This is the full transcript of Podcast #49 “The Anatomy Of A Rock Star DOA” hosted by Gregg Meiklejohn, Tom King, and Scott Spitolnick.
Listen to it on demand here.
Gregg: Hi everybody it’s Gregg Meiklejohn with Enrollment Resources, I’m here with my colleagues Scott Spitolnick, Tom King and we are going to talk today about the anatomy of a top-performing DOA, and it’s an often overlooked area, but it’s really crucial to making the admissions department work at top rate, and so I think what we’ll do is respecting people’s time and the early birds, we’ll just start right away. Folks on the call, if you have any questions and you want to put up your hands, you just simply press *6, and that will unmute you, and then you can just wedge into the conversation.
Gregg: That’s part of the charm of doing this way versus a podcast, or a webinar. So you’ve got some smart guys on the call here, so feel free to take advantage of their experience. So let’s get going. The role of an admissions manager is not to grow sales, but to grow their people. So… to me, that seems kind of counter-intuitive to what you read in business books about sales management and what have you. Tom, you want to expand on this?
Tom: Absolutely. Well back several years ago, I think about four or five years ago, Richard Branson, who many of you probably know, the billionaire, he had a great quote that goes, “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.” So it harkens to that a bit when we talk about the sales manager role, and really management overall. It really comes down to training our people well, and up scaling our team.
Tom: If you do those things correctly, then the numbers will take care of themselves. Too many people I think manage to try to hit a target or try to hit the numbers, and they lose sight of what it actually takes to get there. It’s not… whipping the people hard, doesn’t get them to do that. Although they might hit a target once or twice doing that, we really definitely want to… we want to grow our people. I think a lot of what well talk about today really is going to boil down to focusing on growing our people and our processes. If we do that, then growing sales will… growing our sales will be a natural cause and effect of doing that.
Gregg: So you can yell at somebody to fish harder. You can give them or fish, or you can… teach them how to fish. I guess the old trait saying, is that what you’re kind of getting at?
Tom: Yeah. Another great favorite saying of mine is too is that the beatings will continue until morale improves. So…
Gregg: Well okay, the sales manager, which is really… whether you’re not for profit, or proprietary, admissions recruiting is selling. So let’s just call it what it is. Those who are kind of… [inaudible 00:03:33] from that… sorry. You can leave. But the sales manager plays really three key roles, right? They are people managers, they recruit, build, coach as Tom was alluding to. They are… provide resources to the team so that they can succeed or exceed, and they’re business managers. They plan, they adjust, they report, so they’re working the dashboards, and that drives the resources, and the recruiting and the training.
Gregg: So, Scott, let’s go to you, people management. Recruiting, building, coaching a team, you’ve done a lot of training in your day, why don’t you put a little bit of-
Gregg: Color on that comment there.
Scott: I liken it to managing a sports team for any sports fans out there. If you take a look at the manager of a baseball team, the coach of a football team, they’re constantly recruiting, number one. That’s key because that is your backup quarterback or relief pitchers. They’re the ones that make up your team. Unfortunately, and I used to make the same mistake when I was managing teams, we tend to knee jerk react when we’re looking to replace an admissions rep or enrollment coordinator, and I learned pretty fast that recruiting is constant. It could be as simple as just putting a button on your website, you know, join our team and just building up a bank of resumes. Interviewing people periodically.
Scott: So when something does go sideways, you need a rep or whatever, instead of scrambling and putting ads out, and interviewing people, you’ve got that bank that you can build on that you’ve already interviewed people. So recruiting is constant, it doesn’t have to be from the outside. There’s a lot of talent in our schools, in your schools. I know there always was in the schools that I was running and identifying those people early. It may be a great director or first impression that you can get on the phones for 10 hours a week. To set appointments, to learn the system.
Scott: So again, when something does go sideways, you can draw on that person to maybe fulfill the admissions role at the very least, making them a re-enrollment coordinator that can you get you another four, five, 10 students every quarter that may have dropped out, that didn’t start or whatever. So recruiting is constant… yeah.
Gregg: So to that end, resources. You know, you resource the team with people, but what other things must a… sales manager provide in terms of resources? Lead list for marketing? I mean, or good coffee or…
Scott: Yeah, you know, both of those above are… Gregg, and it could be something as simple as providing your team with headsets. I’ve been in schools where they said, “We could be more productive with headsets.” So you spend the 30 or 40 bucks for headsets. You know, on a more complicated level, providing them with the resources such as maybe templates for emails that they’re sending out to the prospective students. So you can standardize those things. Providing them with a good lead management system, or CRM, that they can be alerted to when they need to make follow up calls or touch base with those people.
Scott: It could be something as simple as just having the proof sources around the school. A lot of schools get involved with putting up nice paintings and photographs. Well, that’s not doing anything to sell your school, but if you had the proof sources, testimonials on the walls, in the lobby, things like that. Those are great resources. Something as simple as once every quarter, taking a walk through with the team. Seeing how that school, seeing how your lobby, seeing how your hallways are being presented to those perspective students. That’s a very valuable resource because first impressions are everything.
