Managing admissions performance is not for the weak at heart

For a long time now I have managed admissions performance. I have managed it at the admissions level and at the school manager level. They are both hard.

On one hand managing admissions performance is a bit easier with admissions people. But today admissions has fallen out of the hands of just the admissions representative. Today, and for real this time, everyone needs to be a functional part of the start and sales effort.

If I had to guess the difference, I would say it is two things: (1) too many schools tripping over each other; (2) the Internet leads.

So, here is my thinking about it.

The little guy is going to get hammered by Goliath. They really aren’t any better at the sales part, but they are killers when it comes to generating leads. And, in any market, there are only going to be so many people that want to even consider going to school. While they are running a trillion new commercials a day, buying a ton of direct mail and spending millions of dollars buying Internet leads, the trolling they do will net a lead that may have come to you, if they knew who you were!

I am not a big fan of just rolling over and letting this happen. I had it happen to me, having a little school and letting it lose its life because we reacted too slow to the marketing and sales issues. For a while I just went on my merry way working for a Goliath and watched as my little David just got eaten up. In hindsight, I am way too good of an admissions guy to have let that happen to a friend.

Be that as it may, here is the plan. The weak at heart don’t bother to read. You are too busy worrying about the push back you may get, and you may be too weak to do it, too. Let admissions do it, it’s their job, right?

For the rest of you, pull yourself up and save what you have worked for or sell it. But don’t let it die because you failed to really try harder. Here are 18 ideas for you to use:

  1. Fire everyone who doesn’t like students.
  2. Fire the receptionist if he or she has an attitude or really hates the job and doesn’t have the personality for it.
  3. Fire the admissions representative who can’t/won’t sell. They aren’t going to get any better than they are right now.
  4. Fire the financial aid officer who acts like it’s their own money they are arranging a loan for, won’t do estimates and has closed hours of operation for intake needs.
  5. Fire any teacher who fails to start and stop classes on time, would rather have more “good students,” doesn’t motivate and doesn’t participate in the sales efforts.
  6. Tell the directors of finance, admissions, education, placement and you the director, that they are responsible for the start and that each one of them will reach out to the student between enrollment and start. Calls, notes and letters. Tell them that each contact will be documented and tracked. Tell them everyone, except the admissions director, will be fired if they don’t make the start. The admissions director already knows. Generally we can’t wait to take them to the gallows. Make everyone – yes, you too -100 percent responsible for making something that keeps the doors open. The opposing party? Fire them too. By the way, if that happens to be you — then step aside. Your employees and their families need someone who can lead.
  7. Clean the school — make white boards white, not black. Carpets don’t look good with coffee and Coke stains.
  8. Treat every student and lead like they are your kid looking for direction. They are all someone’s kid.
  9. If you can’t advertise then be out there telling your story. High schools, trade organizations, the city, county and state.
  10. Rent space at festivals and meet people.
  11. Ask for business — quit being so proud — get out there and sell your butt off.
  12. Make your business card an ad and give to anyone who will take it.
  13. If your admissions performance efforts stink, don’t give a bad rep more leads that cost you money. Get them outdoors and have them document their visits and contacts they are making. Have them bring in leads and then work them yourself. But don’t have them sitting there doing nothing. If they don’t like that idea fall back to No. 3 above.
  14. Have career night every week and use all those contacts for referrals. Buy a small ad in the local paper, and just invite them. Have a speaker each time and say “Sheriff Bob will be the speaker” or “Dr. Jones will be speaking,” or “Professor Smith will be speaking.”
  15. Open the school on Saturdays for free lab days to the public; teach them Word, Excel and how to use the Internet. Offer three schedules or just make it open. Prepare a press release of what you are doing, and get it to newspapers and radio stations. See if you can get them do a public service announcement. Since it’s free, they probably will. Have a class in learning how to use the Internet and search better. Communicate with the troops, the kids and the world.
  16. Visit each and every church in your community and offer your services to them in helping the people in their congregation with whatever you can. They have a ton of influence. By the way, I would assign teachers to this task. If they whine or refuse, refer to No. 5 above.
  17. Lose the third-generation Xerox copies of your promotional materials. Kinko’s is cheap.
  18. Ask your students what they think they can do to help you make the school a bigger success. They will help, and they already like you.

So there you go. I’ve given you 18 ideas to use. Go down them and check off the ones you will start doing today. If by chance you can’t find any, refer to the last sentence in No. 6 above.

Each of these will work, but don’t expect that everyone you need to help you pull it off is going to want to put forth the effort. Talk is cheap. Assign specific responsibilities and outcomes. Then manage it, execute it, and don’t let a bad attitude drive you out of business. Start looking right now for replacements. The people who you already know are a part of the problem won’t get any better – you know that already!

David really did beat Goliath. He had the passion to win, a few stones and a good attitude. All three are free.

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2 Comments on "Managing admissions performance is not for the weak at heart"

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Mical Kaye Buck


So where are you these days?

David Rugieri

HB-I should have checked here before. Send me your contact information. PHB