Shelly Spiegel

CEO & Chief Creative Officer

At Fire Engine RED, our client retention rate is on track to hit an all-time high. And colleges are moving to us in record numbers. So I suppose, with all of this success, I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s caught the attention of our competition.

In fact, one of our competitors recently hired a firm to “investigate” why so many of their clients are switching to Fire Engine RED. To me, that sounds like a really expensive and time-consuming exercise!

So in the interest of full transparency, I’ve decided to reveal the “secrets” of our Student Search success, absolutely free of charge, to anyone and everyone who wants to know.

We believe in “fit.”
Over the years, we’ve gotten really good at identifying which schools are the right fit for Fire Engine RED. When we think of “fit,” it’s all about finding a match between the school’s leadership team and our strategic approach, not in terms of the prestige, size, or type of school. And better client fit has led to better client retention.

We put our clients first, not profits.
Fire Engine RED is a privately owned company, which allows us to focus on our clients’ success and prioritize their interests. In contrast, many of our competitors are publicly traded or owned by private equity firms, and must put investors first. Sure, we want to make money, but we do so by focusing on getting our clients results. And speaking of results …

We’re getting great results for our clients.
For the 2016-2017 Search cycle, our Senior Search clients have achieved an average return of 21.6 times their investment (on newly purchased names) in net revenue. These are the kind of results that have helped us retain our clients, and are fueling the growth of Fire Engine RED as our happy clients spread the word.

We provide our clients with better results for less money.
Our goal has never been to compete on price; however, many of our clients have told us that our prices are 30%-40% lower than their former vendors’. What’s driving their savings?

The key is that our Search service is very strategic, which ensures we only purchase the names of students most likely to apply and enroll.

Here’s an example from last Search cycle: for one client, we purchased 29.8% fewer names year over year. Although it resulted in 24.3% fewer inquiries, it also resulted in:

  • 10.3% more applications
  • 16% more admitted students
  • 10.5% more enrolled students
  • A return of 52 times on their first-year Search investment in net revenue

We also saved our client a total of $155,478, simply by NOT purchasing the names of, or marketing to, students who were unlikely to apply and enroll at their school.

We focus on what’s most important.
Honesty and transparency are core values of ours. We’re dedicated to providing our clients with the data they need to make better decisions, faster. Another of our core values is simplicity. We’ve simplified our reporting to ensure that everyone on the client side understands their data (and I’m happy to “report” that they actually do).

We continue to innovate.
Last Search cycle, we ran a wide variety of A/B tests; we’re applying what we learned to help all of our clients, and we’re developing even more tests to use in the coming cycle. This is just one example of how we’re working hard behind the scenes to build on our clients’ success, year after year. At Fire Engine RED, the innovation never stops.

We hire (and retain) great people.
Because we’re a 100% remote company with no central office, we’re able to attract and retain the very best people, no matter where they live. Our Search team has had virtually no turnover; they’ve worked together for years and have perfected the “art and science” of delivering Search. Our team understands our clients and the unique challenges they face; they’re also able to develop custom strategies to help our clients build on their previous-year successes!

We have a CEO who’s very engaged.
Our commitment to our Search clients starts at the top. As CEO, I spend about 50% of my time with our Search team, strategizing and working “in the trenches” to help improve their outcomes. I also keep close tabs on how all our clients’ campaigns are doing. If you’re a client and you run into me in an airport (or see me at NACAC!), ask me about your Search efforts. I’ll be happy to fill you in!

We really care about our clients.
At Fire Engine RED, another one of our core values is empathy. Although this may sound a bit hokey, we actually care – really, really care – about our clients and go out of our way to show (not just tell) them how much we care about their success.

There you have it: a formula for success that can’t be copied.
Our competitors can try to imitate us, but in the end, our formula for success can’t be duplicated. That’s because it’s deeply embedded in our values, our approach, our people, our culture, and our ongoing, unparalleled commitment to our clients.