The first experience any prospective member has at your club can make or break whether a person chooses to join. While most clubs are aware of some of the barriers that limit participation in sport such as facility access, cost, lack of transport etc. many may not be aware of the less tangible factors.
Read on for some suggestions on how to make every new member feel welcome from day one. You will get tips on what to do before the first visit, what to do during the first visit and what to do after the first visit.
At the end I provide a handy free checklist that you can download and use to ensure your new member welcome process leads to engaged, happy and included members.
Feeling “out of place” or “unwelcome” is certainly going to impact whether someone chooses to join or stay involved with your club. It must be said though, that for the most part it is not the intentions of a club to make new and prospective members may feel this way.
You should keep in mind that when any prospective member visits your club for the first time they are deciding if your club is the right place for them. Therefore, what clubs do at the first point of contact is very important. In fact what you do before and after first contact is really important as well.
By being prepared and taking some specific actions you can ensure a successful transition for your new members.
Before we get into the tips I think it’s important to understand some of the benefits to both the club and new members. There are of course many benefits but here are three major benefits for you to consider;
1. Increase your membership.
This is probably a no brainer but needs to be highlighted. By creating a welcoming environment from the get go means you are more likely to sign (and keep) new members.
2. Increase your volunteer base.
As I’m sure you are aware every new member has a support team - whether that’s parents, siblings, spouse, friends or colleagues. These are all people that you can now bring into your sphere of influence and welcome into the club too.
3. Access to new skills, knowledge and experiences.
With new people from diverse backgrounds comes new and different perspectives. New members may bring new skills that can be put to good use on committees or on games day. New members also bring different experiences that will make your club culture and community richer and more vibrant.
So, what can you do?
Use the following eight tips to to ensure the first contact for new members leads to positive and long term involvement in your club.
What should you do before the first visit?
Tip 1: Have a process.
Make sure your club has a process or policy in place that describes how new members should be welcomed. Plus make sure that everyone is aware of what to do.
Tip 2: Give and get information.
Send information about the club to prospective members and find out about their individual needs, expectations and goals before they visit the club for the first time. This could be with a simple email, a survey or even just a quick phone call.
Tip 3: Get everyone on board.
Make sure everyone at the club is willing and open to welcoming all new members who may turn up. Importantly, make sure they know what their role in the process is. Having an “open door policy” that everyone supports will lead to success.
What should you do during the first visit?
Tip 4: Show them around.
Take the new member on a tour of the club facilities and introduce them to important people such as the coach and committee members. This will go a long way to making new members feel comfortable.
Tip 5: Get them involved.
Get a new member involved in an activity as quickly as possible. This will assist the transition and help break the ice. Plus it shows the new member what your club is all about.
Tip 6: Offer them choice.
Ensuring individual choice is important when making someone feel at home. You will need to be flexible and consider things that may be different to what you always do. Not sure what choices to offer? Just ask your prospective and new members! Giving a new member the choice of how they wish to participate is empowering.
What should you do after the first visit?
Tip 7: Follow up.
Ask the new member how their first visit went and find out if they need any additional help to settle in. This shows that you care and also increases the likelihood of retaining the member year to year or season to season.
Tip 8: Reassess individual needs.
Find out if the new member’s needs and expectations were met and work positively to address any reasonable requirements they may have. You don’t have to get it right the first time but a willingness to support and improve the member experience will go a long way to making the member feel welcome and valued.
If you implement these simple tips into your club you will be well on your way to making sure your club is the place to be. You want all new and prospective members to feel welcome and that your club is the place for them. Here's what you need to do now:
- Download the Welcoming New Members Checklist below
- Put a member welcome process in place in your club
- Share your experiences in the ISD Community Group! How does your club welcome new members? What other benefits come from ensuring new members feel welcome?
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