Gregg: That’s interesting, there’s a little… like Canadian… the term stormtrooper came from the Canadian forces. They would always attack in storms, and… it was just a strategic advantage, but what they had to do is hold the minds of the soldiers, and so what they did was in the First World War, they replaced paper matches with wooden matches, because the wooden matches… so somebody is in a mucky bunker, and they’re trying to smoke to calm their nerves. They would… the paper matches wouldn’t work, so they switched to the wooden ones, and it was this little cause and effect thing.
Gregg: The nerves would calm down, the desertions would greatly reduce. The aggression, the attacking the enemy greatly increased off of one little tiny pivot. They resourced the soldiers with wooden matches, so it’s crazy. So Tom, then the whole thing needs to be essentially managed, and… so there’s this little piece that you’ve come up with. Plan, adjust, report, achieve. You want to put a bit of color on that?
Tom: Sure. It comes down to on the management portion of things. Once you got your team, and they’ve got their resources, being able to put a plan together that… hopefully makes sense, but plan and set, I believe sets higher targets than you believe you can achieve. You can have a fiscal plan, but the actually having a working plan that you have to exceed what that is. So having a plan, and then being able to adjust is a key. So we find that a lot of people just stick to the plan, or they lower the target. In my opinion, that’s probably the worst thing you can do is, “Doesn’t look like we’re going to meet our 50 person start, so let’s… now we’re going to shoot for 45. We just need 45 people now.”
Tom: As opposed to adjusting on the go. “Hey, we still have six weeks to go. How many appointments do we need?” We’re going to talk more about this later on, but how many appointments do we need? How many phone calls have we made? All of that is saying so we can adjust our efforts to hopefully exceed the plan that we have, and then the reporting part is making sure that people are accountable for what they’re doing, and as managers, we… were able to see exactly how we’re progressing and being able to look at those numbers quickly.
Tom: It could be as simple as do you have a simple spreadsheet that you can drop some numbers in on a weekly basis? Or is your CRM robust enough to give you a dashboard of the reports you need? So once you’ve got that plan, and you’re able to now adjust it, or adjust your effort is what I… adjust your work level and then being able to report on those things will help you hopefully achieve those goals, or exceed those goals that we have. So we’ll talk about a lot of that I think as we go through today. [crosstalk 00:11:16]
Gregg: But it’s interesting to me… it’s interesting to me Tom, because, to me, this seems like a no brainer, but I know you’ve told me in the past, you’re constantly amazed, and as [inaudible 00:11:28] the number of schools that don’t do this. Am I right?
Tom: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s stunning with what we… with who we talk to and schools that we work with as to how little planning, reporting can they put their fingers on numbers, and do they know what to do when things are starting to go sideways? Or do they just get sideways and then all of a sudden, you know, we missed our last start or two. Well, it’s a little late when the animals are out of the barn already. We’ve got to be able to adjust when the rain hits, or when the fence breaks, what have you to keep the animals in the pen, and being able to adjust on the fly. Which is really just understanding your business and the numbers around your business, and how to train your people in those specific areas to help them improve.
Tom: You can bring their skills up, this whole thing gets a lot easier.
Gregg: You just slipped in a really nice farming analogy there, and I just wanted to say well done. You know, to the point about numbers, okay, so this is research that you guys landed on. Just recite this and then… holy crow 82% of managers don’t have the time to train their people. Okay, that… 32% of managers’ time is spent on desk-based activities administrivia. 14% of managers spend… time spent with reps or customers, that’s it and 23% of managers time is spent again, on administrative activities.
Gregg: So, what this seems to say is that all that… seminal work where the manager interacts with the performers is just really kind of nudged to the corner of the desk, and to me Tom, this seems crazy. I don’t understand this profile of a workweek for a manager. It… I’m afraid it just doesn’t make sense to me. Can you tell me I’m not crazy?
Tom: The numbers are… they’re stunning. I think when people really think about it, they may make a little bit more sense, but when you see a number like 82% of managers don’t have time to spend their people. You think, oh that’s an astronomical number, but when you really look at the day, I mean how much time as a manager do you spend interacting with your people helping to upscale them? Or improve their skillset versus I got a call, or I’m putting out fires. We hear that… I think we hear that so often. Managers are just firefighters in many situations where there’s this fire, oh it’s been crazy today. I can’t make the call, I have to cancel this because I can’t get everything done.
Tom: It’s just simply the priorities I think are maybe in the wrong areas, or we don’t have a really good process or plan in place that makes it easy enough for us to spend time where it really matters, and another option here too is because managers don’t have the time to spend with their people, and they’ve got so many admin reports and activities, and meetings, and people wearing multiple hats, look outside the organization for training. What I’ll think we’ll talk about that later on too is if you want to help upscale your people, and you don’t have the time because you got 14 hats on. In many schools that we deal with, they don’t even have a DOA.
