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Fraternity Gets Creative; Recruits 70 Men in 25 Days

This spring, something extraordinary happened at Georgia College!

The average size of a college fraternity in the United States is approximately 45 members.  On average, those members use 52 weeks to recruit and initiate fewer than 20 new members into their chapter.

In March 2016, two men — Bo Hunter and Zach Vasseur — were sent to GC by Alpha Tau Omega’s national fraternity on a mission: to recruit the school’s highest quality non-Greek men and start a new chapter of ATO.  They were given one month!

Approximately 2500 undergraduate men represent 45% of the Georgia College student body. There were already six fraternities on campus (average size of 65 members).  ATO wanted to become the 7th.  ATO partnered with the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Fraternity & Sorority Life to determine that there may be interest on campus from non-Greek men to start a new fraternity.  On March 11th, just 25 days after arriving on campus, Bo & Zach announced that Alpha Tau Omega had 70 accepted bids!

I had an opportunity to interview Zach and his supervisor, RJ Taylor.  (Transcript below)  The recruitment results are exceptional, but I am most impressed with how they did it.

The professionalism of ATO’s team and deep partnership with the school provide a shining example of a new era of fraternity recruitment; an overhauled business model; a system and philosophy that may become the new normal.  Stacey Milner, Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, told me ATO executed the textbook example of how a fraternity should partner with a host institution.  And, they were rewarded with 70 new members who she verified “are amazing guys, having an amazing experience.”

Warning:  if you’re looking for “event ideas” or techniques to “get your name out there” then you’ll be wildly disappointed.  You also won’t read about Rush Week calendars, off-campus parties, cool t-shirts, yard signs, frat castles, over-produced rush videos, giveaway swag, or booze.  Just the opposite!  ATO’s success is another example of the evolving professionalization of fraternity recruitment.

There is a fraternity-done-right story happening around the country that has gotten almost no press coverage even though it is happening on hundreds of college campuses every year.  Select fraternity expansion teams and undergraduate chapters are choosing a relationship-focused, values-based, Dynamic Recruitment system that counters frat-star culture and public expectations of “going Greek.”  The results are often exceptional in both quantity and quality – just like ATO at GC.  Results that exceed what anyone thought might be possible.  These groups represent the future of fraternity.  They are the business model to replicate.

Here’s what Zach & RJ had to say about Alpha Tau Omega’s success at Georgia College.

Phired Up: Two men recruited 70 new members in less than 1 month.  That’s impressive.
ATO:  Thanks.  We’re proud of Bo and Zach.  They did a great job of executing ATO’s recruitment system.

Phired Up:  Some people may read those numbers and question the quality of your new members or the selectivity of ATO.
ATO: We gave bids to 70 men and initiated all 70 of them.  We interviewed and turned down 82 men who we didn’t think were ready for ATO.  The new ATO group has a 3.29 GPA compared to the 3.05 all-fraternity GPA.  We are proud of every single man in our group.  They each exceeded our values-based selection criteria.

Phired Up: Good answer.
ATO:  Thanks.

ATO:  We got close to these guys.  They’re friends – brothers.  They really are some of the best men on campus.  Our men represent leaders across all parts of campus.  Student org officers, student government Chief of Staff, President of business fraternity, guys from Campus Outreach, Bible Study leaders, Intramural Reps….

Phired Up:  People reading this will want to know how you did it.  The details. Tactics.  ATO has a strong expansion recruitment system, but what made this project so explosive in such a short amount of time?
ATO:  (smiling) There was definitely some luck involved.  The school was uncommonly supportive.  We did lots of prep work and worked long days while we were on campus.

Phired Up:  What does “uncommonly supportive” mean?
ATO:  From the very first conversation we were in a real partnership with the school.  We shared the same goal.  Campus officials and even the IFC went out of their way to support us.  The communication between our staff and the school was constant.  Everyone was transparent.  There was so much trust and mutual respect.  I think we all [school, ATO, IFC, new members, alumni] worked together so well that we felt like we succeeded together as a team.

Phired Up:  Will you share some of those tactics … the stuff you did different at GC that really worked?
ATO:  Sure.

Below are 10 recruitment tactics ATO did at GC that few recruitment teams are doing well – or not at all.  They credit each of these with making a significant impact toward the results achieved:

1.    INSTAGRAM – We planned on using Facebook and Twitter.  At the last minute Zach threw together an Instagram account just to see what would happen.  It blew up!

2.    UNIVERSITY EMAIL – The campus administration was so supportive!  Especially Stacey Hurt-Milner.  The school emailed every incoming freshman with information about ATO.  34 guys showed up to our first interest meeting during the pre-site visit.

3.    CHAPTERBUILDER – ATO uses recruitment technology called ChapterBuilder. However, this time we didn’t wait until the end of recruitment to invite all the new members into the system and train them.  Instead, we invited about 15 of the guys who expressed early interest to use the technology with us.  They went crazy with it and recruited 20+ of their friends using the tool.

4.    SHAMROCK WEEK – The guys we recruited during the 1st week got involved right away and met a lot of sorority women.  They won Kappa Delta sorority’s Shamrock Week before they were even a recognized group.  That got people’s attention and built their confidence.

5.    PRE-SITE VISIT – Our mantra is that ‘day one on campus is never day one of recruitment.’  We visited GC a few months before we started recruiting.  That’s when we met the 34 guys from the campus generated email.  We also built relationships with campus administrators, faculty, student leaders, sorority presidents, etc.

6.    INTRAMURALS – We learned during the pre-site visit that up to 85% of GC students participate in IM’s.  So we did, too.  It paid off.

7.    TAYLOR DEER – A recruitment specialist from Phired Up visited the project to coach the ATO team for a few days and help us refine our process.  Taylor is the real deal.

8.    CHUNKING – We never talked to a student without asking for referrals of quality Non-Greek men.  Chunking is an art form.  It takes practice.  Our team got really good at it.

9.    DEVOTIONAL – ATO is unique in that our top 3 officer positions are President, Vice-President, then Chaplain.  ATO is the first fraternity founded on Christian values.  The “ATO Devotional” is a book written by ATO’s for ATO’s talking about the bigger issues of life.  We carried that book everywhere we went.  Literally.  It was a constant conversation piece.

10.    SERVICE/OUTREACH – ATO is not a “frat.” One way we demonstrate that is putting service at the heart of our recruitment.  We partnered with the GC Give Center to establish a partnership of giving between ATO and school to do community outreach.

Phired Up:  You didn’t mention any rush events or a rush calendar.
ATO:  Nah.  If you mean traditional “big events,” we didn’t do that.  We’ve found that large rush events send the wrong message, often attract the wrong guys, take too much time and money, and deliver too little return of quality members.

Phired Up:  Alcohol?
ATO:  If you’re asking us to have a beer with you after this interview, sure.  If you’re asking if we used alcohol during recruitment, absolutely not!  That would have undermined everything we were trying to build.

