by Greg Carroll, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
After an absolutely crazy month of coast to coast travel visiting client departments and programs, I thought last week presented a window of opportunity to take a few days of downtime. Not completely off from working with clients but a little less scheduled. My wife and I headed south to our happy place for a few days at a beach resort.
After enjoying a few days of relaxation and taking advantage of the many amenities the resort offered we checked out and were back on the road heading home and back to the familiar surroundings of home and the schedules of our typical daily routine.
But even before we landed in the driveway we received an email from the resort we had stayed at asking us about our stay. They wanted to know what programs we participated in (my wife loves the water aerobics. Me, not so much but I took full advantage of the fitness center!) They also wanted to know if we ate at the restaurant and if so were we satisfied. How did we like our room? Were the customer staff friendly and helpful? There were several other questions, all related to our overall satisfaction with our experience.
It’s painfully obvious that if your goal is formative improvement, whether in terms of the athletic experiences you are offering your athletes, the feeling your athletes had about their overall recruiting experience, or how they feel about your campus and institution, asking questions tied to outcomes is the logical place to start. That’s precisely what we do at Tudor Collegiate Strategies when we onboard a department or client to our Total Recruiting Solution program.
One of the audiences often forgotten in this process is the recruit who chose some other program or school. In conversation with many of my client coaches it is clear that most coaches are quick to walk away from those individuals when in fact they are precisely the individuals we should be talking with at the appropriate time.
What do I mean about the appropriate time? Well, the appropriate time would not be as they are telling you they selected another program. It is very hard for an 18/19 year old to tell the person who has been telling them how terrific they are for the past 10 months that they have decided to go somewhere else. This is the time to take the high road, celebrate having made a decision with them, applaud them for the manner they and their family handled the process but set the stage for asking permission to talk again in a few weeks to talk about their experiences with you, your staff, your athletes, and other stakeholders in the recruiting process (admissions staff, faculty, financial aid, residence life, etc.) You want to choose your questions carefully and not go too deeply into the weeds. The key is to open with questions they will want to respond to. You want to get them talking and once they’re talking move toward some of the heavier questions so prioritize them and do not offer questions they can answer simply yes or no unless you’re prepared to ask follow up questions like “tell me more about that,” or “can you give me an example,” or “I don’t understand. Can you tell me more?”
Potential questions you might consider asking could be the following:
- What were some of the things you really liked about our program and our school?
- What were some of the things that made you uncomfortable about our program and/or school?
- Can you describe attributes of the school you chose that you found really attractive?
- What was it about the recruiting process at the school you chose that made you want to go there?
- If you could change one thing about the way we recruited you what would it be?
- As you were thinking about the school/program you were going to choose, what were your three highest priorities?
- Is there anything I haven’t asked about that you would like to talk about?
We all know some of your recruits will engage minimally and some not at all. But others will offer terrific feedback that should be gathered and evaluated.
In addition to the recruits I also encourage coaches to talk to the parents. Just like they did during the recruiting process, most of your parents want to be involved (despite their telling you that the decision is entirely up to their child which we know is not true!) seeking ways to be involved, and very willing to express their feelings and thoughts. The same questions you ask their son or daughter work for the parent.
In many ways the recruits you don’t get can offer as much if not more meaningful insight than those athletes who you will see in your next recruiting class. Not making a meaningful attempt to collect their insight is a mistake easily avoided that could be transformational in terms of your ability to get the next level of recruits that will lead to your next championship.
Want help analyzing your recruiting process to see what is working and what needs to improve? Email Greg Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a strategy call.