Christian Retailing

INSIGHTS: Loving your leaders Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 10:49 AM America/New_York

by Bobby Williams 

One of the keys to running a successful church bookstore is building good relationships with the leaders and pastors in the church. Here are some practical ways to build those bridges:

Favorites: Everyone loves to be remembered, especially for a unique reason. Knowing the favorite authors and artists of your pastors and leaders is a great way of doing this. Look at each new issue of Christian Retailing to see if one of your pastor's favorite authors or artists is coming out with a new product.

You may want to e-mail or call him to let him know you’ll have the new product in the bookstore as soon it releases. When it arrives, remind him again by e-mail or phone, letting him know the price after the staff discount. Better yet, if the budget allows for it, order one and give it as a gift.

Discounts: Offering savings is a tangible way to let your leaders and pastors know you’re trying to help them and the church. Many church bookstores offer a discount for all staff purchases, whether personal or ministry-related.

Previews: Vendors may have free items to pass to you for previewing when you’re at a trade show or other industry event, or even during visits from your vendor representative. Be careful, though—this is a privilege that should not be abused.

Consider passing on the giveaway to a pastor or leader in your church and saying: “I got this book and thought of you. Would you read it, and let me know what you think?” That is where the relationship with your pastors and leaders come into play—you can't really do that with someone you don’t know.

Giveaways: Don't be  afraid to just give something away. When we began carrying a new apparel line, we gave our student pastors the option of coming into the store and picking out an item or two at no cost to them, and they loved it.

We asked for them to occasionally wear the item on the night of their youth service, and let the students know it was available in the bookstore. Our pastors felt appreciated and blessed. The cost for the product was minor in comparison to the revenue that came in over the next few months. We continue to offer this to the pastors each time a new catalog comes out.

It’s also a good idea to give things away on holidays. During the Christmas season, you may want to send a card to every staff member. In the past, we’ve given each staff member a Christmas gift such as a small Bible on CD-ROM or a wooden pen with the church logo and Web site on it.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

—Bobby Williams is the former director of resource ministries for Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.