Phired Up:  What did a typical day of recruitment look like?
ATO:  There was no “typical” day.  Hang on a sec.  Here’s an example from Zach & Bo’s calendar.

7:30am wake up
9:00am arrive on campus (Einstein Bagel in Student Union)
9:30am – 4:30pm coffee meetings (typically 20+ meetings, 15-30 minutes each)
5:00pm dinner on campus
5:30pm be present on campus (slack line, IM sports, campus events, chill, etc)
7:00pm ATO information session
8:30pm arrive home, follow up calls, texts, & emails
10:00pm administrative work. Plan next day together.
11:00pm talk to friends/family, read news, etc
12:00am sleep

Phired Up:  That’s intense.
ATO:  It’s worth it.

Phired Up:  Congratulations on your success at Georgia College & State University.
ATO:  Thanks!

Bravo to Alpha Tau Omega for doing recruitment right.  Thank you for sharing the Georgia College story.

While nearly every national fraternity in the country is enjoying unprecedented membership growth, some – like ATO – are using this moment in time to elevate the caliber of men they are recruiting and putting new, sustainable business systems in place that may make success stories like this the new normal.  Now, that would be extraordinary.

Interview Date:  May 12, 2016
Interviewer:  Josh Orendi, Josh@PhiredUp.com / Josh@TechniPhi.com
Interviewing:
Zach Vasseur, Senior Leadership Consultant, zvasseur@ato.org
RJ Taylor, Director of Growth, rtaylor@ato.org

Other Dynamic Recruitment Spotlight Articles:

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Sigma Nu at TCU Recruits 112 Men, Credits New Recruitment Technology: ChapterBuilder

by Josh Orendi

This fall, Alex Taylor and Sigma Nu fraternity recruited one of the largest new member classes of any fraternity in recent years.  The number alone should catch people’s attention.  After 45 minutes on the phone with Alex, I became even more impressed with the way they did it – new technology, creative staffing, unique messaging.  

In full disclosure, Alex and I have also been working together on new recruitment technology from TechniPhi called ChapterBuilder that was piloted by Sigma Nu for the first time at TCU.  Here are excerpts from our conversation.

Josh: 112 new members!  Is that correct?  
Alex: Yeah. (I could hear the smile in his voice)

Josh: What was the recruitment goal for this TCU expansion project?
Alex: 85 was the goal by September 12th.  Average fraternity membership in the spring was 106 members.  We felt good about managing a group the size of the campus average.  We capped our recruitment and began holding additional guys over to the spring 2016 semester.

Josh: “Capped” … “Hold over” … you mean you stopped and have a wait list!?
Alex: We never stop recruiting.  We are consistently recruiting, but that doesn’t mean we have to bid or invite them right that moment.  We’re okay telling a guy we are interested in him and having him wait until the next semester to join.  Often the guys who are waiting until the next semester become some of our best recruiters because they are motivated to help build their future new member class.

Josh: How long did it take to recruit 112 guys?  How many Sigma Nu brothers were doing the recruitment?
Alex:  We were physically on campus for about 3 weeks, but the whole month of July was spent calling people.  We had 10 brothers making phone calls specifically for the TCU project.  By August 10th we shifted to only the TCU ground team which ranged between 1 – 5 brothers.

Josh: How does that compare to recent Sigma Nu expansions?
Alex:  Sigma Nu had some amazing successes in the last 5 years, but this is the largest group that Sigma Nu has recruited in recent history.

Josh:  What did Sigma Nu do different this time?
Alex:  A lot of our success should be credited to TCU being ready for and supporting our efforts.  Aligning ourselves with formal recruitment helped.  Several visits to campus and interviews with key leaders at TCU helped us communicate Sigma Nu in a way that filled needs in the TCU campus community. Also, there is a desire amongst today’s college students to want to leave a lasting legacy and impression. Every fraternity, when operating within their values and vision, has an experience that people will want to own as well. Sigma Nu headquarters sponsoring 5 staff members to be on campus was critical.  The other big thing that was different was using new recruitment technology.

Josh:  New technology…
Alex:  ChapterBuilder was a game changer!  Prior to this fall, Sigma Nu had a VERY elaborate spreadsheet system that we used for keeping track of PNM names.  It was developed internally, and we were very proud of it.  However, this summer we decided that times are changing and ChapterBuilder looked like the future of fraternity recruitment.  So we piloted it at TCU.  112 men can speak to what a great decision that was.  ChapterBuilder worked better than we could have ever expected!

Josh:  Tell me more about how you used ChapterBuilder.
Alex:  We had 670 interested PNMs in our ChapterBuilder system.  Multiple team members communicating and managing relationships with hundreds of PNMs called for professional recruitment technology.  It made our team more intentional, more directed, more efficient than we’ve ever been.

Josh:  I’m a numbers guy.  Help me understand.
Alex:  The technology allowed me to track everything we did.  We have data on this project all the way down to the number of phone calls and average call time to generate a first meeting.  We track our lead sources, interactions, PNM values, down time between interactions, text vs. call vs. email efficiency…  We track everything.  Every data point makes our process and our team members better for the next campus where we build a Sigma Nu chapter.

Josh:  Was ChapterBuilder worth it?
Alex:  Yes!  100% yes.  The return on investment is off the charts.  We estimate that our staff saved upwards of 100 man-hours with ChapterBuilder.  That’s like having an additional human being on the ground with us for the full project.

Josh: Favorite features?
Alex:  I’ll name a few:

  1. Communication Tools.  Ability to mass contact via text and email inside ChapterBuilder in a personal way.  So much better than old mail merge system or individual texts late at night.  We estimated that this feature alone saved our team nearly 100 man hours.  That’s like having an additional staff member on the ground with us.  The ROI is off the charts.
  2. Mobile App.  By mid-project this became a heavier weapon.  Super helpful.  I had real time analytics and PNM contact info at my fingertips at all times.
  3. Coaching.  I could seamlessly jump between multiple expansion projects (we were also doing another expansion at High Point University at the same time) to stay informed and better coach our teams.
  4. Personal Profile Pages.  Multiple staff members might have 2-3 interactions with the same PNM in one day.  We just looked at the PNM Profile to keep our team notes organized.  I never went into a conversation with a PNM blind.  We could be more genuine in our conversations.

Josh:  Did you say you were doing another expansion project at the same time!?
Alex:  Yes. We set a goal of 25 to 30 new members at High Point University. We walked away with 43 founding members. I was fortunate because we had our senior Leadership Consultants assisting our Expansion Consultant. The High Point recruitment effort was proportionally more successful than TCU!

Josh:  You are full of surprises.  Tell me something about the TCU project that might surprise people.
Alex:  We didn’t put up a single flier or banner at TCU or High Point.  I’ve never met anyone who joined from a marketing brochure.  People join people.  So, we chose personal phone calls and meetings where we could have real conversations with high performing students.  Also, people might be surprised that we only held 2 “events”.  Event based recruiting limits your pool to a subcategory within a subcategory: People who are interested in fraternities, and those people who are interested that will attend an event. That doesn’t mean we didn’t do fun things like playing sports, hanging out, and doing what interests PNMs, it just mean that those two events were more fun because we knew exactly who was coming.

