Welcome to the training for greeting team members who staff the Welcome Table at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. My name is Chance Hunter, Director of Welcome Ministries, and I’ll be your guide in this presentation.
In this training, we’ll talk about supplies, setup, and take down, and then talk about the Welcome Table from the visitor’s perspective---what a visitor needs from the Welcome Table.
So let’s jump right in and talk about supplies, setup, and takedown.
While there is no single right way for the welcome table to be set up, ther e are some guidelines that should be followed. Only Welcome Ministries materials and the Order of Service should be on the welcoem table. And we’ll give you a representative list of those materials here in a moment. No flyers for special events or other non-welcome programming should be at the welcome table. There are dozens of programs and groups at UUCA, and the Welcome Table would quickly become cluttered and unusable for welcoming visitors if it became “information central” for flyers for every program and activity. If you find non-Welcome Ministries materials at the welcome table, they can be moved to the Information Kiosk in the north hallway, next to the RE storage closet. Because many people will take the first Order of Service they see, large print Orders of Service should be kept behind regular print Orders of Service, so that they’re not the first pile to go. We don’t want persons with vision impairments to go without an Order o fService they can use becaue people who didn’t need them took them wihtout thinking. You should also set out nametag stickers with a marker, and visitor cards on clipboards, each with its own pen.
The Welcome Table contains two cabinets, one in front and one in back.
The front cabinet contains several styles of “reserved seating” signs.
The back cabinet contains five clear plastic bins. One of the two top bins contains pens, markers, nametag stickers, and visitor cards. The other of the top two bins contains the hearing assistance devices and batteries. The bottom three bins contains brochures published by the Unitarian Universalist Association, which we use to stock the brochure racks on the Welcome Table and on the Information Kiosk.
Here’s the list of what goes on the welcome table. The large “Welcome” sign and the list of accessibility features sign. That month’s newsletters. That week’s Cliffhanger. The Finding Your Place brochure, which lists all non-class adult programming. The Adult RE brochure, when it is available. Two brochure racks for brochures with basic info about Unitarian Universalism. Nametag stickers and visitor cards, and the Order of Service.
Notice how the welcome table is laid out in this photo. Signs are brochures are along the back of the table toward the left, with the newsletter and Finding Your Place brochure on the front left. Two clipboards with visitor cards are in front, spaced out so that two people could fill them out simultaneously. The Order of Service is on the far right. If large print Orders of Service were in this photo, they would be on the back right corner, behind the regular print Order of Service you see here.
After the final worship service on any Sunday, there are several things to put away. Pens and nametags left out will disappear during the week. Please put up all nametag stickers. Each program area at UUCA has its own budget for supplies, so we want to make sure that our pens and nametags are there every Sunday for Welcome Ministries use. Persons wanting nametags or pens for non-Welcome Ministries programs will need to procure their own supplies. You can also leave out one clip board with visitor cards, along with one pen. Throw away any trash. The custodian (formerly known as the sexton) will collect Orders of Service for recycling.
That’s the basics of what greeters do at the Welcome Table. Here’s a look at the Welcome Table from a visitor’s perspective.
There are six things visitors might do at the Welcome Table. They enjoy being greeted there by Welcome Table staff. They fill out a visitor card and a nametag. They learn about our Question & Answer session for newcomers and about Coffee Hour. They pick up brochures. And they ask questions. Let’s talk about each of them.
Greeting visitors at the welcome table.
Keep in mind that first-time visitors will feel at least a little self-conscious and will be unsure of what to do and where to go. They Welcome Table is a place where we can ease their anxieties and point them in the right direction. When you greet someone who is at the welcome table, or near it, you send the message that they’re at the right place, at the right time, and doing the right thing. It sets them up for a positive worship experience and makes them feel their presence has been acknowledged. If someone is at, or near, the Welcome Table and isn’t warmly greeted, their anxieties will multiply, and they will have good reason to assume that they made a mistake by coming over to the Welcome Table and may feel like they’ve broken a rule. That’s why it’s important there is always a greeter at the Welcome Table. To make them feel at home as soon as possible, try to greet people when they’re still six feet away from the Welcome Table. If you don’t greet them when they’re six feet away, they’ll wonder if they’ve maybe done something wrong, or else why wouldn’t the friendly-looking greeter be acknowledging them? This can be tough to do when there are already newcomers at the welcome table, but it can almost always be done when there is no one in front of the table.