Tom: So the campus manager that’s handling that and all the other things, look to get some help in these areas where you’re lacking and watch your productivity increase.
Gregg: Okay, okay that makes more sense. So what we’re going to do now is we’re going to share… eight tips, and these are tips that could create more efficiency for a DOA, which then will help them unleash their power. We have pages of notes and a PowerPoint deck that people can ask for if they want at the end to do some internal education. That’s up to you guys, but what we’ll do is give you an overview of these eight tips. So I’m just going to give a 30,000-foot overview on what they are, and then we’re going to spin back and dive each of them for a few minutes each.
Gregg: So first one is to understand your KPI’s. Your Key Performance Indicators and not waste time on things that don’t mean anything. It’s setting up a bulletproof sales system. That is actually different than what we might think about what that means. Having the ability to hold reps accountable through daily and weekly rep reporting. Rep report summaries, scrub meetings. Some of you may never have heard that term. Starts planning an adjustment tool, which is what Tom spoke to about planning and adjusting on the fly. There’s… we’ll go deeper on that, and really how a professional meeting should look to really kickstart the performance of the reps.
Gregg: So, Scott, let’s start with you in terms of key performance indicators, or what are called KPI’s, and KPI’s are used traditionally in corporate executive planning. Yet, what you’re suggesting and Tom is suggesting is that you could take the KPI discipline and drop it into admissions. And… use it effectively in that area, so that seems like an interesting side test. Why don’t you speak to it, and then Tom, you can give an example or two if you’d like. Go ahead, Scott.
Scott: Yeah, I’ll keep it brief because I know we have a lot of material. But yeah, KPI’s to me, that’s the most… those are the most important metrics of your school, because not only does it show you… it can help you manage by the numbers, but it also shows you areas where you process, and your people have challenges. For example, lead contact rate. It’s an important KPI, if you’ve got 100 inquiries and you’re only contacting 20 or 30% of your inquiries, well what can that show you?
Scott: That can show you that you process or your systems may be lacking. Maybe there’s a need for a lead managing system, of which there are several out there. That can autodial for you. Can tag the leads that need to be called, and that will double, triple your contact rate in some cases.
Gregg: So what you’re… so what you’re saying then is that you can… use KPI’s when they’re out of whack. If they’re yellow or red, you can use that as a signal to… what we do at Enrollment Resources, split test and try something new. So I’ll give a quick example. If your contact rates are low, you can split test the phone messages being left. Pretend the phone message is a radio ad, with one person listening. Then through trial and error, you can leave different types of radio ads, and you can incrementally improve that five or 10%.
Gregg: You can take that from 20 to 25 or 20 to 30%. So let’s say 4% if somebody’s making 40 [inaudible 00:19:15] calls a day, that’s 800 a month we’ll call it. If you can create a 5% improvement by just using that silly testing example, I just shared, that’s 40 additional meaningful conversations. That’s four to six additional students a month if my math is correct. Which is… yeah. 50, 60 additional students a year.
Scott: Yeah, and it ties back to well. How many… I’m not a big proponent of counting the dials that my reps were making, but… like you just said Gregg, in an hour if a rep can make 15 calls manually dialing, if you have the technology, what if they could dial 40, 50, or 60 in that same period of time. Well, more dials will probably mean more contact. So that KPI can really pinpoint shortcomings in that process. Just like the appointments or set rate, whit your reps.
Scott: If a rep is getting a hold of a lot of people, but they’re not setting the appointments, well what does that tell you? They have some challenges with their phone dialogue. They may not even have a phone dialogue or a script. So again, that really, really pinpoints a shortcoming in that process as well, you know? Again, down the line appointment show rate can pinpoint whether a rep is having a problem with setting the appointments and boom, down the line without the laboring meet point, the show rate. They may have a challenge, so it gives the manager, gives the director of admissions really a roadmap in how they need to train that particular rep.
Scott: Each rep may have a different KPI that you can look at to see where their challenges are. You may have a rep-
Gregg: So Tom, then really it’s a matter of… rather than trying to go, and micromanage everything within a rep, and killing the relationship along the way, is to really just have little… a few little key things to… as a manager, you focus on, am I right? Tom? Tom? Tom’s jumped off.
Tom: You just can’t… sorry. So you just can’t try to train them on multiple things at one time. We want to pick and choose those areas where maybe either the low hanging fruit exists, or that rep is having the most issues. You can look at these KPI’s from a high level, as an overall college. You can break it down by campus, and then you can break it down by rep. You might adjust your training based upon which areas, and which people are falling below your averages, or not hitting your numbers.
Tom: I know Scott brought it up, having scripts or process or something like that and these are… the KPI’s too that at Enrollment Resources, we really hold dear when it comes to our scorecard process with you, because this is where I think it all began, but people kind of fight a little bit against scripts, and I think we’ll talk about that some more. It’s impossible to split test when you all are doing something different. It’s hard to really find out why is Gregg… can I help improve Gregg’s script? Well, he does something completely different than Scott, who does something completely different than Tom, how can we ever implement any changes or split test, when we don’t have a control to begin with? And we’re all over the map. So-
Tom: [crosstalk 00:23:02] and their weaknesses.