Josh:  You recruited 100+ guys.  People will say you gave everyone a bid, that you sacrificed quality for quantity, or that 112 is too many guys….
Alex:  Sigma Nu is very deliberate about recruiting only high caliber men who meet our values, standards, and requirements for membership.  I’m proud of every one of the 112 men who joined.  Here’s some additional data that might help people understand:

  • Turned down:  250+ interested men
  • Recruited freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors to create balance in the group.
  • Nearly every upperclassman has a 3.0+ GPA
  • Nearly 100% of the new members belong to another student leadership organization, including RA’s, student mentors, Ambassadors, athletes, and varied majors.
  • Diversity is a word that people keep using to describe the men.  Multiple religious backgrounds, 24 different states, 3 nationalities.  Strong because of our differences.  We don’t have 112 versions of the same guy here.  This is a group that will proudly represent Sigma Nu and proudly service TCU and the Fort Worth community.  Diversity is scary because it is different, but we are building a culture of inclusivity. It certainly does not mean we will not have differences, but with a culture of inclusivity and mutual respect you learn about what really motivates someone.

Josh:  What is your philosophy on quality vs quantity?  
Alex:  Sigma Nu never sacrifices quality.  From my experience, quantity drives quality.  If you get the quantity number right, the quality seems to take care of itself.  We demand quality.  That’s a no brainer.  High volume makes quality possible and even a little easier.  The technology allowed us to have a lot PNM leads … a lot more personal relationships … the ability to be more selective than ever before.

Josh:  Alex, you and Sigma Nu did something incredible.  You changed 112 men’s lives with the gift of fraternity.  Those 112 men have a legacy to leave at TCU and a way to make a deep, meaningful impact on their campus, community, and world.  How proud are you?
Alex:  Sigma Nu men everywhere believe in Love, Honor, and Truth.  We have 112 new men of character who are lifelong committed to Sigma Nu.  I’m proud, yes.  But, more than that, I’m excited to see what these men do together with this new opportunity.

 

Interview Date:  September 17, 2015
Interviewer:  Josh Orendi, Josh@PhiredUp.com / Josh@TechniPhi.com
Interviewing: Alex Taylor, Alex.Taylor@SigmaNu.org, Sigma Nu Fraternity

Do you have a great story about growing your sorority or fraternity?  Contact us at Info@PhiredUp.com.

Other Dynamic Recruitment Spotlight Articles:

 

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81 New Members in 5 Weeks! Phi Sigma Kappa Shatters Recruitment Record

Imagine being hired by your inter/national fraternity headquarters as a professional recruiter.  You are flown across the country to a campus where your fraternity does not exist.  Your job is to build from scratch a chapter of your organization that will not only exist but must also improve the quality of the overall fraternity community for decades to come.  You get one other recruiter to help you, a couple hundred dollars, and 5 weeks to recruit.  On your mark. Get set. GO!

Meet Greg DalSanto and Romarr Mayne.  They are each 23 years old.  Both graduated in May 2014.  Fall 2014 was their first semester working for Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity headquarters.  On August 18, 2014 they checked 2 pieces of luggage each at the Indianapolis airport and stepped on an airplane for a 5 week recruitment binge at Washington State University.  This is the life of an Expansion Specialist.  How did they do?  Oh, they almost tripled PSK’s national fraternity’s expansion record!!!

These new Greek gods didn’t have much time to talk after the project (they were already preparing for the next one), but I caught up with them in Indianapolis during their 1 week break before they move on to Young Harris College in Georgia then Woodbury University.

Phired Up:  81 new members is a big number!

PSK:  It is – especially for Phi Sig.

 

Phired Up:  A month ago people were saying that 40 would be a stretch goal. How did you do it!?

PSK:  This is our first project!  So, we’re excited about how we did…  We’re a good team.  Where one of us had a weakness the other had a strength.  We have balance as a team.

 

Phired Up:  [sarcastically] You must have spent a fortune on alcohol, parties, t-shirts…

PSK: [laughing] No. We didn’t do any of that.  Even if we had the budget to do any of those things (which we didn’t), there’s no way we would have gone down that road.  That’s not what Phi Sig is about.

 

Phired Up:  Then how did you recruit 81 guys!?

PSK: Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, we did spend $92 on a pizza party and $110 on BBQ for all the guys toward the end of the project.  So I guess we did have “parties.” No alcohol at either though.

 

Phired Up:  So that’s how you got all these guys to join?

PSK:  No. No. No. Those were just fun ways to build brotherhood and get the group that had already joined to come out with some of their friends who might be interested, too.

 

Phired Up:  Seriously.  Phi Sigma Kappa hasn’t recruited more than 30 men on an expansion project in recent history.  How did you nearly triple that!?

PSK:  We both came from PSK colonies and were heavily involved in recruitment.  We both had a background in recruitment for a new group.  We understood the importance of 1-1 personal meetings.  We made lots of phone calls.  We talked about service, philanthropy, and academics rather than “frat stuff.”  We also got really personal with the guys.  We got to know them.  We spoke their language. We really care about them.  We’ve been in their shoes and they responded to that.  There was a lot of passion poured into this project.  We talked about the opportunity to do something bigger than themselves rather than asking them to join something that we own.

 

Phired Up:  Is WSU just some magical space where fraternity recruitment is easy?

PSK:  WSU is a really special place.  Not that it’s magical but that the existing fraternity community and administration was very supportive of us building a new chapter.  There are a lot of quality men at WSU who were excited to talk about building a values-based fraternity.

 

Phired Up:  You weren’t alone.  There was another fraternity expanding at the same time, right?

PSK:  Yes.  And, they did very well, too.  It’s unique to have two fraternities expanding on the same campus at the same time.  We’re excited about the guys who joined PSK and we know they’re excited about the guys who joined their group.  The real “winner” if you want to think about it that way is WSU Greek Life.  The WSU fraternity community just grew nearly 8% this fall through expansion!

 

Phired Up:  The average fraternity chapter size across the country is around 50 members.  How is it that chapters this size struggle to recruit 20+ new members in a full YEAR, but you TWO recruited 81 new members in just 5 WEEKS?

PSK:  I’m not sure what other groups are doing.  I can tell you that Phi Sig is not a stereotypical fraternity.  I can tell you we don’t put social and alcohol first.  We put community service, philanthropy, scholarship … our values first.  We choose to be personable and professional.  We learned that there are a lot of men at WSU who want a values-based fraternity experience.  We hope that will be true on other campuses we visit after WSU, too.

