All your life, you may have heard the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” as schoolteachers, parents, and the like tried to teach you that first impressions are rarely reliable. While this is generally true and applicable to many facets of our lives, it is in no way relevant to the business world, and running a business without making an effort to ensure customers’ first impressions are positive is a formula for disaster.
First impressions are vitally important in the business world, as most customers will make a snap judgment about whether they want to patronize your company in as little as seven seconds. Moreover, it isn’t what you say that is likely to set customers’ alarm bells ringing, although verbal missteps do leave a uniquely deep impression on their psyche; no, it’s the nonverbal cues that play the most significant part in the forming of a first impression. Things like the neatness and cleanliness of your apparel, your body language, and the overall cleanliness and beautification of your workplace.
Picture this: you’re going to patronize a brand new company that has sprung up in your area… one that claims to be the best out of all its competitors and has offered you an incentive to visit their headquarters. You pull up to their headquarters, only to notice that the façade of their building is crusty, caked with dirt and rust, their parking lot is full of trash and cigarette butts, and their lawn is dead, brown, and like to blow away entirely with the next strong gust of wind. Are you going in? Of course not! You’re turning around and going home because if this new company can’t be bothered to maintain a neat outward appearance, they certainly can’t be trusted with your business.
Maintaining a clean, neat façade is integral to both making a positive first impression and delivering on first impressions already made, though this is often overlooked. This article will go over several easy routines you can implement to keep your business’s façade clean and keep customers rolling into your doors.
Daily Cleaning Detail: Pick Up That Trash
Generally speaking, the busier you are, the more trash your parking lot will accumulate, as either through carelessness or outright disrespect, customers will leave receipts, napkins, cans, cigarette butts, and all manner of detritus lying about in your lot. This unfortunate reality seems to hold true across industry lines, meaning no matter what kind of service you provide, you will likely have trash in your parking lot at some point. Sending an employee out to pick up trash once a week at minimum is a good way to combat the accumulation of garbage at your doorstep. Should you not have a janitorial employee who can do it on a regular basis, consider instituting a shift system where employees rotate off of their regular duties and pick up garbage for a half hour. While being nobody’s favorite task, this general maintenance task is essential to keeping your business looking clean and professional.
Renovate, Renovate, Renovate
If your lawn is looking old and tired, or your garden is looking like it might keel over and explode into dust any moment, you may want to consider replanting and re-seeding these spaces. Things like a vibrant front lawn and a beautiful garden also provide a nonverbal cue to the customer, demonstrating in a subtle way that you are capable of taking care of their business, as it takes both patience and effort to grow and maintain a beautiful garden. If more extensive work is needed and you need to lay sod or haul multiple bags of fertilizer, you can rent assets such as work trucks to help you do a bit of DIY landscaping. You can also hire a landscaping company to do the work for you, should you find you lack the staffing or the required time to do it yourself.
Stating the “Obvious”
While these may seem like unnecessary chores, do not underestimate the importance of proper façade maintenance on cultivating positive first impressions among consumers. When a customer drives up to your building and sees your headquarters, the little things become magnified, part of a bigger picture of you and the services you offer. Paying attention to these little things, however arduous or disgusting, will serve your company well in the long run.