What do you REALLY know about your members? Why is it so important to get that information? And specifically what questions should you be asking to get it? Today we will cover all of those questions and give you a great template of questions to start from.
First, here's a quick update from our last post which was about Preparations you can make while the lodge is dark. As you know if you read that one, the purpose of this blog is to document the process of how Wheaton Lodge 269 is trying to turn our lodge around and fill the room for our next installation meeting.
Last time we talked about getting our first real fundraiser started, which is our private blog, and we did get that up and running. We also talked about trying to reconnect with some former members by letting them see our progress through this public blog, and we had some success there too. The Secretary of our lodge and I were able to meet a brother who has been a Mason for more than 60 years, and this was a key member our lodge, i.e. one of those guys who was responsible for getting a great deal of the work done when it was needed. We gave him a tour of our building and reconnected with him, which was great.
We also expanded our email list with some former members, although we still have a long way to go on that, and we're almost done getting all the automated emails and notifications set up that we talked about in the last post. Those are really going to give our lodge a boost.
Last but not least, we were able to claim a custom URL for our YouTube channel, YouTube.com/SuccessfulMasons. So it's been a productive few weeks.
Now let's move on to today's topic, the essential questions to ask your members, and how to keep track of that information.
At Wheaton Lodge, this is not something we have spent a lot of time on. Our focus has been on finding new ways to encourage guys to show up to meetings and practices, and frankly we weren't having much luck with that. We just kept hearing people say they were going to "step back from lodge for a little while".
NOTE: If you ever hear someone say that, that's just a brother who's not being fulfilled at lodge. He's coming to lodge and he's not getting much out of it. He joined for a reason, and whatever that reason was, he's not getting the experience that he wanted. So he's trying to politely tell you he's done wasting his time by coming to meetings!
So how do we give him the experience he wanted? What DOES he want? How can we find out what he wants? By asking questions, and asking the RIGHT questions.
If you just point blank ask a brother, "so what you do want from this anyway?", you're just going to see their shoulders shrug, and you won't get much of an answer. So this needs to be a conversation, because when you sit down with someone where the expectations are that you're going to talk about what's going on at lodge and specifically how we can make it a better experience for them, you'll get more thoughtful answers. When you ask more thought provoking questions, you'll get exactly what you're looking for.
How do you start this conversation?
We found that starting these conversations with the essential questions you really should have answered about every member is a good way to get the ball rolling. It gets the person talking and puts there mind completely on Masonry.
Two of the most essential things you should know about everyone in your lodge is the date they were made a Master Mason, and their birthday. Even if you have it in the records already, double check your records by asking.
Like we talked about in the last video, these dates provide opportunities for the lodge to show brothers that you care by acknowledging the dates, and setting up the automated emails and texting service so they get an email and a text from the lodge celebrating the day. As we showed you in the last post, that's all automated so the secretary isn't doing any work on that at all. For information on how to do that, check out our last post called Preparations while the lodge is dark.
Also, make sure you have their current email address and phone number, but to help expand your list, ask them if they are still in contact with any brothers who don't come to the meetings anymore, and if they have their email addresses and phone numbers. That will help you to expand your email list for lodge communication, and could entice those brothers to start coming back when you include them in the conversations.
Another key question you should know the answer to about all of your members is, when the time comes, which hopefully won't be for a very long time, but when it does, do they want a Masonic Funeral? The lodge should have a record of that. And that's something you can revisit each year or every couple of years to see if anyone has changed their thoughts about it, and maybe have this whole conversation with them again. If the lodge knows a brother's wishes, then that's just one less question the family has to answer during a very difficult time.
The funeral question is also a nice transition question into the conversation about Masonry, because at that point they're really focusing on the importance of Masonry in their lives.
So now let's get to the meat of this whole thing. You want to know what they want to get out of Masonry so that the lodge can start helping them to get that, but ease into it, hit it from some different angles. Start by asking them why they joined in the first place. What did they think it was before they joined, and what were they hoping it was before they joined. I think you'll be surprised by some of the answers.
Then ask them, now that they joined, how has that perception changed? What are they hoping to get from it now? What has made them stay? Or if it's a brother who stopped coming, ask why they stopped. Ask if they are contributing in the way that they had envisioned they would be contributing when they joined? Where do they see their role in lodge being in 5 years from now, how would they be involved at that point? And as you can probably see here, you're going to get into some very interesting conversations with these questions.
Speaking of which, here's an interesting question I've started asking that I've really been shocked at some of the answers, which is, are you doing something to support masonry, or any masons in particular, that nobody else knows about? Or do you know of something that another brother is doing for the fraternity that you don't think is common knowledge, but that we should celebrate?
I'll share some of the answers I've been hearing at our lodge at the end of this blog so I don't get off track here, but those two questions have just completely re-inspired my excitement about Wheaton Lodge from the answers I've heard so far. I definitely recommend you ask those.
Now let's get creative and find new ways to get them involved in ways that they wouldn't have thought about. Try asking them to tell you about a skill they have, or an accomplishment, that nobody would ever guess that they have, or that they don't think anyone at lodge knows about.
When you get the information, keep track of the answers in a file somewhere because you never know when that skill would come in handy. We started asking that question and found out we have 3 guys in our lodge who know how to play guitar! We had no idea! Not only does that create opportunities for us now to tell those guys that they have that in common and strengthen their friendships with other members inside the lodge, but also, have you ever been to a degree with an acoustic guitar playing lightly in the background? It's a really nice touch.