 

Phired Up:  Your critics are going to say you just recruited for numbers…

PSK:  We’re proud of every single guy we recruited.  These are literally some of the best men at WSU.  They have a collective GPA higher than the all-male and all-fraternity GPA.  We used our Values-based Selection Criteria to evaluate every guy.  I’d say we actually got more selective each week of the project.  By the end, we literally had to turn away guys we would have absolutely bid in the first 2 weeks.

 

Phired Up:  Were you afraid of getting too big too quick?

PSK:  OH YEAH.  When we got to 75 we thought … we could push this group to 110 if we want.  Easily.  It just wasn’t what was right for the group.  We cancelled 20-30 meetings with guys who expressed interest in the last week and we left 100+ referrals on the Names List that we didn’t even call.

 

Phired Up:  You two lived together and worked together 24/7.  Did you ever want to kill each other?

PSK: The truth is that these are long days with high expectations. We are both passionate about our work.  We get along great, but just like all brothers we have disagreements.

 

Phired Up:  What were the 3 most important things you did to produce results?

PSK: 

  1. Be Personable.  Having an inviting spirit, a vibe of openness.  Being genuine.  People gravitate to people who are personable.
  2. Be Professional.  The way we carried ourselves, the way we spoke, the way we dressed, the questions we asked, the meeting/events we hosted…
  3. Be Relatable.  Telling the story of how much we personally got out of the fraternity.

 

Phired Up:  Scott, what’s the one thing that is most under-estimated to produce big recruitment results?

PSK:  Planning.  As the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” The site visit, research, alumni discussions, etc., all played a part. I scheduled the majority of the sorority presentations prior to arriving on campus. Planning the project with the Greek Life office, getting internet access, parking, knowing the IFC recruitment rules, having the interest group men set up meeting schedules with their referrals for week 1; all of these planning steps and activities allowed us the ability to hit the ground running from day one! I think planning is one of the most overlooked and underrated parts of any expansion project.

 

Phired Up:  Walk me through an expansion day at WSU.

PSK:

8:30am wake up, send appointment reminders via pre-set text

10am arrive on campus for student meetings (usually 20+ between us)

10:30 make phone calls from student referrals we got the prior day

1pm lunch (typically 15 minutes on the go)

1:15pm begin follow up meetings (usually 10+ between us)

4:30pm hurry back to hotel or run errands for the night

5pm presentations to student organizations or sororities

6pm enter new names into Names List

7pm host interest meeting

8:30 phone call session (1-2 hours, 50 phone calls each.  Usually talk to 30, meet with 20)

9pm dinner on the go

10pm hang out with some of the guys from the group or go relax at the room

12pm head hits pillow

 

Phired Up:  When did you sense the WSU project was going to be something special?

PSK:  [Romarr] Week #2 and Greg laughed at me.  There was an energy from the guys we met and the friends they would bring back.  Everyone was pouring names onto our names list.  After the first interest meeting there was so much energy I knew we could double the record.  Scott (Director of Expansion) and Greg laughed and blew me off… we weren’t even at 30 at that time.  In week #3 we got the IFC no bid list and we got another big wave of interest at the next few meetings.

 

Phired Up: Where did most of the guys who joined come from?

PSK:

20+ from referrals of the guys we recruited.

15+ from sorority referrals.

10+ IFC list.

9 from the initial interest group.

5+ from article in the campus newspaper.

A legacy, a few at IFC table fair, a walk up, etc.

 

Phired Up:  Phi Sigma Kappa is a proud partner of Phired Up.  Tell me about your relationship with Phired Up and Paul Manly.

PSK [Scott Pegram]:  The coaching is key! We had in-office training for the new staff by Phired Up prior to this project. Paul taught the Dynamic Recruitment process to Romarr and Greg and ran MANY practice sessions – not to mention weekly calls and support with our staff and Director. The coaching helped uncover things we needed to tweak and checkpoints to share our successes.

PSK [Romarr & Greg]:  Paul was a great liaison between us and Scott.  We can relate to Paul.  He has an insight.  He knows what it takes to do big expansion projects.  Having that weekly call with him recharged us and helped us understand where we can do better.  The training we did for hours and hours made our presentations work and prepared us for success.  It was huge!  Anytime we had a problem, Paul was able to help us. Without Paul and Phired Up this project wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.

 

Phired Up:  Is 80+ the new expectation for Phi Sigma Kappa expansion?

PSK:  Ha!  Probably not.  Each campus is unique.  The bar has definitely been raised!

 

Phired Up:  Congratulations, gentlemen.  You should be very proud.

PSK:  We’re damn proud!

 

Interview Date: September 24, 2014
Interview Conducted By:  Josh Orendi, Josh@PhiredUp.com
Interviewing Romarr Mayne & Greg DalSanto. Email interview with Scott Pegram.

 

Do you think your growth story is worthy of a Spotlight Interview?  Contact us at Info@PhiredUp.com.

 

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PhiMuDeltaLarge

Phi Mu Delta Nearly DOUBLES Nationally This Year

Tom Murphy, Phi Mu Delta National Fraternity’s Executive Director recently shared some amazing statistics about the 2013-2014 school year for their organization.

Before Fall 2013, the 96-year-old fraternity had 15 chapters and colonies and a total of 309 undergraduate members.

Today, just 9 months later, the organization has just under 600 total undergraduate members at 17 schools. This dramatic growth, according to Murphy equals “the most initiates we’ve seen in at least 35 years.”

“We are who we are as a successful fraternity because of the hard work of a lot of people,” said Murphy, “and I absolutely count Phired Up’s partnership with Phi Mu Delta as an important factor in our success.”

When asked how the organization achieved such dramatic growth this year, Tom mentioned three factors:

  1. Consistent Training. “Our chapters really buy-in to Social Excellence and Dynamic Recruitment,” said Murphy. “All of our members at this point know about these growth-focused lessons, and many are practicing them consistently.”
  2. New Technology. Murphy reported that a few of his chapters learned about some new recruitment-related technology this year and its implementation was an important factor in their success.
  3.  Heightened Expectations. Phi Mu Delta increased it’s recruitment expectations — challenging chapters to share their powerful fraternal experience with more men on each of their campuses. This new level of expectation is being met by many of the chapters.

Phired Up has been a partner of Phi Mu Delta for many years. This level of commitment from both parties has resulted in custom-built curriculum that Phired Up’s trainers have tailored to the unique needs and strengths of Phi Mu Delta men. Fall 2013 training sessions included never-before-attempted deeply experiential social challenges that allowed members to gain the confidence necessary to execute on their Dynamic Recruitment action plans.

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about Phi Mu Delta’s recruitment success. Several years ago, this was posted on Phi Mu Delta’s website and reposted on Phired Up’s, “Phi Mu Delta saw a 44% increase in the number of men pledged to join Phi Mu Delta this fall! Great work gentlemen and special thanks goes to Phired Up! Productions and Josh Orendi.” At the time, Josh Orendi — one of Phired Up’s founders — said this, “Tom Murphy deserves a lot of credit for PMD’s success. I can’t think of another Executive Director that is more passionate or puts in more time doing hands-on development work with his chapters.”