Members and friends should never stop to chat in front of the Welcome Table. If some non-visitors have camped out in front of the Welcome Table, firmly but politely interrupt their conversation and ask them to move. There are many other, better places where they can have a conversation.
Why visitor cards matter. Studies done by sociologists of religion, church growth experts, and other researchers, for decades, have shown that first time visitors who are contacted within a day of their first visit are far, far more likely to to return for a second and then a third visit. And obviously, if we don’t get a visitor card from them, we can’t do that important follow up. From our own studies, we’ve learned that one if about every five or six visitors who fills out a visitor card joins UUCA. That means if you sign up five or six first-time visitors, odds are one of them will be joining UUCA soon. It doesn’t get any more concrete that that. It’s safe to assume that first time visitors want to find out more about UUCA. After all, if they didn’t want to find out more, and experience UUCA for themselves, why would they have come? It’s a rare visitor who comes to any congregation for the first time not wanting to know more about it. Put differently, visitors are curious. Approach their curiosity with your own spirit of curiosity.
Here’s what we do with visitor cards: On Monday, I enter them into the database and send them an email thanking them for coming, inviting them to reply back with questions, and at the end I include several inks to more information, including a web version of the “Finding Your Place” brochure, 100 questions non-members ask about Uuism, and information on how to become a member. There’s also a link to a quick first-time visitor survey where they can give us feedback about their experience. In addition to the day-after email, for a few months after their first visit, I also send them a periodic email to let them know about upcoming Exploring UUCA classes, also known as the new member class. Registration for that class usually spikes the day or two after I send those emails. And because they’re entered into the database, we can use all that information to do analysis and help us do strategic planning.
Because getting that fill-out visitor card is so important, it’s key to ask them to fill it out in a way that’s likely to work. Here are two ineffective ways to ask them to fill it out. The first ineffective way is this: You don’t want to fill this out, do you? This way of asking implies that filling out the visitor card is unimportant and a bother. And no one wants to do something that’s unimportant and a bother. The second ineffective way to ask is this: Would you like to fill out a visitor card? While this may seem innocuous, it actually puts the visitor in the position of having to answer dishonestly. Why? Think about it this way. Of all the people you know---friends, family, co-workers—how many do you know that look forward to and enjoy filling out forms? Probably none. But that’s what you’re asking them when you ask, “Would you like to fill out a visitor card?” You’re asking them if they enjoy filling out forms. And the only honest answer to that question is “No,” which leads to a visitor card that doesn’t get filled out. And like the first way of asking, this way also implies that filling out a visitor card in unimportant. And as we’ve seen, visitor cards are very important. Remember, for every five or six visitors who don’t fill out a card, we’ve lost a potential new member. Also keep in mind that visitors will only give us the information they’re comfortable giving us. If they won’t want us to email them, for example, they won’t write in their email address on the form. We’re happy to take whatever information they’re comfortable giving us, and we trust that as they get to know UUCA better, they’ll be more comfortable giving us more information.
Here are two more effective ways you can ask them to fill out a visitor card: Could you fill out a visitor card? Or, Would you fill out a visitor card? Or some variation, like, Could you fill this out for us? Or, Would you fill this out for me? You can even throw in a “please” to be extra polite. These ways are more effective because they direct questions that ask the visitor to complete a concrete action in a positive way.
Now let’s talk about nametags.
Nametags are stored in one of the top two clear plastic bins in the back of the Welcome Table. Sharpies or other markers work best, but a pen will do fine in a crunch. It’s okay if they want to practice what I like to call “creative anonymity” at first and go without a nametag. If they’re hesitant because they’re concerned a handwritten nametag will mark them as a visitor, it’s worth mentioning that members and friends also make nametags when they’ve forgotten or lost their official nametags, so wearing a nametag doesn’t necessarily mark someone as a visitor. To keep the Welcome Table neat and clean, be sure to throw away nametag trash as it’s generated. There should be a small trash can behind the Welcome Table.
The Introducing UUCA Question & Answer session, and Coffee Hour.
While they’re filling out their visitor card or nametag, it’s worth mentioning to visitors that we have a Coffee Hour following worship---you’ll need to point them toward to Social Hall---and that we have an “Introducing UUCA” question and answer session after the first service each Sunday. They’ll also hear about these during worship, but repetition is good. It’s also worth mentioning the Bookstore and Art Gallery, especially if they’ve arrived several minutes early for worship.
