We recently took a much-needed vacation – a family road trip to Colorado. On the way back we stopped at a truck stop/fast food restaurant outside of Lubbock, TX to gas up and eat. When we walked in we were given the standard greeting. But after that, they totally exceeded our expectations.

The restaurant employees were not just friendly… they were truly welcoming. They engaged us in conversation while making our order. And they greeted the other customers in the same manner, especially their regulars, who they greeted by name. They asked questions about their jobs and family. It was obvious that they genuinely cared about their customers. And they seemed to be truly having fun.

And then when we picked up some snacks for the road in the gas station part, the employees were just as welcoming. One of the employees who was stocking the shelves engaged me in conversation warmly and enthusiastically, while not going over the top. What’s more, both the store and the bathrooms were very clean and orderly.

It’s just a truck stop

As I left, I thanked a few of the employees for making our trip very pleasant. They didn’t have to. They choseto do so. After all, it’s just a truck stop. Most of their customers will only be there for a few minutes. They will get gas, a quick meal and snacks, and then leave, probably to never be seen again. I could have easily been treated as simply another consumer in their place of employment. There probably wasn’t much of a short-term payoff for their effort.

That little something extra

What made this truck stop different? It was “that little something extra.” Extra attention to detail, extra focus the customers… extra everything. Most of these things didn’t have an actual dollar value attached to them. But in the big scheme of things, because of my positive experience I’m going to tell people passing through that way to stop in.

This is the direct result of great leadership. Great leaders create a positive culture for the entire organization, or at least for their department within the organization. They hire great people, develop great teams and build a winning environment.

What if we adopted this same mindset in our churches? What if we trained our teams (by example and in more formal ways) to go the extra mile, to give that little something extra? What if we truly exceeded the expectations of the people that check out our churches?  What if we treated new people like guests instead of just visitors? This is not just semantics… it’s a mindset.

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This can include things such as having

  • Your best people in the parking lot and at the front door
  • Extra greeters roaming throughout the building
  • Family greeters in the kids area (or people to specifically escort families with small children to the Kids Church areas)
  • Great tasting coffee and creamer
  • Staff/volunteers whose responsibility it is to check/clean the bathrooms and coffee area every 20 – 30 minutes
  • Having breath mints and deodorant available in the restrooms
  • Encouraging the entire congregation to reach out to guests – even invite them to lunch
  • Having a team dedicated to connecting with guests/newer members after the service

How to get your team to give extra

We need to train our volunteers to bring “that little something extra” mindset to their areas. We do this both by teaching and modeling. We can create a positive, winning environment in whatever area we find ourselves. Just like a negative attitude, a positive attitude can be contagious. But if you’re in an already negative environment, this will probably take some time.

We leaders can create the environment we want to see. I like what Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life Church says, “Empower your people by giving them the what, explaining the why and letting them figure out the how.” Our volunteers need to understand the big picture – what it is we’re trying to accomplish – and our core values – why we want to accomplish this. We can then empower them to engage people and represent our “brand.” If needed, we can tweak the way they do it by offering feedback and coaching. The end result is that they are then able to bring other volunteers through the same process.

So what does your “little something extra” look like? Let me rephrase the question… what could it look like? Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comment below.