Murphy continues to be unique amongst fraternity executives. He put 6 weeks of unbelievable on-the-ground effort this winter into a major expansion project at Ohio Northern University. His deep involvement resulted in a huge success story — one of several new groups started this semester.

When asked about other factors making Phi Mu Delta successful, Tom immediately mentioned the organization’s bold decisions to close and then re-start chapters that are failing to live up to the Phi Mu Delta standard. The organization will not tolerate hazing, nor will it put up with risk management irresponsibility. As a result, Phi Mu Delta is offering a truly special fraternity option to students looking to be a part of something values-based, and focused on brotherhood, service, and democracy.

 

Dynamic Recruitment Spotlight Archives: This article is one in a series of spotlight interviews we’ve posted over the years. Read more here – National Fraternity Doubles In Size; Credits ‘Living Our Values‘ | New #1, Alabama Takes Over as Nations Largest Greek Community | Meet The Fastest Growing Fraternity In The Nation; Alpha Sigma Phi | How Alcohol (or the lack thereof) is Helping One Fraternity Grow Fast

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National Fraternity DOUBLES In Size; Credits “Living Our Values”

Kappa Delta Rho is a social fraternity with chapters on 38 college campuses across the United States.  Since 2007, undergraduate membership has skyrocketed 109% according the Executive Director, Joe Rosenberg.  He told Phired Up’s Josh Orendi, “KDR chapters are living our values, expecting Social Excellence, and using Dynamic Recruitment.”  The last 6 years have produced record breaking growth for the fraternity.  On March 17th, Josh caught up with Joe for a conversation about KDR’s recruitment success:

Phired Up:  Will you share KDR’s growth numbers over the last 6 years?
Joe:  Here is the report I recently gave our Board of Directors.

REGION        MEMBERS 2007    MEMBERS 2013    GROWTH
Northeast          242                                460                               90%
Central               192                                391                               104%
Midwest             200                               421                               111%
South                 141                                348                               147%
Total                 775                              1620                            109%

Phired Up:  KDR isn’t the only national fraternity with impressive growth numbers….
Joe:  That’s true, but we’re doing it in a different way.  We have a different philosophy.

Phired Up:  What is KDR’s philosophy on growth?
Joe:  Too many people look at growth as being external – as though it can only happen through new chapter expansion.  That’s not 100% true.  Case in point, KDR is not hiring a Director of Expansion.  We are planning to hire a Director of Growth.  Sure we’ll open new groups, that’s a good thing.  But, we’re focused on the growth and success of our existing chapters.  We don’t throw chapters away because of low membership.  We re-invest in them.  The biggest factor impacting our growth is small chapters that are now succeeding.

Phired Up:  For example?
Joe:  We feel like we have an obligation to help our chapters of 20 or fewer members become thriving chapters of 40+ members.  Our Penn State chapter is a great example.  They had 21 members a few years ago.  The organization re-invested in them and helped them learn how to use Dynamic Recruitment to sell KDR’s values.  Today they’re 109 members strong.

Phired Up:  Are you doing any expansions to start KDR chapters on new campuses?
Joe:  The KDR national staff has re/started 9 chapters in the last 5 years.  We’ve also closed 6 chapters during that time.  In some ways this could be considered addition through subtraction.  We aren’t afraid to close a chapter that doesn’t want to play by the rules.  Our expansions make it possible to hold groups accountable, but it also allows us to return to schools where we have dormant chapters.  We choose our expansion opportunities very intentionally.  During my time as Executive Director, we’ve only had one failed expansion project.

Phired Up:  Where did you find the resources to make this investment in growth?
Joe:  Creative partnerships were an important piece of the puzzle.  For example, our alumni groups have stepped up to partner with the national fraternity on campuses like Oregon State and Bucknell.  These are re-colonizations led by the national fraternity, but partially funded by the chapter alumni associations.  The organization is working in cooperation internally.  We’re finding new ways to get to our shared goal of more and better KDR gentlemen.

Phired Up:  Is the organization better because it’s bigger?
Joe:  KDR can do more good because we have more members.

Phired Up:  What is recruitment doing to the bottom line?
Joe:  We have more resources because membership has increased.  The professional staff has grown from 2 to 8 team members who are dedicated to serving our brothers.  We’ve revamped our new member program from traditional pledging to a state of the art member education program called The Legion. The regional meetings have been replaced by a more professional and effective Council’s Academy for newly elected officers.

Phired Up:  Is this the largest KDR has ever been?
Joe:  KDR experienced a membership growth surge a few decades ago.  We grew really fast, then we fell even faster.  Those lessons hurt, but we learned from them.  Growth without proper infrastructure is not sustainable.  We won’t make that mistake again.

Phired Up:  Will you keep growing at this rate?
Joe:  Our Board of Directors established a strategic plan in 2012 with the goal of more than 1400 undergraduates.  We are almost there two years ahead of schedule.  .  What I can tell you is that the experience our members are receiving is world class.  KDR is effectively competing with organizations 3-10 times our membership size.  We’re providing a very personal member experience that our brothers appreciate and at the same time, we’re pushing innovations that advance the interfraternal movement.

Phired Up:  So basically it’s a great time to be a member of Kappa Delta Rho…
Joe:  It’s fun to be part of a winning team, that’s for sure.  KDR’s strategic plan calls for 400 undergraduate members in each of our 4 regions of the country by 2017.  We’re on pace to pass that goal a year ahead of schedule.  That’ll put a smile on everyone’s face.

Interview Date:  March 17, 2014
Interview Conducted By:  Josh Orendi, Josh@PhiredUp.com
Guest:  Joe Rosenberg, Executive Director of Kappa Delta Rho fraternity

Do you think your growth story is worthy of a Spotlight Interview?  Contact us at Info@PhiredUp.com.

Dynamic Recruitment Spotlight Archives:
New #1, Alabama Takes Over as Nations Largest Greek Community | Meet The Fastest Growing Fraternity In The Nation; Alpha Sigma Phi | How Alcohol (or the lack thereof) is Helping One Fraternity Grow Fast

NEW #1, ALABAMA TAKES OVER AS NATION’S LARGEST GREEK COMMUNITY

alabama-logo Dynamic Recruitment Spotlight, June 2012

by Josh Orendi

Wait!  You thought University of Illinois was the largest fraternity and sorority community in the nation? Us, too.  It looks like there’s a new #1.  Roll Tide!

In fall 2011, 7,217 Alabama students proudly wore Greek letters. That’s 28% of the student population on a campus of nearly 27,000 undergrads.  To be fair to our friends at Illinois, Alabama does not have the most chapters.  The Illini still hold that record.  Alabama has 55 chapters and growing … fast.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Kat Gillan, Director of Greek Affairs, and Dr. Lowell Davis, Assistant Dean of Students.  They gave us the inside story on how Alabama’s fraternity and sorority community has more than doubled in size over the last 14 years to become the largest Greek campus in the country.