Gregg: Yeah. So in direct response marketing, the existing tactic being used is referred to as a control their folks. And then the game is to beat the control through trial and error, or what’s called split testing. Then the best thing to do is when you’re using your key performance indicators, when something starts flashing red, with a particular rep, then you manage process, not people. That takes us to our next little key topic. Managing process, not people, setting up a bulletproof sale system.
Gregg: So that’s an interesting notion. Manage process, not people Tom. Why don’t you take it away?
Tom: Sure. I think when it comes to setting up a really great structure for your organization, you first look at what people do you have in the right positions and place. We spend a lot of time with our clients and trying to come up with what is the best way to structure your organization for A, scalability, growth, and improvement process. We really found that separating appointment setting from the actual admissions reps and then also by potentially having a future student coordinator, or admin person on the backend to allow the followup, and finish up paperwork and things like that. So that it keeps everybody doing what they’re great at. Rather [crosstalk 00:24:36]
Gregg: Whoa, whoa, whoa. So you’re saying to take that… most schools will say you dial, dial, dial, you get an appointment and then… but you’re saying you want to actually separate that function of setting up the meetings. I guess what really what you’re getting at is you can’t be good at everything, hey?
Tom: Can’t be good at everything, and we want to let people… we want to put people in positions where they can succeed. Some people are great face to face Gregg, and some people are just terrible on the phone. Or some people can be good on the phone, but they just hate it. I know one of those people very well. So they can… we want to put people in a position where not only can they succeed, but they enjoy what they’re doing, and they can be good at it and exceed and excel.
Tom: Separating appointment setting is from the rest of admissions, is absolutely in my opinion, the absolute way to go these days to a lot of your school to grow and scale it… and be more efficient and effective.
Gregg: Now do you recommend it in house appointment setters, Tom? Or what’s your feeling on keeping that in house versus farming it out?
Tom: I believe you can go either direction. Either in-house or outsource it. The problem with outsourcing it is that you A, may lose a little control unless you can find… there’s been very few, really good appointment setting companies out there. We’ve landed on one or two. They’ve done a phenomenal job for our school, but… or for our clients and schools, but also… but bringing it in house and doing it, we’ve found some schools that have tried to do that, and they struggle, because they just don’t have the technology and the training and the knowledge to hire, maintain, train, and manage these people.
Tom: It’s a different skillset, and not everybody’s comfortable doing that. So some schools have struggled with it and found out outsourcing it works best because it’s just too much for them to handle. So it can go either direction, and it really is based on that school, and the ability they have to train their people.
Gregg: Interesting. So… people and processes, you manage the process… and what happens if an admissions rep will not follow the best practice process? I know in our shop, we give our team the green light to test things mostly. So… but I guess there are some obstinate know it all folks that just go, “Nope, sorry.” So if there’s a power struggle between a best practice of the school and a rep, how’s that play out?
Tom: I’ll jump in on this one real quick too. We just have a… we just have a webinar on these types of things not so long ago, where what’s the best practice in hiring people, and what are the traits of a rockstar rep? I think… two of the top traits are number one, having a learning mindset, which means they want to learn, grow, and expand constantly. Number two, really look for someone that will follow a process. If you’re bringing people who think they know it all, and they have all this great experience, most likely they’re not going to follow your process, or be open to following that process.
Tom: That’s absolutely in my opinion, critical, if you have a process, even sometimes a poor process, not a bad process, but a poor process that’s followed to the letter is more effective than no process that sometimes hits home runs and does great job for a while, but over the long haul, will not perform as well as having stability and a process built-in. That you can hone and constantly improve and tweak, according to some of those lien management methodologies that we’ve talked about.
Gregg: Okay. Interesting so Scott, along those lines, we’ve heard that term starts plan before. Really, it’s all about… with a starts plan, it’s about reverse engineering I guess is what you might say.
Gregg: Why don’t you touch on starts plan?
Scott: Yeah, I think we’re all guilty of before the start, we sit each rep down, give them a number. Let’s say… and I deal with school [inaudible 00:29:24] charts every quarter, every 12 weeks or so. But we sit the rep down, and we look at them and say, “Tom, I need 30 starts from you. Go out and get them.” Boom, Tom’s eyes roll in the back of his head, he walks out of there shellshocked.
Scott: Really, we need a plan. The plan is so simple, and we’d be glad to share it with you sometime after the call or whatever, but breaking it down in small bites. Yeah, you could give a number of let’s say 30 starts, but showing your team how they can hit that. For example, 12 weeks to the start, that’s approximately… I always called it the rule of five, four, three, which may not be new to a lot of the people, but 12 weeks to start I’m asking my rep, “Can you set three appointments day? That’s five days in the week. Can you set three… I don’t care where you get them from. Referrals, PDI’s, new leads, old leads.” 15 a week, 12 weeks. That’s 180 appointments. That… out of the 180, let’s say 40% of them show up for their appointments, that’s 80 shows. 40 to 50%, let’s say 45% of them are going to enroll. That gives you about 36 enrollments. 90% show rate of their package. Boom, there’s your 30 starts.