Between the Welcome Table and the Information Kiosk, there’s a lot of information for a newcomer to sort through. After they fill out a visitor card, it would be helpful to hand them two pieces of literature in particular: The Finding Your Place brochure and the monthly newsletter. The Finding Your Place brochure provides a bird’s eye overview of our non-class adult programming, and the newsletter supplies more specific information, as well as information about current classes, which isn’t included in the Finding Your Place brochure. After they’ve filled out a visitor card and nametag is a good time to hand them these brochures.
Questions visitors ask.
You might be surprised at what visitors already know about us. These days, most newcomers visitor our website before visiting, even if they’re invited by family or friends. Depending on how deeply they looked into the website, they might already know about our Purposes & Principles, our worship schedule, our religious education program, and more. They might have specific questions, but very few will show up a blank slate. You can check out the Newcomers section of uuca.org to get an idea of what information is made available to them.
So what questions should you expect to get? The most commonly asked question, easily enough, is “Where’s the restroom?” The second most commonly asked question is “Where do I go” (meaning, “where do I go for worship?”) especially from those who arrive early, before a line has formed going into the sanctuary, or from those who arrive late, after the doors have been shut and the line has dissipated.
Many greeters who don’t have children enrolled in RE are anxious about getting questions about RE. Here’s what you need to know: We hope that parents with RE-age children will sign visitor cards, and there is a separate sign up for children at the RE counter. There are RE Greeters every Sunday by the RE information counter under the stained glass window in the Front Lobby. You can kindly direct newcomers with RE questions to one of the RE Greeters. Saying “Just go over there” or only pointing are unacceptable ways to direct someone to the RE Greeters. If two people are working the Welcome Table, walking them over to the RE Greeters would be especially helpful. Infants and toddlers are encouraged to go to either the nursery or the Quiet Room, or first one and then the other, depending on what works best for them and their parents. On RE Sunday, which is most Sundays, children and teens start worship with their parentsand leave during the hymn after the chalice lighting. Parents are welcome to walk their children to their RE classes, and even to stay with them during the RE class. When there is intergenerational worship, and no RE classes, children and teens stay in worship for the entire service. These Sundays are usually holidays like Christmas and Easter. You’ll know it’s an intergenerational worship day because the children’s nametag kiosk (during the school year) will not be out, and there will be a table set up with crayons and coloring books in the front lobby.
You’re not expected to know the answers to all questions a visitor might ask. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer. You don’t have to be an expert. The important thing is to try and point them in the right direction. A good place to find answers is in the literature on the Welcome Table, especially the newsletter, Finding Your Place brochure, and the Cliffhanger. Another good tactic is to ask the staff person who works with the program you have a question about or another leader who works with that program. However, Sunday mornings are not the best time to ask detailed questions of persons who are leading worship that day, whether it’s the ministers, lay minisetrs, or other worship leaders. Let’s help them keep their focus on leading worship and ask for help from other leaders. A full listing of room assignments and times is available on the calendar bulletin board in the front lobby. A slightly abbreviated version in included on the back of the Cliffhanger. And of course our Introducing UUCA question and answer sessions are a great place for newcomers to bring questions and find answers.
That brings us to the end of our training. I hope you learned some new things about staffing the Welcome Table, and I’m sure you appreciate the vital importance of this role to our congregation and its mission to be a warm and welcoming community where all are valued. If you have further questions, you can contact either me, your team leader, or Herschel Beazley, our Greeter Coordinator. Thank you for taking this training, and happy greeting!
