Jul 24, 2013

20 Ways to Ruin Your First Impression with Guests

The first impression truly is a lasting impression.  Make a bad first impression with guests and they're probably not coming back.  "Follow up" normally can't overcome a bad first impression.

So if you want to ruin your first impression with guests...here's how...

Make them guess where to go.  Don't have any signage on the outside or inside of the building.  They'll figure it out.

Give them the worst parking spot.  Save the best parking for staff and members.

Place unfriendly people as greeters.  Give them the experience of being greeted by the wicked witch of the west.

Make them wait in long lines.  It will teach them patience, right?

Tell them where to go instead of walking them there. 
Again...they can figure it out.

Ignore them.  Just look at them like they are an alien.

Don't talk to them.  Stay engaged in conversation with your huddle of friends.  If they come long enough, they'll eventually make some friends.

Make them feel like they are a bother.  If they ask you a question, answer the question, but let them know by your demeanor that you are busy and they are bothering you.

Put their children in an overcrowded room.  Ratios don't matter.  Pack'em in with a grin.

Don't ask if their children have allergies.  If they have allergies, it will become obvious when they have a reaction.

Don't have a secure check-in/check-out system in place.  They know who their kids are and they'll point them out to you at check-out.

Tell them they are sitting in your seat.  You've sat in that seat since 1965.  You donated the money for it and your name is on a plaque at the end of the pew.  They can find somewhere else to sit.

Talk at them instead of to them.  "Hi" and "welcome" are enough.  You don't have time for any meaningful conversation.  You've got to beat everyone else to the restaurant buffet.

Don't bend any rules for them.  Check-in for children closed 5 minutes ago.  They should have gotten here on time if they wanted to check-in their children.

Ask if they want to volunteer. 
You're desperate for volunteers and they are breathing.  Go ahead and ask them.  It doesn't matter if it's their first visit.

Don't have anyone who looks like them or is in the same season of life.
  Limit your congregation to one ethnicity and age range.

Return their child with an unchanged diaper. 
They can change the diaper themselves. 

Point them out during the service.  Have them raise their hands or better yet...stand up.

Smother them.  Be like a used car salesman.  Let them know you are here to "close the deal" on them joining your church.

Be solemn and serious. 
This is God's house.  Don't smile or even think about laughing or telling a joke.  You want to let them know how spiritual your church is.

Your turn.  What are some other ways to ruin your first impression with guests?


Make a comment on how they are dressed. I mean, an unchurched person knows what is appropriate, right?
Ask them to join the chior. "Aw, come on! We always need more singers up here!"

Don't give them any information about where their kids should go, how the check-in process works, where the washrooms are located, etc... Parents just love to be kept in the dark!

I have to admit, I'm always nervous about interacting with guests. I'm friendly and take them to the classes, but beyond that... I don't know where to go with conversation! The guest don't usually seem very chatty and I don't want to smother them. :) Ideas?


Lindsey, that is such a great question. I also have had to work on that. I've learned some things from watching other people who are good at it. I'll do a post next week on the topic. Thanks for sharing.

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