Scott: But it all starts with the number of appointments that are… [inaudible 00:30:55] if you tell a rep, “I need 30 starts.” Or if you approach it at, “Hey, can you set three appointments a day?” In an eight hour day or a nine-hour day, they’re going to say, “Yeah, that’s pretty easy.” Then you give them the roadmap of sending three appointments, four appointments whatever. We’ll do to bring them to that 30 starts, and you know what? They walk out saying, “Wow, I can do that.” [crosstalk 00:31:23] in small bites makes it a whole lot more palatable. Yeah.
Gregg: And then to that end, you just take that very simple activity and Tom, you run a daily, weekly rep reports. Are your reps doing those three meetings a day, or those three reach outs day? Whatever that simple KPI is, is that kind of how that rep report might look?
Scott: You may have lost Tom.
Gregg: [crosstalk 00:31:57]
Scott: I’ll take it. It’s winning the day. So not looking week to week, 12 weeks down the start, we’re looking at it on a day to day basis. At the end of the day, if they set three appointments or four appointments. Hey, you just won that day. If they don’t, then tomorrow hey, you need to set four appointments. And they really, really will warm up to that, because in an eight hour day, you should be able to set three appointments a day. If anybody on the phone disagrees, certainly we can talk about it. But by breaking it into small pieces like that, just makes it a lot easier for them to see the endgame 12 weeks down the line.
Gregg: Then I guess you pull all that information together on a weekly basis, and that creates a KPI, if you will, as to whether you’re… because if you’re meeting that core rep at the front of the funnel, your odds are really high that you’re going to nail your intake. Is really… yeah. Okay.
Scott: At the end of the week at the meeting, you break it down rep by rep as a team. You know, if the goal is 100 starts, you break it down for the team. How many appointments need to be set each day for the team to get to that all-encompassing goal.
Gregg: Yeah. Absolutely.
Tom: Let me just jump in real quick, because I think we skipped ahead a little bit to the adjustments piece. Just on the planning side too, when you’re planning, have a starts plan that makes sense. Look at your target enrollment, many times people are just setting a plan for “Hey, we want to beat last year,” or “We want a 10%,” I don’t know where the numbers come from but pick a target that you want to hit for starts, and then understand your conversion rates and work backward to figure out exactly how many enrollments do I need?
Tom: Scott mentioned it, which we’ll get into it later… we kind of already hit it on the adjustments plan, but understanding exactly how to set that plan, and then having your reps filling out weekly reports so they understand their numbers, and then you can understand exactly where they are on things. So that you can best help them. The numbers aren’t there so that again, we can browbeat people about why they’re not hitting numbers.
Tom: The numbers are there so that we can adequately and accurately figure out how we’re going to train. Even though 82% of you aren’t going to do any training with your people, but hopefully after this, you’ll adjust that percentage. But we use those reports and those numbers to find out exactly where we’re falling down so that we can put daily and weekly training into place to upscale our staff to be able to hit those numbers that we’ve established, and that we use on those adjustment plans as well.
Gregg: okay. So now how does the… Tom, how does the scrub meeting fit into all this? Explain the scrub meeting.
Tom: Yeah, so typically the scrub meeting, as I referred to it and Scott, I think this is a term that we’ve used for many, many years. It’s essentially scrubbing our enrollment list to make sure that we’ve got an accurate depiction of who’s going to be starting for the next several starts. We’re going to have… hopefully, you’re going to have a weekly meeting depending on how soon that starts going to be and may have involved admissions, financial aid, the registrar, any other directors that may be involved in that enrollment process going student by student. Where are they on their financial aid? Have they done house if you have housing? Have they attended orientation? Have they paid their fees? Do we have their transcripts?
Tom: Having a checklist for every single student, and then also understanding when we get to Sally Smith, and she’s missing this. Whose responsibility is that? Whose talked to her last? Have you talked to her? No. Has the rep talked to her? No. Financial aid hasn’t heard from her, so she’s MIA. What are we doing about this? She’s on our roster to potentially start here in two weeks, and we haven’t heard from her in two weeks, and she’s still missing pieces. Or even though she has everything, we’ve got a director that’s giving a call, we’ve reached out by email just to touch base, and she hasn’t returned any calls.
Tom: Even though she looks like she’s all set and the reps all happy, I’ve got a start, it’s going to be great. We’ve got 25 out of 25 students, and then on start day 20 people show up, and you want to know where those five went. Well, it’s because you probably didn’t scrub on a fairly weekly basis to find out is everybody solid. Is everything progressing? And if there’s anybody that’s a red flag, that we follow up on them.
