Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tombstone vs. Totino's

The winter issue of Connections is all about 365 recruitment. As I was editing one of the articles (written by David Stollman, Laurel Peffer, and Tom Healy) this morning, the following statement struck me:

" Most chapters don’t actually recruit. They just select."

Now, I'm no recruitment expert, but this also isn't my first rodeo. Yet, I've never heard the concept put quite like this. It made me think. Using the word 'selection' assumes that you have a line (high quantity) of smart, kind, values-based, and service-oriented (high quality) people standing outside your door just waiting to be let in. We're not betting people, but we think it's safe to bet that this happens to, approximately, 0% of you.

The authors later state, "There is a difference between selecting among people that show up, and actually recruiting people to be there. Putting up flyers or planning the events isn’t recruiting." Aaahhhh, touché. 

Selection is not how you recruit members for a lifetime of membership to your fraternal organization. Frankly, it's more like how you choose which type of frozen pizza to buy. Tombstone or Totino's? Clearly, Tombstone is the better choice, but it's so much more expensive. Most of us have to wait for it to go on sale before we can afford it. When it does, we fill our carts. Totino's, on the other hand, is cheap. Soooo cheap. No one really wants to eat it but when we're standing there looking at it, next to the expensive Tombstone's, it's too easy to justify the purchase in our minds. It's as if we think that it will taste different this time. It won't be as disgusting. But, sadly, we get it home, eat it, and think, "Nope, still disgusting. I should have splurged for the Tombstone... or just forgone the frozen pizza altogether."

Recruitment is intentional. It's planning ahead and opting not to make rash and stupid decisions you'll later regret. The concept of 365 recruitment works for lots of reasons, but one obvious one is that it doesn't limit the choosing of members to a specific time period.

It's kind of like budgeting. Back to the pizza. You know you like Tombstone . Therefore, every time you go to the grocery store, you check the price. If it's not on sale, you don't buy any. If it is on sale, you do. Even if you know you already have a few in your freezer at home. You'll know you'll eat them eventually. However, every once in a while, you've got a big craving so you splurge for just one, even if it's full price. It's that good and you can afford to do it every once in a while. This approach allows you to skip the Totino's totally. You've finally realized that just because you can get a bunch of them for cheap and fill your freezer with "food" doesn't mean you'll enjoy eating them when the time comes to do so. You know now that buying them is a facade; sure, you'll have a freezer full of pizzas, but they're disgusting.

Membership recruitment is similar. There is no way we're going to be exposed to every qualified potential member during the weeks of formal recruitment. We've got to be checking in on people all year long and invite them to join when the opportunity arises. If we simply try to frantically fill our chapters during the one or two weeks a year, we're just going to end up with too many sub-par members. Sure, we've got the largest chapter on campus - but look at the members.

Stollman, Peffer, and Healy's article has nothing to do with pizza, but it's a good read nonetheless. Surely after reading this, we've got you on the edge of your seat waiting for the issue to come out next month.

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