Members of Congress talking during a facility visit.

Simple Rules for Facility Visits by Members of Congress

I recently wrote about inviting your Member of Congress to visit your facility. It’s the time of year where Members are ready to escape the heat, humidity, and sometimes frustrating legislative progress of Congress. My recent post discusses the very basics of how to extend the invitation and offers a guide for how your visit might unfold. If you have not extended the invitation for a visit during the upcoming August recess, it’s not too late. You can refresh here on how to make the invitation.

This post is the more advanced course of some specific things you might do and a few you expressly should not do to ensure a successful visit. They are so simple that you’d be surprised how often they are missed. Skim through these lists, and you’ll improve your odds of a pleasant visit. More importantly, you’ll advance your relationship.

If you hope to influence a position, make sure you have set the stage during the tour for the Member to see your perspective more vividly. Click To Tweet

Do’s for Facility Visits:

  • Preview the itinerary with staff in advance. This can be a simple email with a plan and timeline. Your effort to reach out demonstrates professionalism and respect.
  • Send very clear directions in advance with a map or map link that identifies the most expeditious route into your facility and parking lot. Your visitor doesn’t drive this route every day like you do.
  • Clearly identify a premium parking spot with some sort of welcome sign.
  • Offer a restroom break or freshen up on arrival.
  • Use name tags for employees.  
  • If safety gear is appropriate, have it all pre-staged: glasses, hard hats, hearing protection, shoe coverings, etc. The return and removal of this gear should be thoughtful as well. Have hand sanitizer ready.
  • Have multiple tour guides available, based on the size of the staff. Think 1-to-1 escort for each visitor who may accompany the Member of Congress.
  • Let your employees tell your company story and answer questions in their own words. Authentic responses will carry the day.
  • If there are useful briefing materials, provide one copy to staff and offer to send it electronically.
  • If you are hoping to influence a position, make sure you have set the stage during the tour for the Member to see your perspective more vividly. Be creative, but you don’t have to be obvious. Let the position reveal itself during your tour.
  • Be ready to answer, “How can I or my staff help you further?”

Don’ts for Facility Visits:

  • Offer a name tag to the Member of Congress.
  • Set up a detailed briefing in a conference room. Anything more than a 10-minute intro to the team is too long. Stay on your feet or in motion the entire time.
  • Cater an expensive meal. Anything beyond a light snack is too much.
  • Offer gifts, chachkies, or trinkets to commemorate the visit. Avoid the entire concept of them having to report receipt of a gift.
  • Go over the agreed timeline. Staff will attempt to keep the Member on schedule; help them do this. The Member may send a mixed signal, suggesting they can stay longer. Keeping them longer will hurt your chances for future interactions.
  • Be so rigid with your schedule that you don’t respond to an opportunity in the moment. If something piques the Member’s interest that is “off the script,” go with it.
  • Try to tell them everything you know. You are the expert at your business; that’s not in question.
  • Tell them you contributed to their campaign. They know.
  • Become pen pals on email or text afterward. A gracious thank you for visiting, with any promised follow-up info or material is sufficient.
  • Overdo it with pictures. Members are always happy for some individual and group photos, but be ready. No fumbling with cameras and poses.

If you think you have a creative idea for a visit, I’m happy to be your sounding board. I’ve participated in a few of these and can quickly tell you what will work and what will not. Good luck with your visit.

If you need assistance securing government grants for your policy or product, schedule a call with Gene or click here to learn more about the services available to help companies to improve their positions and achieve significant improvements in federal sales outcomes.

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