Year after year, we add to our library of recruiting focus group studies that help us advise our coaching clients on the right recruiting strategies to implement with their prospects.
And, year after year, we are reminded how important parents are to the process.
In our latest set of research surveys, recruited athletes tell us that their parents are involved from start to finish: They help arrange campus visits, assist in filling out applications, and give their opinion on which colleges aren’t right for their son or daughter.
One of the biggest ongoing findings that underscore how important parents are in the process: The weight prospects place on the overall opinion of their parents. 91.3% of the prospects we surveyed said that the opinion of their parent(s) was either a “very important” or “important” outside factor that influenced their decision. That’s 9 out of 10 of your prospects that are looking to their parents to help them make their final decision!
So, my question for you is this, coach:
How much emphasis do you put on recruiting your prospect’s parents? According to our findings that we outlined above, it’s important that you create a separate and distinct plan to recruit the parents of your prospect at the same time you recruit your prospect.
Here are some ways that you can make sure you don’t overlook one of the most important people in the recruiting process…the parents of your prospect:
- Create a separate recruiting plan that focuses solely on parents. Making the case to the parents of your recruits with separate communication, focusing on the same selling points you are making with your prospects but from a parental perspective, is critical. And whatever plan is created before your next recruiting campaign, making it an ongoing stream of messaging (ideally, something going out to them at least every 3-4 weeks) will make an incredible difference in the overall results of your effort.
- Use e-mail and text messaging to talk regularly with parents. Studies show that parents now rely on e-mail more than kids, and are also more likely to communicate directly with coaches via text. They check it more frequently, and reply more quickly. Make it a point to get the e-mail address of your prospect’s parents, and communicate regularly with them, focusing on the procedural part of the recruiting process. Focus on any paperwork and visit needs with parents, especially.
- Put together an informative packet just for parents. Include some of the things that don’t get read right now by your prospects. Most parents will take that information you send them or give them on the visit and act as an advocate for you and your program once you show them that their opinion and value in the recruiting process is of the highest importance to you.
- Make at least one phone call to them to make sure they are getting their questions answered. Take some time to find out what concerns they have, what insights they can give you about their son or daughter, and how you can make the process go as smoothly as possible for them. This is a huge way to set yourself apart from your competition who is focused completely on the athlete, and is largely ignoring the parents.
Rocket science? No. Important? Absolutely. But it takes discipline to change how you recruit so that you put a renewed emphasis on getting the parents on your side.
If you take the time to create a trusted relationship with the parents, you’ll win the athlete much of the time. Parents have huge influences over their children (even the rebellious teenage sports-playing ones!) and you need to take advantage of their influence in the recruiting process.