There’s no avoiding it: first-time visitors to your office are judging everything from your receptionist manners to the noise volume. Now’s the time to feel self-conscious and make sure your office makes the right first impression.
As your visitors arrive at your offices, what’s the first thing they see? From the exterior of your building (and its immediate surroundings), to the lobby and reception area, each step of the journey builds up an impression of your company, even before they’ve reached your actual office.
While an eye-catching building and state-of-the-art reception is every business owner’s dream, start by focusing on the little details rather than big statements.
Irrespective of your company or brand image (see below), every office needs to be well sign-posted (so that it’s easy to find you), clean, and tidy. The latter also includes making sure all your staff are well presented too! Grubby hallways and litter around the exterior can leave a lasting impression.
Visiting an unfamiliar office is like stepping into someone else’s house – you immediately notice the distinctive smell (whether it’s pleasant or fusty). On the other hand, those who work there regularly usually don’t notice it at all.
Odours you take for granted – everything from food smells to overpowering aftershave or even carpets which aren’t quite as fresh as they should be – will combine to make a powerful first impression on your visitors’ olfactory organs. Call it “Eau de Office” – but make sure yours is as pleasant as possible.
More specifically, when visitors first arrive at your offices what they really need to hear is buzz. That’s the buzz of dozens of employees busily working away as opposed to the kind of buzz which suggests your office bears more of a resemblance to a playground than a workplace.
It says we’re busy, we’re proactive, and we’re successful. In other words: three solid reasons to work with you.
Once you’ve completed the office tour, however, you might not want to hear that background noise. When it’s time to get down to discussions you need to make sure that there’s somewhere you can go to hear each other talk.
4. Brand perceptions
Does it match up with their perceptions of your brand? A disconnect here could cause your visitors to completely re-evaluate how they see your company – and even whether they want to do business with you.
Before you reach for the paint, getting this right doesn’t have to mean decking your space from entryway to exit in logos, framed pictures of the founder and walls slathered in your corporate colours.
What’s more important is to look for the overall message which your offices convey. If you’ve positioned yourself as a high-end brand then designer-style furnishings and immaculate presentation are a must. On the other hand, if you’re a value-based brand, then a basic approach to furnishing and styling your space is fine.
Were they greeted warmly and professionally on arrival? Were they kept waiting? And if this was absolutely necessary, did they have somewhere comfortable to wait? Were they offered drinks and food?
Everything, right down to the glass their water arrives in, culminates in an overall impression of your hospitality. In turn, that reflects on the kind of customer service they can expect if they decide to do business with you. Aim for a seamless hospitality experience for your guests. This will convey the message that you take great care in everything you do.
Which of these do you think is most important when making a first impression?