Q&A: How Does Your Guest Services Team Handle the Rain?
What sort of “rainy day plan” do you implement when the weather isn’t cooperating?
[from the 2023 blog survey]
There’s nothing like a good downpour to sour the mood of your guest services team and your guests. Loading the car, getting to the church, and walking to the building means that you’re going to sit through the service with a damp behind. And if you’re an outside volunteer on the parking team, outer entry team, set-up or tear-down teams, or first-time guest tent team, well…it has the making to be a miserable morning.
So how can we set up our team to offset the rain? Here are a few tried-and-true methods we’ve used:
1. Create a plan and set expectations.
No matter what your weather event – rain, snow, extreme heat, hurricane – you need a plan for each. What stations get shifted inside? Which teams take on a new role? Where are the tools needed to combat the weather?
More than that, you need to communicate the plan to your volunteers. They should know that a rainy day isn’t a “get out of serving free” card. It’s actually a time to step up and serve in a different way.
[related post: Planning for Worst-Case Weather Scenarios]
2. Get geared up.
Don’t wait until there’s rain in the forecast to run down to Walgreens and buy a bunch of pocket-sized umbrellas. You should have a “weather kit” that gets pulled out depending on the situation. For a rainy day, our kit includes umbrellas, umbrella stands, wet umbrella bags, and an occasional rain slicker for our Parking Team vols.
[related post: Danny Recommends: Rain Gear]
3. Go the second mile.
Don’t miss the opportunity to truly care for and connect with your guests. A rainy day is a great time to mobilize a team to escort people from their car to the building with umbrellas. If you have a covered drop off area, put some extra volunteers and signage out that directs people to that opportunity. If you have older congregants or folks who have trouble walking long distances in good weather, consider taking their keys when they pull into the covered drop off and parking their car for them.
4. Set up a rotation.
While the goal is not necessarily comfort for our volunteers, we know that if a volunteer is uncomfortable, a guest might be too. I’m a firm believer that you should have your First-Time Guest tent out whenever possible (even if it’s raining), but that doesn’t mean that all of the activity of the FTG tent needs to take place outside. Set up a secondary station inside, and rotate your volunteers so they can encounter the guest outside, walk with them inside, and get to know them there.
[related post: Let’s Talk About the Weather]
5. Lead by example.
If you’re going to expect volunteers to stand out in the rain (see point #1 above), then you should be willing to do it too. I recognize that those who lead the Guest Services Team can’t – and maybe shouldn’t – put themselves in a particular position. Doing so means that you’re tied to one spot and can’t give overall leadership or respond to timely needs. Having said that, you generate a lot of goodwill with your team when they know you’re not asking them to do something you won’t do.
For example: just a few weeks ago we had an absolute monsoon during the first Sunday of a brand-new campus. A couple of our steering team members (what we call our executive team) were there that day, and asked me what they could do to help. Long story short, they ended up standing in the pouring rain at a parking lot entrance, waving and directing traffic. It was a kind gesture that they didn’t have to do, but their “whatever it takes” attitude was noticed by many of us that day – staff and volunteers included.
How do you prepare for a rainy day? Comment below.
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