The Art (and Science) of the First-Time Guest Follow-Up Phone Call

In previous posts, I talked about the importance of following up with first-time guests (FTGs), and seven ways to structure your follow up process. Today: the phone call. If you’ve determined you should make one, what’s the best way to do so? I have five tried-and-true methods that have served me well over the years:

1. Redeem your otherwise-wasted time.

“I just don’t have any more margin to add something to my calendar!” Yes you do. It’s your daily commute, and you can trade off the time you’d listen to podcasts by investing in your guests. The Monday and Tuesday afternoon commutes are usually my go-to times for guest follow up. Typically, I’m catching guests at times they’re also in the car, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

2. Use the etiquette your mama gave you.

Identify who you are and what you do early in the phone call. “My name is ___ and I’m one of the staff members at ___ Church” will build an immediate bridge with someone who just visited your church. (It also sets you apart from telemarketers.)

Ask if this is a convenient time to talk. Sometimes the background noise or stress in their voice will answer that question. If it’s not a good time, ask when would be, and then make sure you call back as promised.

Focus the conversation on them and not you. ‘Nuff said.

3. Keep it short.

My goal is two minutes for the phone call, unless the guest is carrying the conversation and wants to talk longer. I have four things I want to cover:

  • A personal thanks for their visit. That “thank you” goes a long way.
  • “How was your experience?” This question opens lots of doors to the good and bad of their visit.
  • A chance for them to ask questions. 98% of the time, our guests don’t have any, but this gives them the opportunity.
  • An invitation to a next step. For us, this is our newcomers class called Starting Point. For you, it may simply be a return visit next weekend.

4. Voicemail is your friend.

In the last post I shared that on the first day of follow up calls, I will typically have 80% of my calls go to voicemail. However, if I leave a message and promise to follow up the next day at the same time, I will then get an 80% answer rate. So leave that voicemail…and follow up.

5. Make notes.

I’ll toggle back and forth between phone calls and my voice memo app in order to make sure I’m keeping good information. “Bob was invited by his co-worker Jerry. He’s lived here for a month and is actively looking for a church. His wife and kids are moving here in a few weeks.” That info will go into that person’s profile on our database, so that any other pastor can get up to speed when necessary.

I don’t like to admit this, but as one who doesn’t love talking on the phone, I’ve often said that the five minutes before making follow-up calls are the five most dreaded minutes of my week. But five minutes after the call, I’m always reminded that there’s no better investment of my time.


This post originally appeared on

Posted on October 28, 2022

Danny Franks is the Pastor of Guest Services at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, and the author of People Are the Mission: How Churches Can Welcome Guests Without Compromising the Gospel. Read more from Danny at
More from Danny

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *