by Matt Mattson
This blog post explores what it might take for 5 guys in a fraternity to create a chapter that has… a) 50 members, and b) a 90% rejection rate (that means they only choose the best 10% of the people they build relationships with). That's quantity and quality.
The Rule of 40% What do you think?
I recently worked with the staff of Delta Chi Fraternity. They're an incredible group of guys led by an experienced, wise, and well-respected executive, Ray Galbreth. Ray and I were talking about some of the truths of fraternity recruitment, and he hit me with his rule of 40% which I thought was spot on. This rule is simply about what you must do in order to grow to and maintain your ideal chapter size.
Ray suggested that many chapter leaders think that if they want a 40 man chapter, they should initiate 10 men a
year. 10 men x 4 years of college should equal 40 men, right? Wrong.
In fact, as Ray pointed out, his experience has proven that if a chapter wants to be 40 men, they need to initiate, at a minimum, 40% of their ideal chapter size each year (40 x .40 = 16). In order to account for attrition (drop outs, grade issues, etc.), this is the magic formula to determine your minimum initiation number each year.
Want to be a 50 man chapter? Initiate at least 20 guys each year.
Want to be a 100 man chapter? Initiate at least 40 guys each year.
The Rule of 50%
Another percentage-based rule we've found to be true is the Rule of 50%. I've never met a chapter that didn't agree with this rule… It is just true. As it turns out (and think about this for your chapter), about 1/2, or 50% of all the men that a) get to know you well, and b) get to know your fraternity, typically end up joining. Think about it. This is just a basic, universal truth.
Of course this reveals two important pieces of information… 1) You must be pretty nice because 1/2 of the people that get to know you and your fraternity are willing to get down on one knee, raise their right hand, and promise to be your brother forever. 2) If you initiated 12 guys last year, that probably means you built a meaningful relationship with about 24 guys max… Out of the hundreds, and in most cases, thousands of potential members at your school, your whole chapter was able to make friends with 24 dudes. Imagine if you had built a relationship with, say, 48 guys.
Sounds like you don't have a recruitment problem, you have a friendship problem.
Recruitment Funnel Math
Let's apply these rules and the Dynamic Recruitment model to see what all this math tells us. Let's assume, just for fun, that you want to be a 50 man chapter that is full of the highest quality guys. In order to do this you’d need to be a group that is pretty selective, right? After all, you only want the best guys on campus. Let's see what it takes to make this come true.
The rule of 40% says you need to initiate at least 20 guys this year (and each year after this year). Great.
The rule of 50% says you need to build meaningful relationships as a chapter with at least 40 guys this year (20 of them just won't want to join you).
You probably also want to be a selective chapter full of only the highest quality men (using a Values-Based Selection Process). In order to do that, you probably want to only choose the top 10% of the prospects you meet… that's a standard anyone could be very proud of. So let's say you really need 400 meaningful relationships.
O.K., that's a lot, but it is do-able. Your chapter can hang out with 400 guys this year. What else do we know? Well, in order to build meaningful relationships, we know we need to engage in small activities with people. How many people do we need to invite to small activities in order to get 400 to actually participate with us? Well, we've found that you can probably engage in relationship-building activities consistently with about 75% of your names list, which means you need at least a 534 person Names List in order to consistently and selectively initiate 20 people a year and have a strong 50 man chapter made of only the absolute highest quality people.
There's your recruitment goal… Can your chapter brothers shake hands with and meet 534 men in the course of a
year? I’ll assume your chapter only has 5 guys that do any work, and your school has 30 weeks of classes. Each of your members would have to shake hands with 107 men during the course of the entire school year. That's 3.6 handshakes a week.
Can you meet 4 people this week? Seriously… 4 people. Meet one person a day during the week and take Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. Enjoy your weekend.
If you and 4 brothers can shake 4 hands per week consistently, you’ll have a 50 man chapter made up of the best men on campus. You’ll have a 10% acceptance rate / 90% rejection rate (a ratio any competitive university would brag about). You’ll likely have very few member behavior problems because of your selectivity. You’ll have 350 guys begging to be in your chapter each year that you have to say “no” to and have to put on a waiting list. You’ll never have dues collection problems again because you screen your members for eligibility during the selection process (in fact, you could raise your dues and buy that big fraternity RV with your letters on it you've always wanted). You’ll probably win a ton of awards from your school and inter/national headquarters. Sororities will beg to hang out with you because of the caliber of men you're selecting. You’ll be seen as the model for all fraternities across the country. You get the picture.
4 handshakes per week.
Math is fun, isn't it?
Some might argue that this is oversimplified… O.K., that's fair. But let me ask you these two questions.
1. Does your chapter currently have at least 534 names on its Names List? At least 90% of the groups I've talked to across the country would answer, ‘no.’ If that includes you, give this whole 4 handshakes/week a chance and see what it does for you.
2. Does your chapter currently reject 90% of the people it builds solid relationships with? Again, the vast majority of the fraternity chapters I've talked to reject maybe 3-10 people at most each year during their membership selection process. If you were truly operating at a 90% rejection rate as a chapter… now that would be high quality.
The truth is, if this scenario is at least a little bit true but you and four brothers were able to shake hands with 10 guys a week, and you operated on an 80% rejection rate, you could initiate 300 men each year.
The missing link between your current reality and 300 initiates a year is simply the amount of handshakes you make each week and how you build friendships with those people.
How many hands will you shake today?