This is the fourth in a monthly series of posts called Guest Services Road Trip. Join me in traveling the country (maybe the globe?) from the comforts of our collective iDevices, interviewing leaders who are in the trenches of ministry. Do you have an idea for GSRT destination? Have a leader I need to talk to? Want the inside scoop on churches that seem to be doing this hospitality thing really well? Let’s talk.
Lindsey Naitove is the Guest Services Director at City Church Tallahassee in Tallahassee, Florida. City Church is led by Dean Inserra, and is known as a church “for the gospel and for the city of Tallahassee.” They host two services at one location, and have an approximate weekly attendance of 1,500 people.
Lindsey has been a part of City Church for ten years but has been on staff for the last year and a half. As Guest Services Director, she leads the Hospitality Team in their effort to meet people right where they are with the love of God. Connect with Lindsey via email.
What are the top three books you’ve read on the topic of guest services and/or volunteerism?
First Impressions (Waltz), Be Our Guest (Kinni), Culture of Yes: Practices and Principles of Great Hospitality (Solomon) [Danny here: Culture of Yes has been re-formatted and re-released as The Heart of Hospitality.]
What does your training process look like for your Hospitality Team volunteers (initially and/or ongoing)?
We are just now starting a new process for new volunteers where they receive a one on one training with me before they ever serve. We walk through why we serve and talk about expectations and the different opportunities they have to serve within the team. Part of their initial training also includes shadowing another volunteer in the area that they choose to serve. For everyone else we are starting to do a “refresher” training at the beginning of every semester to reinforce the vision, remind everyone of the expectations of serving on the team, and introduce new team leaders.
How is your Hospitality Team structured?
As Guest Services Director, I oversee the ministry, creates systems and process, and cast vision. We have a Service Director over each one of our services who oversees the logistics for that service and serves as the point person for all of our Team Leaders. Team Leaders oversee a specific area within our Hospitality Team. They lead their teams in morning huddles, encourage and correct their volunteers, and carry out the vision passed down from the Director. Our volunteers are the ones who make everything happen on a Sunday. They park the cars, serve the coffee, seat people, and make sure every person who walks through the door is greeted and welcomed. A lot of our volunteers serve and lead in other ministry areas during the week. Many of them are City Group leaders, serve our students on Wednesdays, or are a part of our Care Team.
Is the Hospitality Team a “silo ministry” at City Church? In other words, do other ministry areas view guest services as an essential part of their mission?
Our ministry is pretty central. While we could work together more, a lot of our teams point people to us on a Sunday morning, and we all work together to push people to our First Look gathering, which is a meet and greet with our Pastor and staff. That is the first goal for all teams.
What is one of your best practices / ministry hacks that you’re especially happy with?
Efficiency is probably one of our biggest strengths since we were portable for the first nine years of our church. People have gotten really good at getting things done quickly and correctly on a Sunday, which I think makes it look like we have our stuff together for our guests.
What is a challenge you’re currently facing on your Hospitality Team?
I think one of our biggest challenges is creating a good and healthy culture and retaining volunteers. There has been so much leadership change within our team that consistency has been lacking. We’ve been working really hard to move people from just showing up on a Sunday to serve (because it’s just what they do), to really understanding the why behind what we do each Sunday. We want that “why” to be the driving force of everything we do.
What has been one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made in leading your team or implementing a guest services culture?
I tried to change too many things at once! When I came in to this role, I had so many ideas and wanted everything to change overnight. I found that I got frustrated because not everyone was on board immediately, and I just had to realize that changing culture takes time.
What is an idea you’d like to experiment with or implement over the next six months?
Because we sometimes have a hard time getting people to actually show up to trainings, I had the idea to start a video training series. We would post them on our group page about once a month, and people can watch them from their phones. Each video will address something different. One may be about serving coffee, and how there’s a difference between just handing someone a cup of coffee and giving service like Chick-fil-A and going above and beyond. Another may address the way you dress on a Sunday and point out how wearing flip flops as you walk down the aisle to do offering may be distracting because all people can hear is the sound of your shoes. The videos would stay posted so people can always refer back to them, but it’s a way for us to think about the smallest things that can be a distraction for someone on a Sunday and address them.
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