I can tell the prospects of recruiting getting closer to what we’re all accustomed to is approaching as we head into the spring of 2021. Last week the majority of conversations I was having with coaches was about campus visits. That’s really good news.
It appears many schools are opening their doors to recruits where they had been closed previously. Even though the traditional overnight visit might be still down the road the opportunity to have recruits and their families on campus present an opportunity many have not seen in some time.
While your attention to consistent messaging (every 6-9 days) is critical to your success, your performance (and it is a performance) on the campus visit can be the decisive factor that determines whether you get that recruit or not. Putting together a campus visit that meets your needs as well as your recruit and his/her family needs isn’t complicated, It does, however, require planning and an appreciation for the importance of offering a day that is strategic and intentional.
In celebration of the return to campus visits I’m offering the following suggestions:
- Talk to your team about the campus visit. You may think you know what a 17 or 18 year old is going to want to do on campus but you could be way off base. Assemble some of your freshmen and sophomores and talk to them about their campus visit. What they liked and what they didn’’t. What was the one thing that stayed with them about the visit?
- And while you’re talking to them about the visit, coach them on how to conduct the visit. We know the best results on the field of competition come when we enter the event prepared. How prepared are your athletes to answer a question about alcohol or drug use on your campus or team? If they’re not prepared to answer that when Mom or Dad ask all the groundwork you did going into the visit could be lost in an instant. You absolutely need to rehearse how your athletes respond to objections you know will come up (your stadium, your locker room, your record, your town, etc.)
- Treat your recruits and their families like VIP’s. Have drinks and snacks prepared for their arrival. Have name tags or lanyards for them. Have them listed as guests if they’re going to an event. Have a parking space designated for them. Anything that denotes the day being totally about them wins every time.
- Our data tells us your recruits are less excited about going to a class than you might think. Yup, they know you’re a college and classes are required. Check!!! What they want to do is spend at least half of their time on your campus with you and your team building friendships, seeing themselves in your uniform, getting a feeling for the dorms, etc. The visit is your chance to plant the seed for the friendships they want to have next year! And don’t forget to eat on campus. It’s about the food! They tell us so time and time again in the surveys we collect!
- After meeting and greeting the parents and their son or daughter, send the recruit off with your freshmen and sophomores for their agenda and you guide the parents through their agenda. Doing this allows both parties to have the experience they’re looking for and creates a very dynamic conversation when they leave campus. Rather than talking about the same experience they’re talking about the different things they saw and heard. That’s a good thing!
- Let others in your department know you have a recruit coming. Doing so will promote conversation as they pass through your department.
- Give them something the other programs they’re considering won’t. Maybe it’s a session with your AD or other administrator.
- Don’t oversell. This is your chance to ask questions that will help you tell the story about your program, your school, your background that will allow you to convince them your school is their best choice.
- As you begin to build the campus visit ask your recruit AND their parents what it is they are looking to learn about you and your school during the campus visit beyond the obvious. Force them to share with you some specific things you can prepare to share with them when they come. Doing this demonstrates the fact that the day is about THEM, not you.
- Be yourself! Relax …. It would be far worse for you to pretend to be something you’re not and have them choose you only to find that person they saw when they visited was not genuine.
And last, always follow up the visit with a message within a couple days. A handwritten note has the best result.
Want the ultimate guide to creating a winning campus visit for this generation of prospect? Make sure you have our “Freaking Awesome Campus Recruiting Visits” book in your coaching library! Lots of coaches have used it to create more effective visit experiences, and you can also. Click here.