Phired Up: More than doubled!  Really?
Bama: It’s true.  We’re growing fast.  We’ve more than doubled, nearly tripled in size since 1998.  We’re relentless about tracking around here.  I can give you just about any number you can think of in the last 10 years.

Phired Up: I’d love to see the big picture numbers.
Bama: Here you go.

2011- 2012 Alabama Fraternity & Sorority Community by the Numbers:
26,234 undergraduate student population
7,217 total students in Greek letter organizations
32% of women are affiliated with a sorority
23% of men are affiliated with a fraternity
32 fraternities
24 sororities
98 members average fraternity chapter size
267 members average sorority chapter size (formal recruitment groups)
24 of 27 IFC chapters housed (23 average house capacity)
18 of 18 NPC sororities are housed

Phired Up: With growth like this you must be the target of a lot of expansion and extension inquiries.
Bama: Yes, and we embrace it!  On the women’s side, Delta Gamma (Fall 2011) and Alpha Phi (Fall 2008) recently colonized and we’re eager to open for more sorority extension.  On the men’s side, we have 6 national fraternities scheduled to expand in the next 4 semesters.

Phired Up: Are you scared about growing too fast?
Bama: No. We focus on supporting our existing groups, but we also value what new colonies bring to our campus.  We’d love to have more sororities, but housing is proving to be a challenge since we don’t have existing buildings large enough to hold them.  On the fraternity side, we honor the NIC Standards of open expansion and work with the national fraternity headquarters to create plans that will allow them to better communicate with each other.  That way we can help maximize their success when they believe it’s the right time for their organization to be on our campus.

Phired Up: No doubt we have people reading this article who can’t imagine the size of your average chapters or scale of your total community, but can you speak to the “quality” of your groups?
Bama: I believe that we’re a case study proving that “quality” and “quantity” are not mutually exclusive.  For example, our sorority women have had a GPA above the all-women’s GPA for 84 consecutive years.  Our fraternities and sororities rallied together after the April 27, 2011, tornadoes to establish what became UA Greek Relief – a project that contributed more than 1/3 of the total relief to Alabama families and volunteers in the early weeks of the disaster.  Individual chapters and the UA community as a whole have been recognized for excellence by national organizations and association award panels.  From the classroom to the chapter house and from the community to the brotherhood/sisterhood experience, we’re proud of what we’re seeing.

Phired Up: How big are the largest groups?
Bama: At their largest, Alpha Tau Omega had around 180 men on their chapter roster and Phi Mu had 302 members.  The men’s groups will add approximately 30 members in the fall.  The average sorority will take a new member class of around 100 women.

Phired Up: That thud you heard was my chin hitting the table.  302 members?  100 new members!!?
Bama: [courtesy laughing] Those are big numbers.  We know.  Our office is putting a lot of emphasis on new member education and making sure every member has a quality brotherhood/sisterhood experience.

Phired Up: How big are the houses?
Bama: The newest sorority houses that were recently built are around 40,000 square feet and sleep roughly 70 women.  Most of the men’s facilities are around 27,000 square feet and sleep at least 20 members.  12 new chapter houses have been built on campus since 2008 and nearly every existing chapter house has undergone some level of renovation.

Phired Up: 12 new chapter houses have been built in less than 5 years!  How is that possible?
Bama: The University of Alabama really partners with Greek life in this area.  The University views these houses as additional on-campus housing and has added around 500 new beds to Greek Housing. With increased memberships, the Alumni housing corporations can develop business plans that allow them to financially support the housing projects.

Phired Up: My chin was already on the table, now my eyes are bugging out.  Seriously!?
Bama: It’s happened fast but it didn’t happen overnight.  We’ve been preparing for growth.  The University of Alabama is very pro-Greek.  We believe in the fraternal movement all the way up the chain of command.  We also have amazing Greek alumni and strong vendor partnerships.  For example, Pennington and Company has led nearly every chapter fundraising campaign in the last decade.  They were an important part of helping us craft our current policies.  More recently Laurus group has done a few, too.  We count on our business partners, alumni volunteers, undergraduates, headquarters, and university staff all working together.  It’s working.

Bama: We gotta jump in and highlight something we’re really proud of.  An honorary member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, Dr. Robert Witt [former University President and now UA System Chancellor], is a recent recipient of the NIC Laurel Wreath Award, and UA’s interim President, Dr. Judy Bonner, a member of the Beta Psi Chapter at UA, was instrumental in Delta Gamma’s recent colonization.  We are so blessed to have an administration that is so supportive of Greek life.  That’s critical!  So much of our success would be impossible to re-create without the support we see from the upper administration.

Phired Up: You mentioned “university staff.”  Do you have a large team of campus professionals charged with supporting Greek life?
Bama: [chuckling] No.  We have 3 full-time professional staff members funded by the University and 2 graduate students funded by our Councils.

Phired Up: How are you able to do so much with so few staff members?
Bama: We work really hard, but we also lean heavily on our partnerships with other campus departments.  For example, I think a major part of our growth is due to our close relationship with the Admissions team.

Phired Up: Tell me about that.
Bama: Here are three examples.

1.    Our office collaborates with the UA Office of Undergraduate Admissions and members of the Greek Governing Councils to host out-of-state recruitment events in Texas, Florida, and Georgia.  These Greek-specific events introduce hundreds of incoming students and their parents to our fraternity/sorority members and the idea of joining a Greek organization.

2.    Greek Preview Day has become a huge success, and is now an annual tradition that potential members look forward to attending each year.  This year our IFC and Panhellenic Councils hosted 3,001 incoming students and their parents, providing a weekend full of house tours, meals, information sharing, and building relationships.

3.    The Regional Recruiters who work in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions always help our office identify potential members. When prospective students indicate to their Recruiter that they are interested in Greek life, those students are offered the opportunity to meet with someone from our trained team of Greek Ambassadors.  Last year UA Greek Ambassadors toured 339 students around campus, walked them through Greek housing, and talked to them about the recruitment process.

Phired Up: You’re building a recruitment machine.  How many new members will join this year?
Bama: We’re projecting and planning for 2500+ new members to join the UA Greek community.

Phired Up: Does everyone join in the fall?
Bama: The women use a formally structured recruitment process in the fall. Release Figure Methodology (RFM), which was first implemented in 2005, has worked wonders for our campus. Since 2009, all Panhellenic sororities are consistently achieving Quota and Total. The IFC men’s process is not formal at all.  Most of the fraternities recruit throughout the spring and give bids in the summer.  Incoming students, transfer students, and even upperclassmen can either choose to hold their bids, accept it or decline it.  Our only requirement is that pledging cannot officially begin until the fall semester and no program may last longer than 8 weeks.  Our NPHC and UGC organizations host Membership Intake throughout the year.

Phired Up: So every new member joins in the fall?
Bama: No, but most men join early in the year.  There is also a smaller spring recruitment push in January and February.  Some chapters choose to recruit throughout the year.