On the other hand, maybe they'll tell you about a skill that will NEVER come in handy. For example, if you asked me that question I'd say that I doubt anyone knows that I can ride a unicycle, which really is useless information, but that's okay, just the time you're spending with the brother getting to know them better, and some of the strange things they know how to do, is strengthening the bond between you, and thereby strengthening your lodge.
There's a long list of additional questions you can ask, just remember, we have a total of 61 questions, but you don't have to ask them all in one sitting. Kind of like the Mackay 66. Salespeople are typically familiar that list of questions. The business tycoon Harvey Mackay, who wrote How to Swim with the Sharks without being Eaten Alive, came up with this list called the Mackay 66. It has 66 pieces of personal information to find out about every client to help you build rapport with them and get to know them better and better each time you talk with them. You don't get the answers to all the questions in one sitting, just get one or two here and there, and put them in your file for that person and review the file before each time you meet them so you have talking points that matter to them. The questions about their family, do they have kids, how many, what are their names, are they married, where did they grow up, what are their hobbies, those types of things. So you can use some of them directly, and then you can add questions more specific to Masonry like if they're members of any other lodges? Or honorary members of other lodges? Did they post long form or short form? Did they post their third? What roles do they know or want to know?
If you want the whole 61 question list we're using, we actually created a really cool excel sheet to track all this information. You just click on the member's name and it takes you to their page to fill out as much as you can. You can have a sheet for every member of your lodge. This tool even counts the number of questions you've already answered so you know how many you have left to ask. If you decide you want to modify the questions on your list, we set this up so you just change the question on the master questions page and it will automatically update across all your member pages for you so you don't have to cut and paste the new question over and over across all your member pages. This is a great tool for Masonic Lodges.
If you're interested in using this tool for your lodge, we have it available with all 61 questions we are asking in our Private Blog, which as I mentioned in the last post. That private blog is a fundraiser for Wheaton Lodge number 269 to help our lodge get things turned around, and to help job seekers find new positions, which is a cause our lodge supports. To access the private blog is just $5 per month for as long as you want to follow our journey, you can cancel any time, but you'll always get more detail about the initiatives we're working on, like getting our list of questions and this tool, getting the automation tools from our last video, and seeing the results we're getting from our efforts there as well. So if you're interested in that, please go sign up for our private blog and you'll have access to these tools to help your lodge.
The last thing I want cover quickly here is how to get your guys to start asking these questions. I mentioned in the last post that I learned a fantastic program that our Grand Lodge in Illinois started to help lodges out with this, which is to have the newest members of your lodge interview the guys who have been members the longest and give a quick 3 or 5 minute report on what they learned in your stated meetings.
Their plan was to have the stewards interview the principle officers and vice versa. The idea is to get guys who likely don't know each other as well, to sit down together and talk so they DO get to know each other. When they report back on the highlights of the conversation, you'll be surprised how many people learn something new about a brother who thought they thought they already knew pretty well. "You play guitar? I didn't know that! Me too!" or that they like to fish, or ride motorcycles, or unicycles, or whatever. It's a great way to help your lodge get more connected internally so we hope more lodges will get behind their initiative.
Before I close, I mentioned earlier that I would share what I learned when I asked about what some of our guys are doing behind the scenes that nobody else knows about, I found out about a guy who recently moved and one of our guys that I would have never guessed, spent his entire day over there helping him move boxes. Another guy whose son unfortunately passed away unexpectedly this year, I learned that 3 or 4 guys went over to help empty out his son's apartment for him. Another guy has been visiting other lodges to see how they run their business meetings to help us run ours better.
There was one more guy, and this really blew my mind, you know Masons talk about looking after the widows of Masons who have passed, right? As far as I knew, that basically meant that every Christmas we would deliver poinsettias and go visit them, talk with them, and offer to help out if they ever needed anything, but we never really heard from them. Well, we have a brother in our lodge who has a 20 minute drive to get to our meetings, and every single Tuesday on his way to lodge he calls a different widow just to check in to see how they're doing and ask if he can help with anything! And apparently he's helped them move furniture around, paint, give them rides to places, and all kinds of things. I had no idea, and I don't think anyone else in our lodge knew either.
To me, THAT'S what masonry is about! It's helping each other out, being there for one other, and each other's families. To see him doing that just shows that it's really possible that we can do this, and if we can get our act together as a lodge, we could all be doing more great things like that. I think if more guys in lodge saw us doing that for one another, we would NEVER hear anyone say that they are going to "step back from lodge for a little while" ever again!
So even though we've just started this process and only a handful of these conversations have happened so far, I'm excited to find out what else we're going to learn as we keep asking these questions, and I would encourage you to do the same.
Start talking with your members. You're going to find new ways to get them involved, you'll strengthen the bond between you, and you might even find new ways to get yourself more involved too. Again, if you join our private blog, you can read more about the results we're getting because we'll post the successes, and the setbacks, so you know how well this stuff is working for us.
In our next post we'll talk about how to start re-engaging with members that your lodge has completely lost touchwith as we're starting to do that ourselves at Wheaton Lodge, and if you're interested in joining Wheaton Lodge or visiting Wheaton lodge, please contact us through our facebook page, which is facebook.com/WheatonLodge269. Thanks for following our journey, and we look forward to posting our most recent results for you soon.