Speed, accountability and organization. Matthew Sauchell and Aaron Varnau, members of the Acacia Fraternity at Purdue University, used those three words to describe the way ChapterBuilder has transformed the way they recruit. In addition to utilizing the ChapterBuilder technology, their chapter is a member of the Phired Up coaching community. Through that coaching, the chapter has worked closely with Josh Orendi, Phired Up’s co-owner and chief business development officer, to implement strategies such as a scholarship program to not just grow their chapter, but to double in size.
Phired Up: How would you describe the role of a recruitment officer to someone unfamiliar with the role?
Matthew Sauchell: I think it’s someone who has a good understanding of organizing people toward a common goal.
Aaron Varnau: I’d say you have to be really organized as well. It’s finals week for us right now and our current recruitment chairman is texting who knows how many kids at Purdue to go get ice cream with our chapter this Friday. For him to be doing that on top of his finals… And he’s already put together a scholarship and going through the Class of 2025 freshmen page and privately messaging any freshmen guys he can find a scholarship link. And he’s got a whole group of guys helping with that. It takes a lot of organization to do next year’s recruitment starting in March.
Phired Up: That’s a really great point because it’s easy to see how some might think, “Well, the school year is basically over, so what’s the point?” Or, “We’re good for the year. We’ll tackle this in August.” I’d love to hear more thoughts on how it’s been beneficial to not drop the ball just because it’s the end of the year, but to see that there’s opportunities to grow every day.
MS: Prior to working with Josh, we were a 23 or 24-man house with a terrible culture. No one knew how to do anything. It was a pretty toxic atmosphere. Josh coming in helped us realize what we could do if we did a continuous recruitment throughout the year, if we started a scholarship, if we reached out to alumni more, if we did all these things, they could culminate into something great that we can appreciate–something that’s actually worthwhile. Ever since then, we’ve almost doubled the size of the house.
Our recruitment strategy through the end of my sophomore year was to worry about fall recruitment in August and spring recruitment in January. Our whole recruitment strategy was to put chalk around campus and get friends from our dorms. It was a mess–we had no idea what we were doing.
Phired Up: For chapters who might currently be doing it how you used it, what would you say to them about the new approach you’ve taken?
AV: One of the biggest things we struggled with was meeting kids during week one of recruitment and trying to bid them during week two or three, but there’s a lot of other houses that contacted them over the summer, so these guys had already met the people in other houses. So we were trying to build relationships with them in a week that they had for weeks, if not months, with several other houses. So with this strategy we have now, if we start contacting people in March, we’ve already reached out to hundreds of phone numbers and lots more guys on Instagram and email. High school guidance counselors send out our scholarship, and Purdue sends it out too. So by the time it’s all said and done, we’ve had contact with every single guy coming to Purdue, and that’s happened by the end of May. It’s a lot of time, but it’s not hard work. Just sitting down in January and having an organization meeting, you can have contact with thousands of people and you get higher quality recruits from that too.
MS: If you see yourself and your organization wanting to grow and possibly get better, you’re going to need to start doing things differently–start recruiting earlier, start organizing earlier, start having more of a defined plan. You can either be the fraternity that starts five months early and gets ahead or you can be the guys who show up on campus and try to meet people–it’s a lot harder and you might not get as high of quality candidates.
Phired Up: You shared that it’s not hard work, but it does take time, and I think that’s where Chapter Builder really comes in. Can you share how Chapter Builder has streamlined the process of contacting hundreds of individuals and made it less overwhelming?
MS: ChapterBuilder is definitely a huge asset for our fraternity. I can’t imagine making a spreadsheet and figuring it all out. You upload all your PNMs [to ChapterBuilder] and once they’re in there, we divide them up between the brothers and have them start messaging.
AV: Yeah, it’s not that much work. ChapterBuilder will let you send a mass text to all the PNMs. It’s so easy–there’s so little work involved. And the recruitment chairman can see the notes and see which brothers are doing their part.
MS: It’s a good way to hold people accountable.
Phired Up: You mentioned not being able to imagine trying to manage that process in a spreadsheet. What would you say to someone who is trying to use a spreadsheet to manage it alland might not know how this is different?
MS: I’d say with a spreadsheet, you have to organize it. Chapter Builder organizes itself. It’s way simpler.
Phired Up: Anything else you’d want other recruitment chairs to know?
AV: Because of Chapter Builder, we’re now the chapter that’s getting these good guys and we’re not picking up the scraps in September because we didn’t want to start early. ChapterBuilder has helped us turn everything around.