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Cut Admissions Meeting No-Show Rates by 50% with This Simple Strategy

Is your admissions process letting prospective students fall through the cracks? Are you frustrated by the number of no-shows to scheduled appointments with your admissions team?

On average, 26% of prospective students do not answer the call when the appointment time rolls around. That means 26% of your potential students could be slipping through the cracks at this crucial part of your admissions process!

In this article, you’ll learn strategies to increase appointment attendance to improve your admissions conversion rates. Specifically, we’ll dive into:

  • What an admissions contact cadence is
  • How contact cadences can improve appointment attendance rates
  • Strategies for appointment confirmation and no-show cadences
  • Best practices for using contact cadences in your admissions process

After reading, you’ll understand how to implement proven contact cadences to decrease your admissions appointment no-show rate.

What Is an Admissions Contact Cadence?

A contact cadence is the systematic sequence of engagements or follow-ups used by an admissions representative or team to engage with prospective students. It guides your admissions representatives by creating a predictable and consistent series of actions for each significant step in the admissions process.

When focusing on improving appointment attendance rates, institutions should use two specific contact cadences:

  • Appointment Confirmation Cadences increase interview completions by effectively communicating the scheduled appointment time and sending reminders to confirm the appointment.
  • No-Show Loop Cadences proactively re-engage prospective students who didn’t answer the call at the set appointment time.

At Enrollment Builders, we tailor and execute contact cadences for our clients by combining  SMS, email, calls, and voicemails to create a consistent, streamlined experience for prospective students. Using these proven contact cadence strategies, our clients have decreased their appointment no-show rate from 26% to 10%.

Let’s dive into how Enrollment Builders uses Appointment Confirmation and No-Show Loop cadences with our clients to increase appointment attendance rates.

How to Implement an Admissions Appointment Confirmation Cadence

Increasing interview completion and driving more enrollments begins the moment we book an appointment for your admissions team.

When booking an admissions appointment, our team will:

  • Send a text telling the prospective student to be on the lookout for an appointment
  • Send a calendar invite with information about what to expect during the appointment

At this time, our team will typically transition the responsibilities of further confirmation to your admissions counselors.

When your admissions counselor attempts to confirm an appointment, they are fighting for the attention of a prospective student who is inundated by distractions—school, work, friends, and competing institutions.

The key to increasing your enrollment is equipping your admissions counselor to reach distracted prospects and stand out from competing schools. This is when your Appointment Confirmation Cadence starts!

What Does an Appointment Confirmation Contact Cadence Look Like?

First Attempt to Confirm, the Day Before the Appointment

Send out a day-before email reminder, followed by a text message. In our experience, we find it’s most effective to send these as late in the day as possible.

Sample Text: “Good evening [Contact Name]! This is [AC Name] with The University of [xyz]. We’re scheduled to talk tomorrow at [hour with associated timezone]. I look forward to hearing more about you.”

If the prospective student replies to confirm, update their contact record to reflect the confirmation.

Second Attempt to Confirm, the Day of the Appointment

If your first attempt was unconfirmed, send a reminder text the morning of the appointment.

Sample Text: “Good morning [Contact Name]! I will call you at [time] on the number I have for you: [phone number]. If anything comes up or you are running a bit behind, send me a text here to let me know. Talk soon!”

If the prospective student confirms, update the contact record to reflect the confirmation.

Make the Call at the Scheduled Appointment Time

Whether or not the prospective student has confirmed the appointment, it’s crucial your team calls at the exact appointment time.

In most cases, the prospective student will answer the call, and your admissions counselor will have an excellent conversation to discuss the process and plan the next steps.

However, if there was no answer when your team called, all is not lost.

First Attempt to Connect if Unanswered

If there is no answer, leave a voicemail and send a text message to the student.

Sample Voicemail: “Hi [Contact Name]. This is [AC Name] with The University of [Enrollment Builders]. I’m calling for our scheduled admissions appointment. Does this time still work for you? You can call or text me back at this number. I’m flexible and happy to reschedule at a time that works better for you if needed. I’ll call back within the next few minutes to see if I can catch you. Hope to talk to you soon.”

