[cross-posted at LeaderTalk]

Last month I blogged about the importance of first impressions. In other words, what do visitors see and hear when they first walk into your school organization? Is that experience positive or negative? This month's post will be on exit strategy.

No, I don't mean your own personal strategy for getting out! Instead, I mean what are visitors' experiences when they leave your organization? Do they see some interesting, motivating, or upbeat message as they walk out of the building? Do they see charts of significant progress the school is making? Are there pictures of students doing interesting work? Does someone say something nice to them as they leave? Are they leaving their visit with a positive taste in their mouth?

Like first impressions, what visitors see and hear as they leave your building can have big impacts on their overall feelings and beliefs about your organization. Leaders should strive to have every visitor walk away with a positive impression of the organization. If that's not possible, perhaps due to a difficult conversation that just occurred inside, leaders should at least do everything they can to minimize the negative feelings with which visitors leave. No one wants visitors to leave unhappy, ready to spread the bad news about your organization to others.

As leaders, I encourage you to take a critical, objective look at your school's entry and exit experiences. Ask yourself, 'As a visitor, what do I see and hear when I enter and leave this place? How am I treated during my time in this building?' Get others to do this too – they'll have different thoughts and impressions than you will. Brainstorm ways to make outsiders' visits more positive and hospitable – you'll probably find many low or no cost ways of improving those experiences.

Oh, and did I mention that whatever you come up with also should help the general vibe of your students and staff too?

Y'all come back now, hear?