by Greg Carroll, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
I will be the first to admit that as individual skill sets go, I’m not a great cook. Cooking has simply never been something I took time to learn or ever worried too much about. Sandwiches, frozen pizza, and lots of pasta have been staples from my college days through adulthood when at various times I’ve left the comfortable confines of home and my wife Maureen’s wonderful culinary skills.
Recently, while flying solo at home, I tried to make some brownies. The recipe had just three ingredients beside the brownie mix; an egg, some water, and some cooking oil. I blew it. I forgot to add the cooking oil. The brownies were like bricks. Straight to the trash.
That’s a long way into a call I had with a coach earlier this week as she was sharing her frustration about the lack of responses she was getting from her recruits, probably the number one recruiting frustration. It reminded me of my brownie experience in that there really is a recipe for success and if you leave out even one ingredient, you’ll have bricks instead of brownies.
As we started to break things down we identified several things that were having a negative impact on her response rate.
First and foremost, she had unrealistic expectations. About 80 percent of the names she was recruiting were coming from recruiting service lists. Recruiting services are an invaluable resource for many coaching staffs but they simply cannot be your lifeline. The returns are way too small! Yet, many coaches put as much energy into recruiting those names as they do the recruit they identified at a tournament or the prospect who submits an online questionnaire or even the rock star who falls in your lap from the admissions office. My advice was to take a look at her past three rosters to see where her commitments came from. Were they referrals from admissions, were they athletes she identified, were they recruiting service leads, did they come from questionnaire submissions? Wherever they came from they represent the seeds she should be putting your energy into sowing.
“But, what if those are the commitments I’m getting but we’re not making competitive improvements?”
If that’s the case you have to regroup. There’s no shortcut to successful recruiting. By far your best results come from those recruits YOU have identified. That’s the start to building a relationship, telling them what you like about them and how you can make them better and what a great opportunity you have for them as part of your team. But that requires hard work. Some coaches love getting out there and others really struggle to find ways to identify. Recruiting is just like training. To get better, you have to get uncomfortable! If you value your job then you have to find a way to get comfortable “getting out there”. I usually see this with either young coaches who have not yet gained confidence as a recruiter or senior coaches who have surrendered recruiting to their assistants (who have not yet gained confidence ….)
Tied to this misstep, this coach was also relying on mass messaging. Everything going out was through email. So she was mass emailing a huge database consisting primarily of recruiting service names. I was not surprised her returns were so poor. When we work with a client we talk a great deal about “the setup” or those things that increase your chances of getting a response. Part of that is a well crafted introduction and Tudor Collegiate Strategies has a ton of articles on our blog about those “ingredients.” It’s also what sits in front of the email. A 2021 TCS survey found the preferred method of introduction was an initial text:
Hey Greg, this is Coach Carroll from Tudor University. I just saw you at the Syracuse Showcase! Great job! Would you have time for a call tonight?”
So, hopefully you get a green light for the call at which time you lay the foundation for communicating with them next in an email where you go over the points on the call in more detail and tell them in writing that “they are now an official recruit”. Within a couple days, you have now communicated with that recruit across three different platforms (a text, a call, and an email).
The final ingredient to the recruiting recipe I’ll mention here is personalization. This will be next week’s article. But in short you have to take a personal approach to your recruits. You have to engage with their parents and earn their trust. They have been driving their kids’ athletic experiences (even coaching them) forever so passing the torch is hard so you need to establish their trust. The same thing with your team. The recruit needs to know they will fit in with your current athletes. I’ll explain more NEXT WEEK
To summarize, good recruiting requires doing it all correctly. From your identification to your approach to messaging, to making your recruits know that they are making a great choice by choosing you. If you are not doing everything correctly some other coach (who’s likely a TCS client) is!
Need help perfecting your recruiting recipe? Greg Carroll and the experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies have over 15 years of experience in helping coaches develop winning strategies. You can email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a strategy call.