Welcome Table Training
<ul><li>Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta </li></ul>Welcome Table Training
Welcome Table Training <ul><li>Supplies, setup and takedown </li></ul><ul><li>From a visitor’s perspective </li></ul>
Welcome Table Setup <ul><li>Only Welcome Ministries materials and the Order of Service </li></ul><ul><li>Non-Welcome Ministries flyers can be moved to Information Kiosk </li></ul><ul><li>Large print Orders of Service go behind regular print Orders of Service </li></ul><ul><li>Nametags and sharpies </li></ul><ul><li>Visitor cards and pens </li></ul>
Inside Front Cabinet of Welcome Table <ul><li>“ Reserved Seating” signs </li></ul>
Inside Back Cabinet of Welcome Table <ul><li>Pens, markers, nametags, visitor cards </li></ul><ul><li>Hearing assistance devices and batteries </li></ul><ul><li>Brochures published by the UUA </li></ul>
What’s On the Welcome Table <ul><li>‘ Welcome’ sign and accessibility sign </li></ul><ul><li>Newsletter </li></ul><ul><li>Cliffhanger </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Finding Your Place’ brochure </li></ul><ul><li>Adult RE brochure </li></ul><ul><li>2 brochure racks with basic UU info </li></ul><ul><li>Nametags and visitor cards </li></ul><ul><li>Order of Service </li></ul>
What Visitors Do at the Welcome Table <ul><li>Greeted by Welcome Table staff </li></ul><ul><li>Fill out a visitor card </li></ul><ul><li>Fill out a nametag </li></ul><ul><li>Learn about the Q&A and Coffee Hour </li></ul><ul><li>Pick up brochures </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions </li></ul>
When Do I Greet People? <ul><li>Visitors are often unsure of where to go and what to do </li></ul><ul><li>Your greeting affirms they are the right place, doing the right thing by walking over the Greeting Table </li></ul><ul><li>Greet them before they get to the Greeting Table </li></ul><ul><li>About six feet away is a good distance </li></ul>
Chatting at the Welcome Table <ul><li>Ask members and friends to move </li></ul>
Why Visitor Cards Matters <ul><li>Newcomers far more likely to come back if contacted within a day after first visit </li></ul><ul><li>No visitor card, no follow up </li></ul><ul><li>One out of five or six registered visitors joins UUCA </li></ul><ul><li>If they weren’t already interested in getting more information, why would they have come in the first place? </li></ul>
What We Do With Visitor Cards <ul><li>Monday email from Director of Welcome Ministries </li></ul><ul><li>Recent visitors emailed about upcoming Exploring UUCA classes </li></ul><ul><li>Aids strategic planning </li></ul>
Ineffective Ways to Ask Someone to Fill Out a Visitor Card <ul><li>“ You don’t want to fill this out, do you?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Would you like to fill out a visitor card?” </li></ul><ul><li>Every five or six visitors who don’t fill out a visitor card amounts to a lost new member </li></ul><ul><li>They will give us the information they feel comfortable with </li></ul>
Effective Ways to Ask Someone to Fill Out a Visitor Card <ul><li>“ Could you fill out a visitor card?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Would you fill out a visitor card?” </li></ul><ul><li>Concrete, direct, and positive </li></ul>
Nametags <ul><li>Nametags stored in bin in back cabinet of Welcome Table </li></ul><ul><li>Sharpies work best </li></ul><ul><li>“ Creative anonymity” is okay </li></ul><ul><li>Good to know: Members and Friends also fill out nametags </li></ul><ul><li>Throw trash away as it’s generated </li></ul>
Two Good Ways to Connect <ul><li>Good to mention while they’re filling out a visitor card </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our weekly Q&A session: “Introducing UUCA” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coffee Hour </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Also: Bookstore and Art Gallery </li></ul>
Information They Need <ul><li>A lot of brochures at Welcome Table for a newcomers to navigate </li></ul><ul><li>If you hand them only two brochures: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Finding Your Place” brochure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monthly Newsletter </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Good follow up after they’ve filled out a visitor card </li></ul>
What Do Visitors Already Know? <ul><li>Most newcomers check out our website first </li></ul><ul><li>Check out the “Newcomers” section of uuca.org to see what they see </li></ul>
Two Most Common Questions <ul><li>“ Where’s the restroom?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Where do I go?” </li></ul>
What You Need to Know about RE <ul><li>Parents can sign visitor card, separate RE signup for children </li></ul><ul><li>RE Greeters every Sunday by the RE counter </li></ul><ul><li>Infants and toddlers encouraged to go to nursery or Quiet Room </li></ul><ul><li>Children and teens start worship with their parents </li></ul><ul><li>Parents are welcome to go to RE </li></ul><ul><li>Children and teens stay in worship for inter-generational worship (usually holidays) </li></ul>
When You Don’t Know the Answer <ul><li>Being an expert is not required </li></ul><ul><li>Point them in the right direction </li></ul><ul><li>Places to find answers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brochures on Welcome Table </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff and other program leaders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schedule listed on calendar bulletin board </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Introducing UUCA” Q&A session </li></ul></ul>