foundational starting point when it comes to figuring out what to focus on when you’re looking to include you program’s recruiting performance.
And the best part? There won’t be any reality T.V. cameras following you around while you do it!