Archives For guests

The Sunday experience

Ben Reed —  April 4, 2011 — 4 Comments

My wife and I ate at a nice, swanky restaurant recently.

We felt like we were eating food that could be served on the Food Network. ¬†Which is a far stretch from what we normally eat. ¬†I learned what amuse bouche is (I had a pan-seared sea scallop with a slice of grapefruit, in warm vanilla sauce). ¬†I had rillette and risotto…both of which I had to Google to know what they were. ¬†The food was unbelievably good.

And as impressed as we were with the food, we were equally impressed with the service.  5 things stood out:

  1. We made our reservations online. ¬†We’d never made online reservations for a restaurant before, but this process was incredibly easy. ¬†We felt served even before we arrived at the restaurant.
  2. Our waitress was cross-trained.  She served our food, and could also talk us through the complimentary flavors, the local farms where they purchase their meat, and the precise way that each of our dishes was prepared.
  3. Our waitress wasn’t our only server…when we needed something, any server walking by would attend to our needs.
  4. I got up to use the restroom, and when I returned, my napkin was refolded and placed back on top of the table.
  5. The chef was feeling generous, and gave us a free tasting of his newest soup.

In short, it felt like the whole evening was about serving us, like we were truly honored guests. ¬†And shouldn’t we be treated guests like that on Sunday morning in our churches? ¬†Do we really offer that same level of service? ¬†Because there are lessons to be learned here, whether your church is strong or weak when it comes to your Sunday morning experience.

Principles for serving on Sundays

  • Look for ways to surprise your guests with generosity. We paid a lot for our meal, but the fact that we felt served made us think less about the cost, and more about the experience. ¬†And if “time is money,” then the people visiting your churches are “paying” a lot. ¬†Make it worth their time.
  • Cross-train your volunteers and staff members. Our waitress cared about our entire experience, not just getting her tip. ¬†And healthy team members know that, while their area of service may be primary for them, there’s a lot more that goes into a given person’s experience on Sundays than just their one area.
  • Serve relentlessly and creatively. The whole refolding-the-napkin-when-I-go-to-the-bathroom trick was awesome. ¬†And it only took them 10 seconds. ¬†But it took intentionality. ¬†All of their servers had to keep an eye out for people who stood up to leave their table. ¬†And that’s what it’s going to take to serve people on Sundays, too.
  • Prepared in advance to serve well. Serving with this level of class takes planning. ¬†It doesn’t just happen naturally. ¬†You, as staff and leaders, must plan ahead if you want your teams to serve well. ¬†Brainstorming, dreaming, and mapping out action plans, is key if you want your guests to feel honored.
  • Know that Sundays aren’t the first, or last, impression. Our experience may have technically started when we arrived at the restaurant, but it certainly didn’t start, or end, there. ¬†Taking this into account is important as you’re thinking through the message your church is conveying in your community and online.

Think, “What would this look and feel like for a first-time guest?” ¬†Let that question propel you to creatively brainstorm with your team.

We’ve become raving fans of this restaurant.

Are you creating raving fans of your church?

What are you doing to creatively serve your guests?

 

The “Visitor” Treatment

Ben Reed —  August 22, 2010 — 4 Comments

I read this on a sign at an¬†O’Charley’s restaurant I visited in Nashville:

At our place, everybody’s a regular.

What a powerful statement, especially to me on my first time in the restaurant. ¬†That sign told me that I was being viewed a regular customer, even though it was my first time to ever step foot into the place. ¬†I knew none of the waiters or waitresses. ¬†I didn’t have my “special” seat. ¬†The waiter didn’t know my name or what I “always ordered.” ¬†Yet from the moment I stepped foot into the restaurant, I felt valued.

And the service I received backed that up.

I felt like an honored guest. ¬†My waiter went out of his way to make sure I was served well. ¬†He was skilled at his job, and was great at making our table feel served and appreciated. ¬†I really did feel like I was a regular there. ¬†The service was beyond my expectations…especially because there were 40 people in our group. ¬†My tea was always full. ¬†He made sure I was satisfied with each course of food. ¬†He made sure my son was happy. ¬†And he never seemed frustrated that my son was roaming throughout our section (for the record, he doesn’t normally do that, but he was in a foul mood because he was sick, so we let him roam a bit).

Yeah, our service was top notch.

This principle holds true in churches as well.

The way you treat visitors at your church says much about what you, as a church, value.  If you treat them as honored guests, you are saying:

1. We love you, even though we don’t know your story.

2. God loves you, and He does know your story.

3. We love others because God loves us…not because a person is an “insider.”

4. It’s ok to “come as you are.” ¬†Questions, mess, and all.

5. God’s big enough to handle your junk.

Can it be said of a typical Sunday morning at your local church, “At our place, everybody’s a regular.“?

When was the last time you thought, “What impact will this have on first time guests?” as you were planning a Sunday morning environment?

Have you ever tried putting yourself in the shoes of a first-timer, trying to see and experience what they do, from the parking lot to the worship service and the children’s environments?