Creating Memorable Campus Visits

How would prospective students rate a visit to your campus? —Apart from the attractive landscape and stately buildings, the impressive credentials and classroom content. Beyond the presentation of social activities and athletic events. How well are they welcomed?

We think we can learn some valuable lessons in hospitality from an unexpected source: the home of America’s favorite chicken sandwich.

In a recent national survey, Chick-fil-A’s service stands out among fast-food chains across the country. A subsequent Inc. article links the chain’s good manners and quality service to its popularity. This exceptional company, rated so highly for the dining experience, outperforms its closest competition by huge margins in average per-store revenue.

Chick-fil-A’s brand of service is at the core of how business is done. A statement on the company’s website explains:

For the past 70 years, we have built a foundational commitment to service . . . This begins in the restaurant – one customer at a time. We firmly believe in treating every person who comes through our doors with honor, dignity, and respect. We teach it to everyone who comes to work at Chick-fil-A, and it’s something that they take with them throughout their careers – whether they choose to stay with Chick-fil-A or go on to other promising careers.

This has our team at 5 Degrees thinking . . . thinking about how friendly, knowledgeable service might contribute to delivering an outstanding product in higher education. No doubt, customers love the Chick-fil-A product. But perhaps it’s the way that product is delivered that pushes the company so far beyond its competitors.

The American Freshman 2015 report measured various factors of the college experience. In evaluating the students’ reasons in deciding to go to a particular college, 42% of respondents rated “campus visit” as “Very Important.”  In fact, it was about as important as “financial assistance” and “social activities.” (Data Tables, p. 51).

As institutions of higher education, we have a premium product to offer. Would serving it up with a smile set your school apart from others?

As you’re training staff and student volunteers to host prospective students, you may consider taking a page from the Chick-fil-A approach. Notice their statement says, “. . . we teach it (service) to everyone who comes to work for Chick-fil-A.”

Does your campus visit training include teaching good service with:

-An emphasis on words, expressions, and responses that communicate welcome?

-Coaching for how to engage students and parents in conversation, to listen to and give value to their thoughts?

-Thorough preparation for answering questions well?

Stand-out recruiting materials and a stellar website may get students to your campus for a visit. But it’s the personal connection that will keep them there. And maybe serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches during campus visits—that couldn’t hurt, either.