Gregg: Yeah. It also allows the different department to take ownership of the start, and not just admissions as well. So everybody buys into it. Financial aid, the directors, career services, and that’s so important also to share in the success of the start as well. It’s a great example, you had brought it up a little bit before Tom. Those students should be contacted at least one a week before the start, even if it’s just an article emailed to them from the rep. “Hey Tom, I was thinking about you. Check this article out. Medical assistant jobs are going to increase by 20%.”
Gregg: So just having a process of keeping that well… keeping that pumped primed on a week to week basis. Also, emails from the director of ed, from the president of the school. A lot of schools do it, but an awful lot don’t do it. Just welcoming that student aboard as well. I just want to throw that in, the importance of keeping that pump primed before the start.
Tom: So really, another way to say it is that many schools lack the sufficient communication a loop once they’ve been packaged to… I guess that is the by-product improving the accepted rate to start rate, you know? By just staying connected.
Gregg: That’s right.
Gregg: Orientation comes along, we wonder where those eight students are. Well, they haven’t been contacted in two weeks, for two and a half weeks and then we wonder where they are. So yeah.
Tom: Yeah. Elsewhere with a competitive.
Scott: My extra two sense on this too is that people make decisions based on the emotional connection that they make. People buy based on emotion. People enroll in the school based on the need to improve themselves, self-improvement. They’ve made an emotional connection with themselves and their own why. “I’ve got to do this so I can change my life and change my stance. They’re motivated. People’s motivation drops on a daily basis, from the day that they enroll to the day they graduate. It’s a constant fight from the school to keep that motivation level high and help them see the final picture.
Scott: That starts as soon as they enroll, up to the day they start and then it’s got to continue to the day they graduate, so that we can create advocates and hopefully additional referrals for our school, but create these advocates that graduate.
Gregg: Okay. Now we have… a starts planning and adjustment tool that we’re going to give to people as a gift. If they want to grab it, they can just contact 250-391-9494. Or they can just contact Scott at [email protected], and we’ve got just a bunch of goodies, little templates, and whatnot that you folks can use if you’re interested. So that is a device that’s designed to go and build a relationship after this conference call. So that’s a shameless just explanation of why we do that. Plus, the information will help you gain some clarity around the talk we’ve given, so it will have some value to you.
Gregg: So being respectful of people’s timelines, before we leave, does anybody want to press *6 and ask Tom or Scott a question? Any question of admissions management is fair game, and… but you might all have things that you’ve got to take away, and you might be fun. Anybody have questions? *6.
Leon: Yeah, this is Leon in admissions here in Chicago, Illinois Media School. So in the event that the directors position is a writing directors position, in seeing the amount of time there’s needed to manage your process, do you think it’s really realistic to… also be able to perform or outperform your reps while managing all the different aspects of the business to get them to perform and supersede their goals as well?
Gregg: Well, who wants to grab that? That’s a good question.
Scott: That’s a great question.
Tom: I’ll jump on that. That is a great question, and we see that a lot. Especially with most… a lot of smaller schools. I think you have to prioritize what your targets are, you plan to determine your staffing levels, and if you determine that one of my reps is going to take that lead role, and is going to be a DOA, that’s also writing on that. You have to be realistic in the expectations of what you’re expecting. Certainly I’m not going to expect that a writing DOA is going to exceed the results of the reps.
Tom: Well, how do I set a good example if they have higher numbers than me? Again, I’m going to go back to training the people that you have around you, including yourself, to become greater and more highly skilled at what you do. It’s not necessarily going to be the volume and the numbers you achieve, it’s going to be the consistency and the efficiency that you can do it at. [crosstalk 00:42:46]
Gregg: There is one person lower… sorry, Tom, what? I have another thing to add but continue.
Tom: So it’s just a matter of understanding the numbers and the volume that you have. Setting the right expectations for yourself and others with that, but also setting the example from an efficiency standpoint that you can at least match or hit those actual conversion rates at a high level. But train your team is really going to be the key.
Gregg: The only thing I’d add Tom is that the most, maybe the most important person you need to train is your boss. If your boss has expectations or the owner has expectations that are just out to lunch, I think it’s important to lay the math out and look at your… expectations are out of line given the resources. If you want me to be managing other reps plus be a top producer, 20% of my time will be repping. So you have to go and align that in your expectations.
Gregg: Yeah. Train your boss.
Scott: Yeah, and that’s where the… Leon, that’s where the KPI’s are important because if your reps are expected to get say three enrollments a week, and you’re expected to get one or two, analyzing the KPI. If you’re meeting or exceeding the conversion rates and the other KPI’s of the other reps on top of all the other duties, well that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re handling the admissions duties as well as the management duties as well. So that’s where the KPI’s are important in your position as well. Seeing what your own KPI’s are versus the rest of the team.
Gregg: The other piece to that Scott is ethics in admissions. If the expectations from the top are unrealistic and that burden is placed in the lap of the admission reps, they may have to make an ethical choice, I.e., do I quit this is unreasonable? Or do I lie? Do I soft-pedal or over-promote my school for a prospective student even though in my heart of hearts, I know it’s not the correct fit for the student. Other words, do I jam a few students in to hit my numbers? Do I compromise my ethics because some goofball owner is just greedy, and they don’t have the [inaudible 00:45:32] to properly analyze their business.
