At the foundation of growing any business lays one fundamental concept: You need to keep what you have. It’s a simple concept. You can bring new clients through the front doors all day long, but if you are losing them out the back, your business will remain stagnant. So what does it take to keep people coming back?
There’s a lot to be said on the subject. The spectrum spans from creating powerful first impressions to providing world class service after the sale. All aspects that fall within that range are important to generating return business. That being said, we are going to focus on the first impression of your business. How do clients feel as they walk into their first experience with your business? It’s important to note that there is a first impression people make for your business itself that is separate from the impression clients’ form of you personally.
The reason for focusing on the first impression of your business is that it can make or break you from the start. If a potential client feels uncomfortable before ever talking to you or your staff, chances are they may walk out and never return. It’s a reality we have to face and fortify against. However if we can create an atmosphere in which people feel comfortable and relaxed and combine that with a great personal first impression, we significantly increase our chances of a return customer. Once a client returns for the second time, your chances of retaining them for the long term grow exponentially.
How do we create this powerful first impression of our business that will keep people coming back? You need to realize the first impression of your business starts with the way clients feel from the moment they reach the area your business is located. If you’re located in a nice area that is easily found, you have already taken the first step in forming a good first impression for your business. If your business is located in a run down area, or in a neighborhood people don’t like to go to, they have already started forming a negative first impression. It’s possible they might drive right by.
Location aside, it’s important to make sure your business signs are easily seen from the street. You don’t want to lose a potential client because they couldn’t find you. Make finding you as easy as possible. Then once they have found you make sure there is adequate close up parking. If you are in a business complex you will want to consider getting signs designating several up front parking spaces reserved for your clients. It’s a little thing that people appreciate.
The outside of your business should be clean and well kept. I know some that take it as far as sweeping the sidewalks every morning. Then, once a potential client steps in the door, the real magic begins. From here we want to appeal to all five senses to create an atmosphere that welcomes new clients and puts them at ease.
Let’s start with sight. We have Death of cookies started to create a good first impression by making sure our entrance is clean and well kept. That is only enforced once a potential client walks in. Things in the lobby or entry should be well organized. Avoid clutter and messy spaces. Placement and positioning of furniture and decorations need to be well thought out as to suggest a path. The colors of your walls, floors, and décor are very important. Each color portrays a different feeling and emotion. Choose colors that portray the feelings you are trying to achieve in your business. A great resource to help you pick colors that fit your style of business can be found at
If you or your staff still don’t feel up to this task, an interior designer can help. Also pay attention to the materials used in your space. Natural materials give a “grounded” feeling where highly synthetic materials can be viewed as cheap.
Sound plays an important roll in the first impression of your business. Many people are alert to ambient sounds such as traffic outside or an air conditioning unit on the roof. Studies have shown that when people are distracted by such noises they subconsciously perceive the people around them as thoughtless. If you find there are distracting noises in your building you can find ways to cover them up. Trickling water does a great job of covering up unwanted noise while simultaneously creating a peaceful atmosphere. Light classical music has a similar effect. Avoid silence where possible. Complete silence can lead to feelings of apprehension or boredom. In the area where people are waiting, make sure that there is sound that is relaxing but not distracting. Soft sounds are best.
Smell is thankfully a simple and effective way to boost the power of your businesses first impression. Covering this step is as easy as getting a scented candle or a plug in air freshener. A word of warning though: overbearing scents can be just as bad as an awful stench. Make sure the air has a noticeable but subtle scent. Another piece of information you may find useful is that the scent most commonly associated with trust, respect and honesty is vanilla. For more information you can visit
Touch is not the first sense that comes to mind when thinking of how to create a lasting first impression for your business; however, it can be very effective if done right. It is interesting to note that when a potential client walks in the front door they are immediately comforted and feel more secure if the footing beneath them is soft. It’s a psychological soft landing as they venture into a new office or store. Another very important area to pay special attention to the sense of touch is in the lobby or waiting area. Make sure chairs are properly upholstered and cushioned. It’s no secret that a soft well cushioned chair is much more desirable than a stiff chair. Though clients will never comment on these two suggestions they do help take your first impression a step further.
Taste is a sense that many professionals appeal to without knowing they are doing so. You will notice that many of the offices you visit have a candy bowl or fresh mints at the front desk. Simple? Yes. Effective? Most definitely. You don’t have to stop there though. Offering a fresh drink is a great way to show potential clients that you really care.
As I have visited offices and practices around the country I have seen several great ideas that go a long way to create a powerful first impression of a business. If your business works by appointment a great way to show clients you care and are happy to see them, is to create a welcome sign that welcomes them by name. You can create the sign on a computer and print it out, or save the file and load it into a digital picture frame. Have it ready and visible at the time they are scheduled to come in and watch the smiles it generates.
Another office I am aware of has fresh cookies delivered twice a day from a local bakery. When you walk into the office you are immediately met by the aroma of fresh baked cookies. You can’t help but feel nostalgic as a childhood excitement comes over you.
A wall fountain is another powerful tool in creating a lasting first impression. Wall fountains are typically made of all natural materials such as slate and copper, adding a natural beauty to your entrance. You can get them engraved with a company name or logo which will draw a little more attention than a boring traditional sign. Also, the water trickling over the stone provides a soothing ambiance of sound making potential clients feel comfortable. Click the following link to view a variety of wall mounted fountains to use in your office.