Phired Up: How big do you think the Greek Community can get?
Bama: We’re a growing institution.  The goal is for UA to reach 35,000 students by 2020. Our projection is that fraternities and sororities will grow at least as fast as student enrollment.  The Greek Community brings a lot of value to our students, alumni, community, and the culture of The University of Alabama experience.  Given that, there are no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

Phired Up: Roll Tide.
Bama: Roll Tide!

Interview Date: June 11, 2012
Interview Conducted By:  Josh Orendi, Josh@PhiredUp.com
Interviewing Kat Gillan and Dr Lowell Davis

Do you think your growth story is worthy of a Spotlight Interview?  Contact us at Info@PhiredUp.com.

Dynamic Recruitment Spotlight Archives:
•    How Alcohol (or the lack thereof) is Helping One Fraternity Grow Fast
•    Meet the Fastest Growing Fraternity in the Nation: Alpha Sigma Phi 60% Growth Rate Per Year!
•    Social Media Cards – High Point University
•    Sigma Tau Gamma Expansion Recruits 62 Men at Purdue University
•    19 to 90 in 18 Months? (Alpha Gamma Rho, LSU)

Meet the Fastest Growing Fraternity in the Nation … Alpha Sigma Phi, 60% Growth Rate Per Year!

[This post is one of several in a series of "Recruitment Spotlight" articles highlighting successful organizational growth]

by Josh Orendi

alpha_sigma_phi_seal_72dpiIf your reaction to that title was “really!??” or “how is that possible” or “Alpha Sigma who?” you’re not alone. It’s hard to believe that a fraternity founded in 1845 could fly under the interfraternal radar with barely 50 chapters for the last 100 years then suddenly explode on the scene by nearly doubling its chapter count and more than doubling total membership in the last 3 years (that was not a typo, go back and read the last sentence again). Alpha Sig is challenging the status quo of what fraternity growth is supposed to look like. Their high-octane expansion is paired with an innovative support model that is producing sustainable, record breaking results.

I sat down at Starbucks in Carmel, Indiana for an early Wednesday morning interview with Alpha Sig’s Executive Director, Gordy Heminger, and the Director of Chapter & Colony Development, Matt Humberger. These guys are the real deal – full of intensity, passion, focus, and a unified vision. It turns out that’s true of their personal lives as well as their business lives. As I walked in the coffee shop I immediately noticed they were in a forward leaning, heated discussion and to my surprise, they were wearing gym clothes and hoodies complete with Alpha Sigma Phi embroidered baseball caps….

Phired Up: Good morning.

Alpha Sig: [Matt] Hey, Josh, do you know what major league baseball team has the longest streak of failing to make the post season?

Phired Up: I’m guessing you know I’m from Pittsburgh … the Pirates?

Alpha Sig: [Matt] Good guess, but no. They’re the third worst. It’s actually the Washington Nationals. They haven’t made the playoffs in 28 years! Most people wouldn’t guess that because they changed cities from Montreal in 2005…. I love baseball season. By the way, thanks for agreeing to meet with us an hour earlier than our original time.

Phired Up: My pleasure. Are you guys heading to the office from here (sarcastically)?

Alpha Sig: [Gordy] Not until I hit the gym. (looks at his phone) Personal trainer is meeting me in 32 minutes.

Phired Up: I didn’t realize I was on the clock. In that case, let’s jump in. Are the rumors true? I heard a well informed volunteer say 60% growth per year and that Alpha Sigma Phi has doubled in the last three years?

Alpha Sig: (devilish grin) Yes. We’re really proud of the hard work that our undergraduates, professional staff, and volunteers put in the last few years. We’re experiencing unprecedented growth. Here, we brought you the numbers:

Total New Members

2008/09 – 854

2009/10 – 1282

2010/11 – 1330

2011/12 – 923 (Fall only); will be over 1700 new members this year

Total Chapters/Colonies/Interest Groups

2009 – 64

2010 – 76

2011 – 85

2012 – 100

Growth Projection

2013 – 16 new groups

2014 – 16 new groups

2015 – 20 new groups

2016 – 20 new groups

Phired Up: I’m pretty sure these numbers make Alpha Sig the fastest growing fraternity in the country! How did you accomplish in 3 years what hasn’t been done in the organization’s previous 165 years?

Alpha Sig: Our board and staff are focusing our resources – human and financial – on supported growth. In the past we were stretched too thin. Today, we choose to use volunteers or outsource anything that we can’t do with excellence on our own.

Phired Up: You said, “supported growth.” What did you mean by that?

Alpha Sig: We’re proud of the numbers, but Alpha Sig is not a fraternity that goes everywhere and recruits anyone. We have a targeted, intentional approach and we take pride in the experience we provide for each member. Our chapters are receiving unprecedented levels of training and volunteer support.

Phired Up: Are you leveraging technology to do more with less or is there something else?

Alpha Sig: Technology has certainly helped. We were the first NIC fraternity offering cutting edge, online member education through our partnership with Big Fish. Also, we were the first national organization to provide every chapter with a free account with WebGreek for website services and backend chapter management. Oh, and Facebook has been huge. But, mostly we’ve gotten better at connecting our base of alumni with our chapters in a way that both are excited to work together. Our volunteers have taken over doing a lot of things the headquarters staff used to be responsible for – and quite frankly they’re better at it than we ever were. Technology helps but we never forget that we’re in a relationship business.

Phired Up: Tell me more about the volunteer and training pieces.

Alpha Sig: 62% of chapters and colonies attended our Burns Leadership Institute, 97% of chapters attended Academy of Leadership, and the Elevate conference became more professional in design while quadrupling its impact to reach nearly 250 undergraduate members. We’ve responded to the growing needs of our growing membership by more than doubling our professional staff and growing our volunteer network. In fact, the fraternity has increased the number of recognized chapter advisory boards from two in 2009 to 50+ in 2012. The coolest part of that statistic is that our chapter advisory boards now require 6 volunteers as opposed to a requirement of 3 in the past. Only a handful of chapters just have one advisor so even the chapters that don’t have a recognized chapter advisory board have more than one volunteer involved in supporting the group. Our standards and support model are increasing at the same time we are increasing our membership.

Phired Up: So this isn’t all about getting as big as you can as quick as you can through expansion?

Alpha Sig: No! We’re serving our current chapters at a high level and offering hands on recruitment help to those in need. Since 2009 we’ve helped 7 chapters with a headquarters led recruitment. We’re working hard to make sure our growth is sustainable for new and existing chapters. In fact, our retention rates are up in our expansion efforts from roughly 75% in 2009 to nearly 93% this past year. To be blunt, we’re recruiting better men at the same time we’re recruiting more men, and we’re giving them all a better fraternity experience.

Back Story & Disclosure: Phired Up co-founders Matt Mattson & Josh Orendi served on the Alpha Sigma Phi national fraternity staff as Leadership Consultants and Directors of Expansion between 1999-2002. Gordy was a Leadership Consultant on the professional staff (and Josh’s roommate) from 1999-2000.

