First impressions matter, there is little debate on that issue. You can have the best possible products, offer the highest of quality services, employees from Harvard and equipment straight out of Elon Musk’s head, but it all won’t matter much if you leave a poor first impression.
Simply put, they won’t really get the chance to notice all these amazing things about your company if they’re not wowed by you in the first place? And why should they – whatever line of work you are in, we are pretty sure it’s saturated, full of competition. Now, one of the main avenues of creating first impressions are websites, cold calls, and your office. Today, we will be dealing with the third option.
Namely, your office is a reflection of your company. Its style, decor, the actual size of the place, it all points towards just how successful you are. A big, lavishly decorated office with a welcoming lounge and cheerful staff will let a customer know they are in the right place. A dirty, cramped office with glum employees does not make people feel confident in your abilities. Namely, it makes you seem like business isn’t going well, even though it might be amazing. So, with that in mind, we suggest you read the article below and figure out exactly how to impress every client that walks through your door.
Prepare your employees
First things first – every single one of your employees need to treat every single visitor like they are a million dollar customer. It’s a matter of respect, it’s a sign that your company actually cares about people, and not only about money. So, eye contact, smiling, polite conversation, these all make a difference and let people know that you care about them. It can make any customer feel welcome, and just have them think they are part of the family.
Furthermore, think about how people dress at your office. Know that your dress code says a lot about you and your company, it’s a sign of the personality of the entire place, of how people approach their work and their business. Perhaps you want to present yourself as youthful, energetic, flexible, and relaxed. Causal wear and polos are great for this. On the other hand, maybe you have a strict dress code that’s all about ties, suits, and the like… Essentially, think about what the client will think about the moment he sees your people at the office.
Who is manning the reception?
Think about your reception staff and your lobby. This isn’t just some place that people pass by, your reception staff are the first people, and the lobby is the first place, a client sees once he or she enters your building. So, it needs to be ready and waiting.
Your receptionists should be as polite and as cordial as possible. Even if they are on the phone all the time, they should still make eye contact, use hand gestures, and let people know that they will get some assistance the moment the phone call ends.
Your lobby should, of course, be impeccable, and very comfortable. Is the place bright and welcoming, or is it dark and dreary? Think about placing a lobby board as well, one that welcomes the client who just walked in.
Keep the place clean
Cleanliness is next to godliness, or so they say. Well, think about what your client will think if he sees a dirty, filthy office. And we of course now that you won’t leave puddles of mud all around the office. But, even the little things, like a couple of overflowing wastebaskets, dust in semi-discrete places, scuffed floors, worn carpets, chipped paint… All of these show that you don’t give 100% effort to your office, either through your own cleaning, or the cleaning ladies you hired. So, if you don’t give 100% to the area you all work in all the time, why would the client believe you will give him or her your 100%?
The same goes for any room you think there is no chance in heaven the client will visit. Who knows, maybe he or she insists on a grand tour – why would you refuse them if you got nothing to hide? Don’t allow some basic sloppiness to go unnoticed. Rather, be 100% certain that the cleaning company you hired does its job properly, at all times, and that your employees at least somewhat stick to common decency and actually clean up after themselves.
Think about the design of the place
But, another aspect that matters is how the actual place is designed. Now, depending on your line of work, this can be a greater or smaller issue. An architectural firm, or one dealing with interior design, needs to take more care on how the entire office is set up. But that still doesn’t leave you off the hook. Namely, an overcrowded, stuffy office with horrible ventilation and no natural light is a very depressing sight to look at.
What we advise is to just try and make as visually appealing as possible. Get as much natural light in as possible, get rid of any excess clutter, and think about how you handle storage. The last thing you need is to have your client suffer a fit of claustrophobia the moment he or she enters your office.
You also want plants, as much vegetation in there as possible. It will improve everybody’s moods, it will look nice, and will help clean out and refresh the air inside the building.
Avoid design clichés
Now, do try and avoid design clichés in your office design. Things like huge motivation quotes strewn over walls, hang in there kitty posters, they just make you seem condescending and, quite frankly, annoying.
Next, while we understand that Google has gaming consoles, pool tables, and home entertainment systems in their offices…well, we hate to break it to ya, but you’re most likely not Google. You will at best seem like you’re just following trends blindly. At worst, your client will think that all you really do here is have fun, play games, and chill. And if you really do find all these things useful, at least try to find a way to hide them from the client while he or she is visiting. And if you have people come to your office on a regular basis, try to then keep all these goodies far away from the areas where your customers are most likely to hang out at.
Of course, food and refreshments. First of all, coffee. Everybody likes coffee, everybody needs coffee. We suggest you get some heavy duty commercial coffee machines to power your company and keep everybody awake. However, take taste into consideration as well, and actually, buy some of the better stuff. So, keep your customers refreshed as well. Serve them coffee, some fruit, pastries, a snack. Anything basically to avoid them being hungry and stressed. You want them as relaxed as possible. Have a wide assortment of teas there as well, and just work towards being the best host you can be.
Professional, but warm
Now, as far as your approach is concerned, we do believe that professionalism trumps all. You need to show clients that you are serious, that you know what you are doing, and that you are in control at all times. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be warm, that you can’t be human. Of course, this one is up to you to figure out, you need to read your clients properly. But, in general, people respond well to a warm, real smile, and a firm handshake.
The same should apply to your office. Keep things neat, tidy, but not clinical. We suggested you never let it become dirty, but a little chaos can make it seem a bit more human. So, no need for strict floor plans and wall panels. Furthermore, allow (even encourage) employees to bring some keepsakes from home, to get some stuff with which they can customize their desks.
Your brand matters
Brand, brand, brand. This word has been thrown around a lot these days. However, this isn’t because it’s just so fashionable and cool, but rather, because it serves a strong purpose. Namely, your brand is your identity, it represents who you as a company are, and what your products and services are like. So, are you cool, progressive, liberal, always at the edge of technology and advancements? Or are you a bit more traditional, subdued, you take things steady, you are safe and stable? Both of these (and many other styles) are valid. But, how do you present this? Try to have your office reflect the energy that can be found in your office, either through clothing (we spoke about that) or through design and choice of furnishing.
Now, we droned one and one about how first impressions matter and they of course do, but there are some other parts where you can save face, or cement a positive impression even more. Namely, try to have a place in your office that is quiet, subdued. You want an area that will allow you and the client to talk in peace, separated from everybody else. We suggest you have a meeting room somewhere in the office, a place with noise insulated walls, and a place where you won’t be disturbed.
The point here isn’t that you are conducting top-secret government business that cannot be talked about anywhere else. No, it’s more about creating an atmosphere of peace and of trust for your client.
Remember that you got only one shot at leaving the first impression – so make it count. Keep in mind just how important your brand is, and how it presents itself. Try to be professional and courteous, but also deal with a little bit of friendliness, a little bit of warmth. Let your client know he or she is in good hands. Your decor matters as well, an office outfitted in a classy, serene style will attract much more serious clientele when compared to a gaudy, gauche looking thing. Finally, keep the entire place clean, and prepare your employees well.