Tic Toc … Tic … Toc….
No, this is not about the social media phenomenon but instead the clock ticking on how much time you have left to lock in your next recruiting class. With the start of the spring semester inching closer for most institutions it’s also getting closer to decision day for your 2020 recruits. As a track guy, if this were a mile run, we’d be entering the gun lap!
With an eye on the recruiting clock I offer some tips and reminders about staying on task as you look to close on your next recruiting class.
Consistent messaging (6-9 days) has never been more critical at this point in your recruitment cycle. Hopefully you’ve been making the case for your program athletically for several months. At this point other consideration become more important. These include life on campus, location (have answers for being too close as well as too far away), campus size, your academic profile, career placement, off campus social opportunities, etc. Do not make the mistake of neglecting these considerations here in the home stretch.
Information is always going to be our best friend so you need to know what’s holding your recruits back from committing. Here are some questions that will help tease out that information:
a. “Give me one or two big questions you have about attending our school. What are you trying to figure out about us?”
b. “If there was one thing you could change about our school what would it be?”
c. “What is the single most important factor for you AND your parents about selecting your school?”
d. “What is holding you back from choosing our school?”
You don’t need to ask all these. It may depend on the recruit and your knowledge of each. With this information you can build answers. And, don’t feel you need to give answers when you ask the question. Your recruits and especially their parents, will appreciate the fact that you were willing to reflect and gather good information for them. Also, you should ask your recruit’s parents these same questions. You may be surprised!
We talk a lot about deadlines at Tudor Collegiate Strategies, knowing it is unsettling for coaches. Our biggest concern is your being left behind to the other campuses that use them. If you haven’t put a deadline in place at this point, it may be too late to put a firm deadline on their decision. But, you can tell them your class is coming together quickly and you really don’t want them to be left behind. “What can we do to assure that doesn’t happen?”
There can also be significant value in asking your recruit to make you their “Official Second Choice”. In the event they HAVE chosen someone else, see if they are willing to make you their official second choice. A lot can go wrong between now and the time they land so keep yourself in the running. Continue to recruit them because there is the chance the OTHER school will disengage following a commitment and then they begin second guessing.
Your recruit’s parents may be the key that unlocks the door to your winning their commitment. Ninety-one percent of your recruits will be relying on them to guide their decision. Feed the parents about what you like about their child, what their role on the team will be and your plans for them, and how much you WANT THEM. Tell them about the rapport between all the parents in program, the special events they can participate in and they will be part of the team in every way their child is. You also have to let them know the value of their “ROI” or return on investment at your school. Consumer Reports stuff, career placement, graduate earning potential, post grad study placement, etc.
While you may not be able to control the timeline of the decision process don’t let that keep YOU from asking for a commitment. Ask, “We expect you to be accepted so if that happens are you feeling like you want to commit to us?” If the acceptance process strings out use that time to your advantage. Make them want you even more by winning them emotionally. I can guarantee, their final decision will not be solely based on logic. It will be where they feel the best, how the players/coaches/faculty treated them, where they feel most comfortable. You can also use your team members to promote relationships along with social media posts that bring you campus to your recruits.
Greg Carroll is a retired athletic director who know services the Northeastern U.S. as Regional Recruiting Coordinator, consulting with coaches to help them develop their strategy for communicating with recruits. To contact Greg, email him at email@example.com.