Putting Processes to Work for Your Guest Services Team

Here’s the bottom line principle when it comes to designing processes for guest services:

An organization needs to think like a customer (or in this case, a Guest)

Put yourselves in the shoes of the typical guest coming to your campus this weekend. Walk through (literally) every touchpoint and interaction that your guest might conceivably encounter. Develop a process or system that will anticipate their need and meet it before it becomes apparent to the guest.

Need help working it out? Try this six-step continuous improvement cycle from Xerox:

  • Identify and select the problem to be worked on
  • Analyze the problem
  • Generate potential solutions
  • Select and plan the best solution
  • Implement the solution
  • Evaluate the solution

Once you have identified a solution and find that it works, continue to use it, evaluating it periodically as needed, replacing it completely when it no longer works.

Here’s a real world situation as an example:

I serve as a Guest Services Team Coordinator for Elevation Church’s Uptown campus in Charlotte, NC. We meet in McGlohan Theater in Spirit Square (the former First Baptist Charlotte campus, turned into an entertainment venue in the 1970’s when the church relocated).

Problem: Almost everyone attending the Uptown Campus drives from somewhere else in Charlotte – which means lots of cars.

Analysis: The theatre only has about 40 parking spaces associated with it. Wanting to reserve those for VIPs (first time guests) and families with small children, we had to locate other parking.

Potential Solutions: Everybody for themselves (no way!); utilize street parking (not enough, and used by businesses or not available many Sundays); negotiate favorable rates with surface parking lots (not so favorable rates, it turns out); negotiate the use of a parking deck 1 1/2 blocks away (good rate, but a little far)

Select the Best Solution: Utilize the parking deck because it puts the majority of cars in one place, allowing maximum efficiency of guest services teams; helps with security; gives a sense of “place” to everyone coming Uptown

Implement the Solution: Determine the traffic patterns of cars coming Uptown and design appropriate signs and locations to maximize impact; develop a checklist of the different types of signs and their locations; negotiate with parking company to insure staff is on site or nearby in case of mechanical problems; promote the “how” of the parking deck through website videos, print materials, and live announcements as needed; plan for inclement weather; coordinate Parking Team, VIP Team, and Greeters to insure smooth transition from parking deck to theater

Evaluate the Solution: Every week the parking team notes hits and misses, and adjusts the process to eliminate them

That’s how we do it at Uptown!

Now, take the principle and apply it in your context.

Efficient processes can transform your Guest Services Team

My favorite post from August, 2012

Parking is More Than Just Cars

Yesterday’s post introduced the concept of parking teams and how important they are to welcoming guests, members and attenders to your campus. Today I want to expand the parking concept beyond just cars.

I lead the Guest Services (Parking) Teams at Elevation Church’s Uptown location. As the “first face” of Elevation, my crew and I get weekly opportunities to practice guest services and make a lasting first impression. We don’t just park cars; we also:

  • Sanitize all touch points and spray air freshener in the elevator cabs and stairwells of the parking deck we use
  • Pick up trash along the route from the parking deck to the theater
  • Put up 22 parking signs (3 different types) in a 2 block area around the theater
  • Pull the parking ticket from the dispenser and personally hand it to guests entering the deck and welcome them to Elevation
  • When possible, push the call button so the elevator is waiting for guests to take them from the parking deck levels to the ground floor
  • Hold the door for guests entering and leaving the parking garage elevator lobby
  • Validate parking for all Elevation guests
  • Provide VIP (our first time guests) and family parking right next to the theater
  • Know what’s going on Uptown so we can help any and everyone who has a question (sporting events, concerts, special activities, etc.)
  • Provide umbrellas to guests when it’s raining for the walk from the parking deck to the theater
  • Give a verbal greeting to everyone coming and going – in at least three different locations
  • Be alert to any special needs and radio them ahead to the VIP tent
  • As guests are leaving, we take the validated ticket from them and feed it into the dispenser, giving them a verbal blessing as they head out of the garage

And that’s just the parking team!

Elevation’s audacious Guest Services Team also has Greeters, a First Impressions Team, VIP Tent, and Connections Tent (but that’s another part of the journey).

All this BEFORE a guest has stepped into the theater for worship.

