By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Earlier this month, Dave, Krista and their two daughters moved into the house next door to us. My wife Jen and I had briefly met them a few weeks before when they were doing their final inspection.
One night while unloading patio furniture in his backyard, Dave saw me grilling and proceeded to wave and walk over. After we both shared a little more about our careers and our families, he complimented our stamped concrete patio and asked who put it in for us.
If you’re a long time reader of this newsletter, you know the answer is Bill and his team at Earth Creations. You might remember me writing about Bill four years ago. That article quickly became, and has since remained, one of the most read articles on our website.
Considering the number of the emails I’ve received lately with questions about professional development, it seems like the perfect time to reshare parts of that article with you today, along with an update. Whether you read it before or it’s new to you, there are some really important messages in here that I encourage you to think about.
As I said earlier, Bill owns a concrete business in the Indianapolis area. Soon after we built our house, his team created our stamped concrete patio. Bill came highly recommended by a neighbor down the street. From the moment we started dealing with him it was obvious why. He was extremely genuine, honest, down to earth, and made the entire process about us.
A year or so after our patio went in, there was a knock on my door. It was Bill wanting to thank me. Let me explain why.
Bill had just come from our then new neighbors’ house across the street. After seeing our patio when they moved in, they mentioned wanting to do something similar in their backyard. Without hesitation I whipped out my cell phone and told them they needed to call or text Bill. I had done the same thing before for a half dozen other friends in my neighborhood, and I’ve done the same thing so many times since that I’ve lost count.
Bill’s knock on my door that day was to thank me for all the word-of-mouth recommendations.
Why did I offer up Bill’s information so quickly then, and why do I keep doing the same thing now when people like my new neighbor Dave ask about our patio? The answer is easy. It’s not because Bill asked me to, and it’s not because he gives me a referral fee (he doesn’t). It’s because not enough people in the customer service industry act like Bill. They don’t consistently make it all about the other person and their wants and needs. They aren’t always completely honest and transparent. Instead, too many are completely focused on just getting “the sale.”
The same thing continues to happen too often during the college search process. Too many colleges are so concerned about getting prospective students to visit or apply that not enough take the time to learn about their wants and needs. And by not taking that personalized approach, it leads a number of students and families to cross a school off their list early in the process. They tell us as much in the surveys we conduct.
So, here’s the question I have for you: How many people that barely know you and have had only minimal contact with you (like I had with Bill) would, without hesitation, recommend your school to a prospective student (or their parents) if asked about different colleges?
Or, how many people that you’ve had limited interactions with would go out of their way to mention your name to a friend of theirs at another school who happens to have a job opening, simply because of an interaction you had with them at a conference, event, or even on social media? Those things happen by the way more than you might think.
Word-of-mouth continues to be extremely powerful, so much so that prospective students, just like my neighbors, will often side with other people (some of whom they don’t even know) to help them make decisions. It might not make sense, but that’s what’s happening all across society. Just look at Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Reddit, etc.
Ask yourself, how many different people do you come in contact with or pass in the halls during a school visit, college fair, or professional development conference? How about the hotel that you stay at or the restaurant on the road where you eat? Think long and hard about that for a minute. Simply being genuine, honest, and helpful with others will pay a lifetime of dividends.
One of your goals should always be to generate positive interactions that get passed along from one person to the next, just like Bill did with me. By the way, to date Bill and his company have installed patios for 27 different families’ in our neighborhood.
I encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to lay out a plan right now of how you will consistently create positive relationships with this next class of students, their parents, and others around them (high school counselors, coaches, etc). The same thing goes for other industry professionals that you come in contact with…especially if you have aspirations of moving up the ladder. Never forget that you control the narrative that is written and communicated about you.
If you’ve got a question about this article or some other aspect of student recruitment, leadership, or professional/personal development, go ahead and reach out and we’ll start a conversation.