How to be Visitor-Friendly
Showing the Heart of Christ
1. Teach staff the importance of being friendly.
Many people need to be trained on why this is important. The importance to visitors of a smile, eye contact and a warm greeting is often overlooked. Discuss with your staff both the “why” and the “how” of being friendly.
2. The principal greets students and parents in the morning.
Role modeling for staff begins with the most visible leader. A climate of friendliness grows when followers see the leader demonstrating the behavior.
3. Staff greet families.
As students arrive, teachers need to be accessible for greeting families. If teachers are absorbed in the details of the day, little greeting can occur. Train students to follow a routine of “board work” so the teacher has a few minutes to greet families and become aware of opportunities for ministry.
4. Review the message your signage gives visitors.
Strive to make it open and friendly instead of threatening or challenging. We often have good-intentioned signage that is practical but not friendly. Many adults start with a negative view of school that is only reinforced by our wording. Decide what message you hope to convey and evaluate whether or not it is successful.
5. Have brightly colored hallways with either Christian murals or student work visible.
Your first impression matters. Can visitors see your Christian message or is it hidden away? Do your hallways let them know joy is found here or do they convey another message?
6. Leave the closest parking accessible to families with small children.
Remind staff and regular volunteers that walking is healthy and encourage them to park a little further away, thereby benefiting those with the least knowledge of your faith family. Once again, train your staff and member parents as to the why and how of helping visitors with young children. Close, accessible parking is appreciated when bringing in students, diaper bags and younger siblings.
7. Have colorful brochures available for those seeking information.
The print message you send is a reminder of what they experienced. A Christian message that speaks of quality education is best enhanced by a quality Christian brochure.
8. Plan and utilize a coordinated follow-up contact for visitors.
Place a responsible person in charge of visitor follow-up. Have them follow a written plan that includes both the type of follow-up (letter, call, visit) and the intended purpose of the follow-up. Some schools are designating this to an Admissions Officer or Registrar who works with the principal to enhance the enrollment process for new families.
9. Prominently post your mission statement.
If you want people to know what you stand for, in addition to demonstrating it, allow them to see it and determine if it is effectively lived out through their experience. “Accountability” looms large if it is a visible promise.
10. Post pictures of students serving others and the community.
Service is a major part of our Christian life. Help visitors see this by what we place in our hallways. Remind parents we are striving not only for academically trained students, but also for young people who will provide Christian leadership through service to their community. We educate the whole child!
11. Recognize positive features of your school in the hallway.
For example: student behavior, academic achievement, service, church and Sunday School attendance, academic honor roll, athletics, music, and alumni
Lutherans are often humble people. But it is okay to state that we seek excellence and then recognize those whom God has blessed with the ability to achieve that excellence. Nothing tells a visiting parent more about your school then what the past and current students have accomplished there.
12. Post staff pictures and names in a prominent place.
Help new families or visitors identify the most important part of your school, the people God has placed there. Encourage communication with staff and interaction with visitors. Introduce visitors to the teacher who will teach their child even if they are not certain about enrollment.
13. Have a clean building.
Excellence and healthy conditions go hand in hand.
14. Make repairs in a timely manner.
Develop a procedure for eliminating building problems quickly. You can apologize only so often for a building issue that should be addressed. Invite visitors back to see that maintenance and repairs do occur.
15. Encourage students or families to take visitors on tours.
Train them to do this properly. Let your families describe the wonderful things God is doing at your school. You have to say good things, but they don’t. This becomes a wonderful opportunity to mentor your new families with a family that understands and appreciates your mission.
16. Pastor is visible and knows children by name.
Nothing speaks a caring spiritual atmosphere like a pastor who greets and is greeted by children and families as they walk around your school.