What to do With New Guests

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Rabbi Einhorn’s SynaBlog is a new innovative blog that shares tips, tactics, strategies and best practices that enable Shul growth and promote Shul vitality.

How many new guests do I need to retain to grow my shul? Comparative church research seems to suggest that a shul must keep around 15 percent of its first time guests in order to experience a minimal growth of 5 percent annually. Synagogues that are in decline seem to only keep around 5-8% of their first time guests, if that. A fascinating study has shown that guests who come back a second week in a row after their first visit are probably going to become members (85% retention rate!).

The point of these numbers is to illustrate the importance of capitalizing on that first visit. By the way, don’t announce “we welcome our visitors”. The word “visitors” feels like outer space. Try “we welcome our guests”. Back to capitalizing on that first visit. Visitors make a whole bunch of decisions about their future in this shul in the first few seconds of entering. Considerations such as: 1) are they friendly? 2) is the room pleasant to sit in? 3) is the Rabbi likeable? Etc, etc.

Make sure when a new face enters the room that there’s a friendly contact, personal contact, prompt contact, and ultimately a continual contact.

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Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn is a Musmach of Yeshiva University. He has served as the founder of WINGS a Synagogue Consulting group. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Rabbi Einhorn was the Rabbi of Manhattan’s West Side Institutional Synagogue where he helped grow the membership by 70% over 4 years. Currently, he is the Rav and Dean of Yeshivat Yavneh.