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Be a Follow-Up Shark

Have you ever watched Shark Tank? I thought it was a show about building aquariums—no kidding! Then I watched it with my sons who are business savvy. It was like watching your favorite team in a tight game—lots of “oooh’s” and “awww’s.”

If you haven’t seen it, Shark Tank is a show where very successful investors hear a sales pitch from an upstart business or inventor. The back and forth action is intriguing! The personality of the investors, known as the Sharks, is out of central casting; it’s like a novel. They are so different in their approach. As you watch it, you develop certain dislikes and likes about the Sharks’ personalities. They often tend to have the same types of questions for the person who wants them to invest in their business.

My favorite is a guy who calls himself Mr. Wonderful, because he loves to be hated! He thrives on rejection. This may not be a bad quality to have in the ministry or in business. Sound off or odd? Knowing where you stand with people or where they stand with you is actually a good thing. That's why I like church memberships, ministry descriptions, and contracts—they bring clarity and let you know where you stand.

The failure to meet people’s expectations does more to hurt churches and businesses than the failure to perform. Think about it—I believe you will find that statement to be more true than we often realize. So, back to Mr. Wonderful. One of the questions he often asks is, “What is the cost of customer acquisition?” (i.e., how much advertising, salary or salespeople, web designers, etc., does it cost if you divided it up among all the people that buy…or if I put it in church terms, "buy in”?)

Example: A business is spending $1,000 a month and is getting 10 new customers. They know there is a cost of $100 per customer. For some businesses, that's great; for others, that’s terrible, depending on repeat business and their profit margins. This equation is often life or death for a business, or at least it tells them if their method of getting new customers is or isn't working.

Let's talk church now. Take a church with 150 people in attendance. Let's say the average tithe is $5,000 per week—a good number in some parts, not so good in others. Let's say they have three separate visitors a week, so that means it costs about $1,700 per customer/visitor. That's a lot, but is well worth a changed and committed life. (Unless, of course, they walk out the door and we have no real care or passion on how we are going to get them back, i.e., “buy in”.)

When a leader of a business doesn't follow up with me, I get the message that they don't need or want my business. They may say differently, but I think many people would agree with me. Actually, let me say this—I believe the more serious a customer or potential buyer is, the more they respond to and expect good follow-up.

I've called on homes for sale, had the agent answer a few questions and never ask me my name! I see churches that have the same idea. Their attitude is if someone likes the church, they will come back. Or worse, we are ok without their business. As a church, our follow-up strategy must be top shelf. That means we will change it if it does not work. We will spend money on it. We will train people to do it as prescribed. We will put our best people on it. We will not be ashamed about wanting them to join our ranks. We will not be ashamed about wanting to grow. We will not be ashamed about asking them to fill out a card, sign in, or actually having a real live, smiling person ask for their contact information. After all, what good is a follow-up program if you can't or won't get the information?

I can tell you that some of the best men I have ever pastored were guys I followed up on more than once! I pursued them, then trained others to do the same. If we don't do this, we become ingrown. The service becomes about how blessed we were, not about our mission to reach and capture more people for Jesus.

A business where it's okay to just get paid has lost the vision of innovation, customer satisfaction, and a greater payday in the future. The future is now! What are you going to do with the person who walks through the door, calls on the phone, or sends you an email? Is your mission to pay the bills or to grow? I can answer that question for you by looking at your follow-up commitment. 

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