Make the Last Impression a Lasting One

It's important to make a good first impression with guests who attend your church. Churches that are strategic put a lot of thought and intentionality into making guest families feel welcome when they first walk on campus.

But many times we overlook the power of making a good last impression. A poor last impression can nullify a good first impression. A good last impression can greatly enhance a good first impression. 

The last few minutes a guest family spends on your campus will be a big part of what they remember about the experience.

Here's some tips on making a good last impression on new families whom God sends your way.

Have appropriate background music playing. Music is such a potent mood setter. What emotions do you want families to experience when they are leaving. Fun? Relaxed? Reflective? Worshipful? Pick songs that will help evoke those emotions.

I injected the word "appropriate" because the music should match the time of day and environment. Fun, peppy music in your elementary area might be a good fit while slower, calming music might be a good fit for your nursery area. Fast, up tempo music might be the best fit for a service in the middle of the day while slower, relaxed music might be the best fit for people leaving an evening service.

Disney is a master at matching music to the emotion they want you to experience. They open their parks in the morning with medium tempo, anticipatory music. When you are leaving their parks late at night you will exit to relaxing, reflective music. The music is not being played randomly, but with careful thought and planning.

Quick pick-up time. People hate waiting in lines. Just go to the DMV and look around. You won't see many smiling faces. You don't want a families' last thoughts to be about waiting in a long line. Evaluate your pick-up process and logistics. What can you do to shorten the pick-up times?

Clean diapers. Make sure all babies and toddlers have a clean diaper on. Put a sticker on the diaper that says "I was changed." Provide the diapers. You never know when a family in need may be down to their last few diapers. That small act of kindness will leave a great last impression.

Incident reports. Kids are going to fall down, hurt their finger, bite their lip, get scratched, and even get bitten occasionally. When incidents like this occur, it's important to let the parent know what happened when they pick up their child. I would strongly encourage you to have an incident report that is filled out. Explain in writing exactly what happened. Review it with the parent and have them sign it. Doing this will leave a better last impression than the parent getting home and discovering the injury without being told up front.

Guest services staffed. Many parents will come out of a service with questions. It may have been something about Children's Ministry they read in the worship guide or heard about during announcements. Walking up to an empty guest services counter will not leave a good last impression. Have it staffed so people can get answers, sign-up for events or classes, etc.

Fun factor. Kids love to have fun. Do you have a playground? Maybe a game room? A cafe or fellowship hall? Think about opening them up after service. Give families a place to hang out together. Let parent's last impression be watching their kids have fun, spending time with their kids over a game of air hockey, or sharing a meal together.

Exit greeters. A friendly, smiling person holding the door open and thanking families for coming can make a great last impression.

Traffic flow. Have clear directional flow for people who are driving off your property. Think through the best traffic exit flow. Have volunteers who are in the parking lot directing traffic if needed.

Good-by signs. As you drive out of Disneyworld, this is the sign you see.

Place signs in strategic places that let people know you're glad they came and want them to return. We have placed signs that say "We love you...come back soon" at many of our key exit doors.

Want to see the return rate of new families go up at your church? Then focus on the first and last impression. This will enable you to truly make a "lasting" impression.

What do you do to make a good last impression with families? Would love to hear any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions you may have to add.

Posted by Dale Hudson