What Your Front Office Says About Your Business
Usually I write my columns about home organizing. Today's column is going to be geared to the small business owner. I have four experiences to share.
Experience #1: In 2012 I was in the market for a new dentist. I had asked for recommendations from friends that I trust and got several names. I started with the one whose recommendation was a WOW.
What did I do? I showed up at the office with no appointment to check out the "vibe." I was greeted by a very enthusiastic receptionist who was happy to meet me. I explained that I did not have an appointment; and that I was in the market for a new dentist and had heard great things about this practice. She was excited to speak with me and explain how my first appointment would be handled. She thanked me for my interest in becoming a patient. As other staff members came to the front desk, I was introduced and I could feel their enthusiasm as well.
The reception area was neat, clean, well lit, and comfortably decorated. The coffee counter was well maintained and orderly (you know how I love that!). I got a sense of peace being there and I knew that my search for a new dentist had ended.
Experience #2: During my first few months of startup I networked / cold called many realtors in the area. Knowing that realtors could be a great source of referrals for my growing home organizing business, I set a goal for myself to drop off cookies and business cards at targeted realtors in 3 surrounding towns just before Christmas (2014). My experience in each office was very telling about the business that I was calling on.
There were many workers that did not even look up to acknowledge me when I walked in the door. I was told to leave the cookies by their desk as if to say…"so what." On the other hand, some employees were so professional and excited to meet me, even though clearly they were busy handling important client matters. I was mentally taking notes on who I would refer business to when the time came to work with clients in each of their neighborhoods.
Experience #3: Every week my husband and I take my Uncle Eddie out to lunch. We go to our favorite Italian restaurant for a couple of reasons: it's easy for my uncle (who has memory problems) to deal with the same parking lot, menu, bathroom, and wait staff, the food is great, when we walk in the door we are greeted like we are family, and there are always hugs from our favorite servers.
On nights that Don and I venture out alone as a couple or with friends, we like to frequent our favorite burger place because we get an enthusiastic welcome from their hostess (who also happens to work at a realtor and she is just as sweet there too!), the burgers & salmon (my favorite) are always delicious, and we feel like valued customers of their establishment.
Example #4: In January Don and I took advantage of a local sale at a fine art store. I have very limited free time thanks to my growing business, so for me to take a couple of hours on a Sunday to go shopping for artwork was just as exciting as a weekend in the country. The time that we spent in the shop was fun, warm, and the whole experience brought us joy. We took our time, and the staff was patient with our questions and decision making.
For the small business owner, I suggest that you look at your reception area through a stranger's eyes. Be honest with yourself; would you buy from you? Think about what you can do to provide your clients and prospects with a WOW experience when they walk in your door. It may take some training of staff, or perhaps organizing, de-cluttering, and cleaning up your front office. Whatever it takes it will be worth your time and money. Let me know how it works out for you, I'd love to share YOUR experience with our readers.
Eileen Bergman is a Professional Organizer, a proud member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Eileen may be reached at 973 303 3236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2016 Eileen Bergman