Second Attempt to Connect if Unanswered

If there was no response to the voicemail or text, attempt to call again after 5 minutes. If there is no answer this time, there is no need to leave a voicemail again. 

How to Implement an Admissions No-Show Loop Cadence

If neither phone attempt is answered and there is no response for 10 minutes after the appointment time, your team should update the contact’s status to “No-Show” in your system.

Updating a lead to a “No-Show status” indicates that it’s time to initiate a No-Show Loop for that prospective student.

While the need for a No-Show Loop Contact Cadence means your odds of admitting that particular student are lower overall, it’s in your best interest to ensure these students know your school is still interested in enrolling them.

What is an Example No-Show Loop Contact Cadence for Higher Ed Admissions?

At Enrollment Builders, our No-Show Loop for clients includes five consecutive days of daily phone and text outreach attempts to prospective students.

Sample Text: “Hello [Name], this is [AC Name] with The University of [Enrollment Builders]. I’m sorry I was unable to connect with you for your scheduled admissions appointment. I know that your educational pursuits are important to you, and life can be very busy! Can I reschedule your appointment for a more convenient time? When would you like to connect?”

If connected, we will warm-transfer the student directly to your admissions team or schedule another appointment.

If there is no contact after the five re-engagement attempts, we will inform your admissions team and continue working with other prospective student leads.

Best Practices for Using Contact Cadences to Improve Appointment Attendance Rates

While we’ve outlined the basics of how you can improve communication around admissions appointments, there are some best practices to keep in mind before getting started:

  • Expect your team to call the student at the exact appointment time.
  • Use multiple communication methods for the highest chance of response.
  • Use a system that allows you to call and text from the same number to avoid confusing your prospective students.
  • Choose appropriate outreach times based on your student population. For example, adult or working students may be more likely to respond at different times than high school students.
  • Test and optimize the length of time between your outreach attempts.
  • Review message copy regularly and be aware of the level of urgency and pushiness in the messages.

By following these tips, you can improve this part of your admissions process more effectively and see better results.

Challenges Admissions Teams Face When Trying to Implement These Strategies

While using Appointment Confirmation and No-Show contact cadences is an excellent enrollment management strategy, there are some challenges you may encounter with implementation. The most common challenges admissions teams face with these strategies are:

  • Bandwidth Issues - If your team already has challenges contacting every prospective student or if you’ve had significant staff turnover, implementing this strategy on your own could prove difficult.
  • Technology Limitations - Some admissions teams lack the technology to use SMS messaging. If your students receive text messages from a different phone number than you call them from, it can cause confusion and uncertainty.
  • Balancing the Work Between Engaged Prospects and No-Shows - Along with the potential bandwidth challenges, asking your staff to work leads who no-showed a scheduled appointment is a big ask. Your team would rather focus on valuable, relationship-building conversations with engaged prospective students - not chasing down a lead who may not truly be interested.
  • Lack of Data Structure & Accountability - If you don’t have the proper data model implemented in your CRM, it’s difficult to ensure that leads are worked consistently. This makes it difficult to maintain accountability and have effective performance management.

By understanding these potential challenges, you can plan ahead before adding these contact cadences to your admissions outreach strategy.

Work with an Admissions Partner to Implement Proven Contact Cadence Strategies

Now that you understand how to use contact cadences to improve your admissions appointment attendance rates, you’re probably wondering:

When my team is already spread thin, how will we find the bandwidth to implement these processes? Should we try to do this work ourselves or find an outsourced admissions partner?

Admissions leaders like you often outsource part of the admissions process so their team can focus on engaging with the most qualified prospective students.

If your admissions team struggles to manage and keep appointments with students, consider working with a higher education contact center like Enrollment Builders.

We have established contact cadence strategies that you can implement in a matter of weeks without straining your admissions team.

Schedule a call with an admissions expert to determine how many enrollments you’re missing from lack of contact and follow up with your current leads: