Why are some doing better than others?

Well, we could say they have better courses to offer, and for the most part, that’s probably true. ITT, Strayer, take a look at the offerings. They are pretty impressive and probably command real interest in the marketplace. The world has just about enough medical assisting and massage schools. Actually if we never approved another one after today, we would still have enough to finish out the decade.

But, as ITT, STRAYER, etc. will tell you, they have to watch their admissions activity too. That’s not new.

If we take our eyes off the admissions process, it generally falls apart. Then we regroup, usually overreacting, and have to start patching the bridge we just broke.

Admissions is a functional process first. Then a people process. Not the other way around. Too many people tend to manage the people and pay little or no attention to the actual process. Admissions is about listening and having something significant to say after you have heard someone. It’s not really about going to school; it’s about going to work. And people work for their own reasons. It could be as simple as eating and having a roof over your head. It could be about moving on with one’s life and starting over. It can result from waking up one morning and realizing that their life has come to a standstill. Whatever the reason, it’s not about going to school – school is the means to the end. And as a result the admissions person has to make sure that the benefits of attending their school are greater than the costs of time, effort, and money in the eyes and mind of the person sitting across from them.

Outside of our immediate world, people attend school for pretty much the same reasons. Work. People go to law school to generally practice law and make a living. Medical – they want to be a doctor and work. Accountants – work. MBAs – Work. Criminal justice, too – work. And so on.

So just for the record, how do your admissions people make the leap from school to work without making promises other people can’t possibly keep?

How do they make the interview about the benefits of a career, without losing the emphasis we need to place on doing a good job while they are a student? Well, that is a whole new blog by itself. But, let’s look at this piece of the puzzle: the telephone. And how can a good sales manager help them learn how to do it better?

Well for starters – what are we really teaching our admissions people? Is it how to use the telephone better? Whether inbound or outbound, are we actually “teaching” them how to use it? Not just talk, use it?

Over the years I have always questioned this telephone part of admissions. It seems to me that a very small group of admissions people actually are any good on the phone. Now by “good,” let me throw out something. If we look at the metrics, and to keep it simple, let’s say 100 people contacted your admissions representative, 25 a week, and requested more information. Good leads, right? They called us. Regardless of the source, they called us; they are bonafide shoppers. And let’s say for the sake of argument they appointed (ground school) 50% of them. OK, we now have 50 people coming to see us. Let’s also say that they have a 50% no-show. Now we have 25 people in front of them. Let’s also say that they enroll 75% of those people, and then 90% make it to start day. Give or take, we now have 17 starts and the attrition countdown. So in the end, we will have some leave, etc., and we maybe will see 15 or so move on. Now here is the rub. Where are the other 80 +/- people from that starting group of leads? They never appointed or no-showed, that’s where. No, let’s change it up just one notch. The appointed/shows metrics. Let’s say that 75% appointed and 75% showed. Everything else the same. Now we have 38 starts, give or take, drop a few along the way, and we end up with 33-34 moving on. That could mean that in reality there are 18-19 more starts. At 1, 000.00 +/- per month of average earnings – it adds up when you think of how many reps we may be talking about.

I think over the years I have asked every admissions director what they do to evaluate one’s ability to effectively use a telephone. Some do, most don’t. They assume if a person can present themselves in the interview as a competent sales person, they can handle the phone too. Well, look at your own numbers on those admissions reports. Lead to interview. Is it working for you?

My thought is either keep them off the phone or train only on telephone skills. But make sure if you are asking they be trained on telephone skills, the trainer is strong, effective and proven. If not, add a new element to your admissions organization: a call center that is held to higher metrics. The 75/75 metric. Pay them admissions wages and have the best call center trainer money can buy. They appoint all the leads, and follow-up on the no-shows, re-appointing, etc. Besides getting in front of more people, your representatives will actually develop a whole new attitude about their performance and ultimate contribution. You see, having been a representative, what killed my self-image and perception about how good I felt about what I did had a whole lot to do with how many shows and no-shows I had today. And that affected my interview skill. I oversold when I panicked and lost enrollments as a result. In hindsight, with no telephone to worry about, I became a great interviewer and polished the skill I thought I was hired for: interviewing students. I never wanted a telephone job to begin with, but like most young sales people, I thought, “piece of cake” when anyone said “are you comfortable working with the telephone.”

Reps will always enroll 50% of the people they get in front of; it’s just the way it washes out in the end. But, with a call center approach, the sales managers now will have only the interview aspect to train to with the admissions team, and most of them know how to help someone who is eyeball to eyeball with another person. So if that 50% moves to 60% – well, you can do the math on that one.

Just a thought.

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2 Comments on "Why are some doing better than others?"

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Tony McPeck
Your idea of seperating admissions into two departments,a call center and an “interview only” department, is an idea that I have pondered for the past couple years. There is no question that our representatives are spending the majority of their time on the phones. This probably contributes to less than optimal levels of performance as well as increased turnover in admissions. The idea makes sense on this level. In addition, how likely is it that we can find individuals who are comfortable spending hours a day making outbound calls and also be that professional interviewer that we are looking for.… Read more »
David Ruggieri

Good Question.
The reality is that when the call center produces more interviews (shows) than they will be busy interviewing more people. There are probably quite a few people that would love to work the phone. Maybe an older base, people with both poise and purpose. People can be trained to deal with all types on the phone, and the best thing, they don’t have to give away a ton of information to get an appointment. I would give it a shot. Dave