Gregg: That’s not too harsh, I hope.
Scott: No, but again, it comes down to KPI’s. If somebody is jamming in students that aren’t qualified or doesn’t have a chance of making it, that student’s going to be a drop. So again that’s another… that we always look at. A rep may start 50 students, but if 30 aren’t starting or dropping out, that’s just another important KPI that something is wrong with that whole process. So that’s [crosstalk 00:46:07]
Gregg: Students down turd river there for the poor… delivers of the education have to deal with. We have time for one more question.
Speaker 5: Do you guys hear me?
Speaker 5: Okay. So I have two questions so far. So Dan is asking I think it was while Tom was talking about appointments, what do you consider an appointment? So what really goes into that metric?
Gregg: I’ll speak to that first, this is Gregg. I strongly believe that an appointment needs to be synchronous in nature versus asynchronous. So an email or a text is asynchronous. A phone call or a meeting is synchronous, and you need synchronous exchange because the nature of what is being sold is a large ticket and tangible purpose, and study after study shows that a large ticket and tangible purchase needs synchronous guidance for a big part of the process. That would be my little two bits on what goes into that metric. You guys, do you think that I’m off on that? Or… not many people buy $50,000 education off of email.
Tom: [crosstalk 00:47:35] from the standpoint of what is an appointment, that is hopefully either a face to face or if you’re online, a phone-based or web-based meeting with someone. But to me, a big key and I’ve been running into this a lot lately is well, should they be qualified? How qualified should they be? If somebody has a remote interest in your product, and they’ve requested information, then they should be… you should be looking to set an appointment with them.
Tom: They do not have to be completely prequalified. Well they don’t meet our hours, or they don’t have the money, or they don’t look right, or they have a schedule that looks difficult, or they have personal issues that are preventing them, all of those things need to be explored when the person comes in. We simply want someone open and willing to explore the possibilities of this career. We don’t want to… close anyone off and be so extreme, “Well, they’re just never going to fit into our culture.” You don’t know that until you meet with them.
Tom: So you need to open and willing to talk to those people in person, or on a phone base or online webinar meeting of anyone who at least has an interest in exploring what the opportunities and possibilities may be. Then we can qualify them in or out to a great qualification process, but maybe they’ll become motivated enough to change their job, their current schedules, it happens all the time. Too many people just X out people because they don’t… they’re not a perfect fit.
Tom: If you want a perfect fit, you don’t need admissions people. You just need order takers.
Gregg: Very good. Okay.
Larry: Could I sneak in a question?
Larry: Is it too late for a question?
Gregg: No, go ahead.
Larry: Oh, well thanks. We’re a small cosmetology school, I’m hiring our first admissions person, and I’m really in a jam. When you talk about all these metrics and the reporting and everything, I’m really in a jam as to which CRM to get. We’re using Sales Force right now, but once we get all the modules to really equip it, it’s just ridiculously expensive. So I was just wondering if you… if people that have some recommendations that’s going to give us reporting, and give the use [crosstalk 00:49:57] so the admissions person can clearly visualize the pipeline and all of that stuff still gets reporting that’s just not ridiculously expensive.
Gregg: We use Copper in our company, which is a generic one. Which is quite good in that regard. But Tom, there a couple of companies… I’m trying to think of [crosstalk 00:50:21] that are just express. Like Louis, this chap doesn’t need a big purchase, he just needs a virile express product.
Tom: There’s three good ones. Ideally, Gregg, I don’t know if you want me to give them out over the air, or if you want to just do it on a separate email, I’ll be more than happy to email you, or make some introductions with a few companies for you. You need to choose what’s best for you.
Larry: Yeah. Okay.
Tom: So we can give you [crosstalk 00:50:51]
Larry: Narrow the field for me.
Scott: Yeah, Larry, I was going to give you…
Tom: An enrollment [crosstalk 00:50:58] I’ll send you some info.
Gregg: Hold on, guys. Stop. Just a sec guys. Scott, you had a comment?
Scott: Yeah, no. I recognize Larry’s voice, and I owe you a phone call. I was going to call you tomorrow as a matter of fact.
Larry: Oh, cool.
Scott: I can get you those. I think I may have sent you a few a couple of weeks ago, but we can talk about it tomorrow.
Larry: Yeah. I… okay that would be great, because yeah. Okay, that would be great. I mean, I was hoping to get everybody’s collective wisdom that’s just dealt with different smaller schools and see what really works for them, but yeah definitely. Yeah, that would be great Scott.
Gregg: All right gents. Any other questions from the gang? We’ve had over 250 people on the call. So I think a number of people have probably hung up, but if anybody has a final question, we’re happy to answer.
Speaker 5: I have another one [crosstalk 00:51:54]
Speaker 5: Oh, it’s okay. Mine can wait.