Your church is different from my campus – you probably don’t have a parking garage. But you do have parking lots – and that is an excellent opportunity for you to make a powerful first impression.

Take the principleParking is your first opportunity to make an impact on your guests – and apply it to the context of your place. What will you do this week to implement/change/improve your parking team?

Do not underestimate the power and influence of the first impression your parking lot makes!

The First Face of Your Church…

…should be in the parking lot.

Guests and members coming to your church should see an energetic, welcoming, smiling group of people helping you pull into the parking lot and getting safely to the buildings. I admit my bias: I serve as the Parking Team Coordinator for Elevation Church’s Uptown Campus, so I’m all over this thing called parking.

You should be too, because it’s often the “first impression” your guests receive of your church.

At Elevation Church, our worship experiences begin in the parking lot. You may have thought that church parking lots, and the teams that staff them weekly, were just about cars, orange vests, and two-way radios. We see it differently: we’re the first face of Elevation, and we are connectors to the current of the power of God.

The parking teams at Elevation have a vision that is the same as the church’s: So that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ. We fulfill that vision by welcoming everyone to our six campuses, giving them the first of several audacious welcomes for the day. We remove every barrier possible so that they can be a part of a powerful worship experience. As a Parking Team Coordinator at one campus, and after surveying our other campus team leaders, here’s why we think parking is a very important part of what happens at Elevation Church. From the first few sections of our parking manual:

Purpose: The Parking Team exists so that people far from God will be filled with life in Christ.

Goal: We will “WOW” every guest by exceeding their expectations.

Strategy: Create and ensure a quick, easy, and stress-free parking experience.

Our priority is to help traffic enter and exit smoothly but more importantly to honor people and get them excited about Elevation.

Our basic parking guidelines are very simple:

  • Make eye contact
  • Smile
  • Wave
  • Go the extra mile to make someone else smile

So are our suggestions for moving traffic:

  • When you move, they move.
  • Keep the main line of entrance traffic flowing the majority of the time.
  • Quickly help those that are stopping to ask questions and get them moving again.
  • Be aware of pedestrian traffic and be considerate of those going the wrong way.
  • Stay visible.
  • Wear your vest and make motions with the entire arm instead of just the forearm

The parking teams may have a single vision, and simple guidelines, but we express them differently at each campus. Even though we are one church in six locations and there are a lot of similarities, there are a lot of differences in the parking lots. For example, consider the locations:

  • Providence and Northwestern – high schools, with limited entrances and exits and multiple lots
  • University City – a YMCA with limited designated parking
  • Matthews – retail shopping center with shared designated parking areas
  • Blakeney – mixed development with five means of egress in multiple lots
  • Uptown – parking garage with two entrances

Our locations alone make a big difference in how we serve as a parking team. Here are some interesting parking factors anyone with a parking team might consider:

  1. Our parking teams have more fun than you can pay for!
  2. We understand the power of a great first impression.
  3. We understand the letdown of a poor first impression.
  4. Safety is at the top of our list; juggling lines of moving cars and walking people is always a balancing act.
  5. Multiple parking lots with many entrances and exits (Blakeney, Matthews, University City, Rock Hill and Providence Campuses) are great-until you try to staff all them at once.
  6. Traffic cones are a wonderful invention (see #5).
  7. People sometimes pay more attention to a traffic cone than a person in a vest directing traffic flow.
  8. Parking teams have to know everything about the church in order to answer guest’s questions.
  9. Sharing parking spaces with retail stores (Blakeney, Matthews Campuses) is a science – and an art.
  10. Checklists help parking teams do it right, every time.
  11. Grace helps the parking team deal with situation when #10 doesn’t work.
  12. Safety orange is everybody’s favorite color!
  13. With large multiple lots, two-way radios help direct traffic flow efficiently
  14. Parking garages (Uptown Campus) are a whole different world, especially when they also serve two very large nightclubs.
  15. When in parking areas with major attractions nearby, the parking team will be asked directions, times, etc. A little knowledge and a great smile make a great first impression even when someone isn’t coming to Elevation.

All Parking Teams do is help guests find spaces to park their cars, right? At Elevation, there’s so much more to being a part of the parking team.

We serve everyone with audacious, radical hospitality – “just” by parking cars!