Hosting a Tour of Your Operation
Hometown “in district” engagement is a vital way to provide a first-hand account and illustrate how you work, day in and day out, to provide healthy, safe and affordable food to all Americans. Tours allow your elected officials to see the direct impact on the economy, local community and how federal policies are impacting the growth and success of your business. Members of Congress are precisely interested in the thoughts and opinions of their constituents back home.
Showcasing your business firsthand is a great way to build working relationships for your company and increase support for the fruit and vegetable industry. Likewise, these relationships enable IFPA to reinforce and personalize the power of fresh on Capitol Hill. Staying engaged with your elected officials and regular follow-up can make for a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your member of Congress!
This template can also be used for local and state legislators.
Legislators enjoy getting the opportunity to visit constituents at their place of work. Hosting is a great way to educate them about issues. During recess periods, members of Congress are in their home states to hold events, meet with constituents and work out of their local offices. It is during this time that IFPA members have an extraordinary opportunity to reach out to their legislators and educate them about issues that affect our industry. Below are some tips on how to orchestrate a memorable visit. It’s as easy as 1-2-3-4:
- Choose Timeframe: Pick a range of dates to accommodate busy legislative schedules, location and topic for your event. The length of a recess can vary from a week to over a month. Consult the current recess calendar for exact dates. Don’t host the tour in your off season or when everyone is on lunch break and there is no action happening.
- IFPA staff: Reach out, IFPA staff have great resources and will help support your efforts.
- Submit Tour Request: to the Washington, DC office of your legislator. (See “Sample Meeting Request Note.”) Effective scheduling is the most important aspect of your event. We suggest emailing the invitation to the office scheduler, they may have the district staff finalize details. If you have previously met with a relevant member of the legislative team, we also recommend sending the same invitation to them, letting them know that you have already made a request with the scheduler. Be sure to call to follow up.
#2: Before the Tour
- Devil is in the Details: Share clear logistic information with the Congressional office, including what to wear and not wear (close-toed shoes, rubber sole bottom shoes, etc), an address a GPS understands, where to park, and a name and cell phone number of who will be greeting them.
- "Do's and Don'ts" for hosting an elected official (see "Do's and Don'ts")
- Create a Run of Show: (See “Run of Show Template”) Ask the scheduler how long the Member will be onsite, times may range from 30 minutes to 2 hours, which significantly changes the flow.
- Determine Roles: Who in your organization will be involved with planning and executing the meeting and tour? Hold prep meetings to assign duties and touch base on status
- Choose the Tour Guide with Care: The guide should be articulate, knowledgeable about the operation as well as issues that concern the company and know by name everyone the legislator is likely to meet. We recommend having 1 Rockstar and 2-3 staff members to help make things run smoothly and answer questions.
- Map Out the Tour. Develop a tour route and schedule that illustrates the objectives you set for the visit. Allow for extra time if the legislator wants to remain longer in one location.
Participate in a hands-on activity such as riding/driving a tractor, harvesting the crop, or stuffing food boxes will have a BIG impact and leave a memorable impression on the legislator
People are who elect legislators, remember, employees are the legislator's constituents, allow for interaction.
Pause throughout the tour to discuss your site’s economic profile and the impact it has on the legislator’s district. Examples: note the cost of a new tractor or investment in research and development, the amount of water used, sustainability practices).
Practice your route, comments and prepare for possible questions.
- Arrange for Photos: It’s important to designate someone on your team to take photos of the event with permission from the legislator’s office. Make sure they know where, when and of what within your operation they are allowed to take photos of.
- Notify all Company Team Members about the Upcoming Visit. (See “Company Notification Memo”}
Who is coming
Date and Time
Purpose of the visit
Keep work areas neat and tidy
Wear company gear with logos
Do you want them to say anything during the tour? (See “Team Member Request”)
- Prepare key equipment and safety gear ahead of time. Ensure that equipment is operating to provide a clear demonstration. Provide safety gear to all participants when necessary.
- Review Industry Priority Issues: Check out the latest on the issues that your company is most concerned about and their impact on our state.
#3: Day of Tour
- It's Tour Time! Implement the Run of Show and Tour Map you developed in pre-planning.
- Welcome the Legislator: Have everyone who will be participating on the tour assembled ahead of time and ready to greet the legislator when they arrive. Confirm when the legislator has to leave, schedules changes, adjust the flow as needed.
- Begin With the Legislator’s Remarks: Allow the legislator to make remarks and answer a few questions from employees prior to you starting the tour. After, while employees return to their stations, you can prepare the legislator for the tour.
- Provide $, % and #’s and Brief Company Overview: Before you start on the tour, take a few moments to highlight what a legislator needs to know about your business
- Refer to the “Do’s and Don’ts for hosting an elected official
- Tour Time! Implement the Tour Map you developed.
- Conclude the tour with a nice tasting and brief discussion. Provide the opportunity to taste your products [if applicable] while answering the legislator's questions and reemphasize key message points!*
- Share Photographs: Send photos taken during the tour to the legislator staff and include thank you remarks. Many offices have newsletters of happenings in the district and social media they may post to. IFPA would also like to highlight your advocacy, share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#4: Follow-Up After the Visit
- Send a Thank You Following your event, send the member of Congress, and their staff, a handwritten thank you note for attending the meeting. If you promised follow-up information, this is a prime opportunity to send it. If the member agreed to take action on legislation, politely remind them or thank them again for taking action. (No later than a week following the meeting)
- Tell IFPA About Your Meeting Email email@example.com to tell IFPA about your meeting. This information is important in our continued communications with members of Congress.
*Please note: Companies often like to give Members of Congress a branded item from their visit, which is allowable. Please just be aware that House of Representative ethics rules state that a Member or congressional employee may not accept any gift valued over $50, with a limitation of $100 in gifts from any single source in a calendar year. Gifts having a value of less than $10 do not count toward the annual limit.