Gregg: No, no. We’ll have you go first ma’am, and then the gentleman can go after you.
Speaker 5: So, what is the current percentage of rates of schools for enrollment to start? So is there sort of a benchmark? Is there something people should be working towards?
Gregg: Tom, you want a crack at that?
Tom: From enrollment to start?
Speaker 5: Conversion rate for schools for enrollment to start.
Tom: Okay. So not inquiry, but from enrollment. From enrollment to start, depending on your process, typically you’re going to see about a 56 to 60% of the enrolled students will end up starting. Overall, you’ll see about 60% get through and become accepted and get packaged, and about 90% of those should start. So you’re looking somewhere around that 56%. From enrolled to start, depending on where your financial aid process lies in that mix, but it can vary based upon heavy high school population, distance, international students.
Gregg: The other piece is your intake you’re enrolling. If you have a rolling intake… modularized rolling intake then your ratio goes up. If you’re a K through 12 school where you have typically a major intake in September goes down somewhat, so that’s another factor as well. What we can do for you ma’am is we’ll get… on the phone with you, and we’ll analyze what you exactly have, and then we can give you a best-practice to pursue. That might be the best way. It’s a bit… the answers are a little… wishy-washy and best to give you exactly what you need.
Gregg: So we’ll just… tell me your school again? Or your name.
Speaker 5: Gregg, I’m not sure what school she was from, but I do have her information we can follow up.
Gregg: Okay, cool. Then we’ll help her do a better job than the device of a phone call. There was a gentleman who had a question.
Larry: Yeah sorry, it’s me again, but… this is Larry again.
Gregg: Hey, Larry.
Larry: You answered the question before about what constitutes an appointment, and I was wonder before what actually constitutes a contact, as opposed to an appointment?
Gregg: You mean in terms of the leads that are getting fed into the admission stream?
Larry: Yes. For the lead contact rate KPI. So… because… yeah. So it would be the synchronous, not the asynchronous again. You would have a text exchange, or a voice exchange, or some kind of personal exchange with a person to be [crosstalk 00:55:04]
Gregg: I’ll take this guys. With a digital lead, the low… kind of crummy average is kind of 15 to 20%. If there’s 100 leads, 15 to 20 of those turn into phone calls, and then those are typically converting somewhere in around 15 to 20%. So the game is to have a higher percentage of people that you can actually get on the phone. We have software that does that. That can help to lift the contact rate significantly, and that might be something you might want to look at.
Gregg: The other thing you can use is speed to lead software. So you treat the digital lead as if it’s a phone call that’s on hold, and that’s another interesting way to do it. But the speed to lead is a crucial thing, or creating value in the marketing part of the process so that the prospective student says, “Hey, I want to meet with a rep Tuesday afternoon on this day.” That’s another way to do it as well. So, does that answer your question a little bit?
Larry: Yeah, I think so. But more… I mean… even more basic than that. I was just wondering under the lead/ contact rate, the lead to contact rate I guess. So you get a lead that comes in via your form on your website or whatever, and then so what constitutes a successful contact? Is that… somebody answering you back by email or something? Or [crosstalk 00:56:50]
Gregg: No. No, that’s getting someone on the phone.
Larry: Okay. Okay.
Gregg: Yeah. It would be [crosstalk 00:56:57] to me, it would be a two-way conversation.
Gregg: It can be phone. It technically could also be text or chat, but it would at least be a two-way conversation where you’re able to converse to an extent. At least show that you’ve made contact and they responded.
Tom: The issue with text… oh, there’s a Harley going by my office. The issue with text is that you can be texting and then they go dark on you, and there’s nothing. Whereas when you’re on the phone with somebody, you can engage and you can… get connected more at an emotional level, and you can get connected at more of an empathetic level.
Tom: I think that’s where the… that’s not necessarily the contact rate, but that would be the appointment setting part would come in… yeah, you would want a two-way conversation via phone so that you could make those emotional connections. That’s what’s going to determine your appointment setting rate. But my times we start… it may start with text or chat, but we have to move them to the phone.
Gregg: Think of text as a little rickety bridge between the digital lead that comes in and a human being on the other side waiting, and you can go out the rickety bridge to help the person across, and that could be texting, or… but most of these leads just fall down into the gorge, into the chasm or marketing purgatory and it’s not good.
Larry: That’s pretty true. Right.
Gregg: Yeah. Okay. Thanks, Larry.
Gregg: Any other questions before we leave? I think we might be done. So everybody thank you so much, we’ll be available to send you the more detailed information on this talk we did today, and Scott and Tom, Tom this has been primarily your information that you’ve packaged together. Scott kind of hovered over it and sprinkled water on it, and gave it his blessing and you guys are awesome. Thanks so much for helping people today in this short time.
Tom: Thank you, and thanks for attending everybody.
Gregg: Okay. Take care everyone. Go out and have fun. Cheers.
Scott: Thanks, guys.
Tom: So long.