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?