Attract and Retain – Part 1 – Where to Begin
RICHARD H. RYDER (JANUARY, 2017)
If attracting and retaining members were easy every lodge would be doing it well, but that’s not always the case. Each lodge has varying degrees of success and that success may fluctuate between Masters. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet; every lodge is different, comprised of a mix of men with different backgrounds and opinions. However, with that said, lodges should strive to create a repeatable process for attracting, on-boarding, and retaining members. A well-defined process, created by a representative mix of members, is transferrable between the terms of several Masters.
So what’s the key to success?
When I became Lodge Ambassador in 2005 I walked away from a day of training energized to apply the lessons learned. But, I asked myself, “Where do I begin?” I decided as the “sales and marketing guy” to improve the “product”, thinking that a good product would sell itself. Although lodges should not compete or publically brag about how “great” they are, it is true that each lodge conveys a different dynamic. As the new Ambassador I felt it was my job to develop a process for strengthening the lodge from within, identify the “brand”, and promote that brand. Then, we had to live the brand to retain members. Not an easy task and we still struggle. However, the Japanese have a term for small, incremental improvements: Kaizen.
Instead of trying to solve all problems at once, why not identify who we are as a lodge, develop a 5 year plan, identify a key area of improvement, and build upon that? And so we did. I created a team of five lodge members representing various experiences and ages, and organized the first of many meetings over the next year.
Our vision and brand became “Living the Masonic tradition of fraternity, charity, and truth”.
Our key improvement priority was loosely defined as “improving membership”, but we needed to refine that even more. The result was two-fold:
- Improve the onboarding process to provide a repeatable experience for new members, from the time they inquire about the Fraternity to the point in time when they become a Master Mason and are starting to find their purpose within the lodge
- Strengthen the lodge by better preparing the Senior Warden for his upcoming term as Master, believing in the trickle-down approach, that improvements at the top of the hierarchy will manifest themselves throughout the lodge
To this day we are still practicing Kaizen, but it all started in 2007. In the next “Attract and Retain” series segment I will describe our approach and how we began. Stay tuned!