10 Tips for a Successful Open House
(Richard H. Ryder, 2017)
With the Massachusetts open house in October, now is the time to begin planning. Since July and August are typically ‘dark’, you really only have three and a half productive months to rally the Brethren. With that said a good team of core planners can take full advantage of the summer months to get a lot of the behind the scenes activities accomplished. Here are just a few of tips to keep in mind
- Plan early – the most important step. A successful open house takes a lot of time and can have several moving parts. In particular, start you internal promotion before the Masonic term ends in June
- Select a team of 2 – 3 other planners to assist and advise you. Be sure to select members you can trust to be energetic, creative, self-starters, and can work independently. Small teams are best, and remember, six people are not necessarily better and more productive than 3. A small team made up of the right people is more efficient and productive
- Divide your strategy into 4 sequential phases: Planning, staging, implementation, and post-implementation. Planning – the longest phase which takes up 80% of your time. Staging – the next to last week before the event where everything starts to come together. Implementation – covers the week that includes the event date where final preparations are made and the event is actually held. Post-implementation – where post event activities occur, most especially the ‘lessons learned’ meeting you hold to understand successes and improvements for next year
- Right away, start a list of all activities you need to accomplish. Add to or change the list as you progress and use it as a checklist. Be sure to assign an owner and a scheduled completion date to each item
- Get access to a good electronic spreadsheet tool and use the sample Open House Planning Spreadsheet at MasonicMaven.org to record your phases, sub-categories, activities, owners, and scheduled completion dates
- Leverage and maximize social media like Facebook and Twitter. In Facebook, at least 2 – 4 weeks before your event, consider ‘boosting’ your promotional posts and events; it is cheap and you can target certain demographics like age, gender, and location. If you are not comfortable using social media, find someone, Mason or non-Mason, to help you.
- Consider ordering 500 promotional business cards and distribute them to anyone – brethren, family, friends, etc. Encourage all brethren to do the same. Business cards are easy to hand out at public events like town days where a lodge might have a booth. They are cheap and easy to design online at company web sites like Vistaprint.
- Be creative in planning your open house event. I like to take a ‘blue sky’ approach where money and resources are not a problem. This starts the creative juices, after which you can scale back to accommodate budgets, work force, location, schedule, etc.
- Take advantage of resources at Grand Lodge for advice and any possible programs to help offset expenses
- Within a few days after the event, while memories are fresh, don’t forget to conduct a “lessons learned” meeting (A.K.A. post-mortem) with the planning team and a few others who took part in the process. At this meeting discuss and record what went well, so you can repeat it or improve upon it, and what could be improved. This will give you a jump start for the following year.
Richard H. Ryder, April 2017