Phired Up: Why now? Gordy, what is Alpha Sig doing different now than when you and I served on staff after college – let alone the 150+ years before then?

Alpha Sig: Here’s one big difference: We rarely hire guys right out of college. Today, Alpha Sig’s consultant team includes a guy with a law degree, a past employee in sales, and a guy with business experience. We only have one staff member that joined staff straight from his undergrad experience. Five members of our team have master’s degrees and Four members of our headquarters staff have masters degrees in higher education … three are former Greek Advisors. That’s important since 87% of our chapters received visits from headquarters this academic year.

Phired Up: What!? That hiring model is so different from what Alpha Sig used to do, and it’s very different from the traditional consultant/expansion model of other fraternity headquarters.

Alpha Sig: We’re hiring professionals to do professional work. We’ve recently hired two staff members who are not members – Tabatha Sarco and Danny Miller. We like that type of diversity of thought and experience. We think the number of staff members we have with higher education degrees and Greek advising backgrounds puts us in a position to better understand how we can improve upon the partnerships we have with our host institutions.

Phired Up: I feel like Alpha Sig has been under the interfraternal radar. How have you been able to keep all this success and change a secret?

Alpha Sig: We haven’t been trying to keep it a secret. We just weren’t talking about it. We wanted to wait until we had evidence and a story to tell before we started sharing what we’ve learned. And, to be completely honest, we’ve just been too busy doing the work to realize others didn’t know what we were doing.

Phired Up: Is there anything you know today that you wish you had known three years ago?

Alpha Sig: I wish we would have started with our 4 step process for expansion from the beginning.

Phired Up: Four step process. What is that?

Alpha Sig: We have a 4 stage business model for new groups. There are benchmarks with each step. The biggest change was moving initiation before chartering. We stopped treating colonies and interest groups like “pledges” for 2 years before they could charter. Now we train and educate new groups the same way we want them to educate new members. We’re modeling the way so they’re operating like a successful Alpha Sig chapter from the very beginning.

Phired Up: Let me tee one up for you. Hundreds of campus professionals are likely to read this article. Why should a campus pursue Alpha Sig for expansion?

Alpha Sig: Expansion – when done right – is good for the entire fraternity community. Here are three things we like to share with campuses we’re considering for expansion. 1) We have a track record of success so the IFC and campus can feel confident we’ll produce results in quantity and quality. 2) We have a five year support model for new groups so schools know we’re committed for the long haul. 3) Alpha Sig is committed to deep campus partnerships – so much so that we have four staff members with professional higher education backgrounds.

Phired Up: I’ve heard you talk about the last few years as “transformative” for Alpha Sigma Phi. What has been the biggest challenge?

Alpha Sig: Getting people to believe has been harder than we imagined. Our own alumni have been some of the hardest to win over. We’ve literally had conversations that sound like they belong in an undergrad chapter meeting. Long time alumni volunteers have told me, “I don’t want us to get too big … we’ll have to sacrifice brotherhood/quality.” In my opinion, they’re not choosing to see opportunities. They’re letting our past or fear of the future control our destiny. Fear is hard to overcome! I believe one measure of our success as an organization is the number of men’s lives we are positively impacting. When we grow, we fulfill our mission. Alpha Sig’s motto is “To Better The Man.” If we can give the gift of fraternity and better more men’s lives, the only question we should be asking is “why aren’t we doing more of that.”

Phired Up: What next? Now that you’ve made such a big splash in such a short period of time, what’s next?

Alpha Sig: This is very much the beginning, not the end. We’re just getting started. Now that we have a winning formula – high caliber staff, strong alumni support, great campus partnerships, and a consistent recruitment system – we’re ready to step on the gas. On top of the seven re-organized chapters, we’ve opened 41 groups since 2009 and the goal is to have 180 chapters and colonies by the end of 2016. That’s roughly 10 per semester. We know we still have a lot to learn and our model will continue to evolve.

Phired Up: If Alpha Sig can turn around a franchise that’s nearly two centuries old, do you think my Pittsburgh Pirates can see a playoff birth in 2012?

Alpha Sig: You’re probably better off hoping the Washington Nationals have another rough year.

Phired Up: That’s cruel.

Written by: Josh Orendi

Interview Date: March 28, 2012

Interviewer: Josh Orendi

Interviewed: Matt Humberger, Gordy Heminger

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How to Talk to Buttheads

by Josh Orendi

Inspired by the new ESPN ads with a guy who literally talks out of his ass, I offer you these typical remarks by fraternity buttheads and a couple rebuttals that should help them “put a cork in it.”
ButtHead (BH): I don’t want the chapter to get too big.
A) If 50 men of your quality or better were interested in joining, how many do you think we should turn away? ” so what you’re really saying is that you’re not willing to do the work to get that many guys.

BH: If the chapter gets much bigger, we’ll lose our brotherhood.
A) If the chapter gets much smaller, we won’t be able to cover your failure to pay your dues.
B) Should we call our chapter at XYZ University and tell them to kick out 1/2 their membership so they have a “tighter” brotherhood like us?

BH: This chapter is about quality not quantity.
A) Quantity drives Quality. The more men we have to choose from, the more selective we can be.
B) Right now we give bids to nearly 1/2 of the men we get to know. That’s not being highly selective.

BH: This school is anti-Greek and trying to get rid of fraternities.
A) If that were true, would they pay a full time Greek life staff, provide housing, support our programming, and put up with 1/2 the stupid things we do? Maybe they just want us to live up to the standards we set for ourselves.
B) What would you tell the Board of Trustees if they asked you how Greeks support the mission of the university?

BH: We need to get more kids to the house.
A) We need to get the brothers OUT of the house and onto campus.
B) Good idea. Let’s go meet some new people right now.

BH: It’s not fair that everyone has a spotlight on Greeks. We’re treated different than other student groups.
A) That might be because we took a voluntary oath to live to standards that are higher than our peers. We told the community we were going to perform at a higher level. They’re just holding us accountable.
BH: Well you never see the newspaper talking about all the positive stuff we do ” like service hours, philanthropy dollars, and academic achievement.
A) Those things are part of why we exist. I also don’t see them writing an article on English majors writing a collection of poems, janitors collecting garbage around campus, or cafeteria workers offering unlimited servings of hash browns.
B) Service hours and Philanthropy dollars are not credits toward breaking the rules/law.
BH: These kids need to earn their letters.

A) Funny. I don’t remember that from our ritual book. I thought the only requirements for membership involved making a commitment to respecting each other and living up to our shared values. Would you help me find the passage on “earning the letters?”

BH: We can’t shorten the pledge period or these guys will never learn their stuff.
A) How long was the pledge period for our founding fathers? Oh yeah, they didn’t have one and they seemed to do alright.
B) Are you concerned that a 19-year-old man can’t learn the Greek alphabet in 8 weeks or that you won’t have someone to do your bitch work after spring break?