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READER TIPS

How to let clients know you take their work seriously, without saying a word

As the saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” What’s the first impression your clients get when they walk into your office? Does it instill confidence that they made the right choice in hiring your firm?

Clients lose faith in an office when they see clutter and dusty plastic plants and dirt in the corners. A likely reaction is, “This office doesn’t care about paying attention to details.”

People are judged by their appearance, says a Florida administrator, and so are professional offices. And that’s why her goal is to deliver an appearance that gives clients “100% proof that we take what we do very seriously.”

The office has a staff of 12, and although a cleaning service comes in every night, staff members are responsible for keeping it clean during the day, particularly the front desk, reception room, and other client areas.

At the front desk, clients see a clear area when they check in. Everything is kept in cupboards and there is an office policy that nobody can set anything on the counter behind the receptionist’s desk. The staffer keeps her working papers “directly in front of her.”

The manager has also made the front desk “very calm” by locating the telephones in a separate room. With the orderliness and lack of commotion, she says, “clients feel they are important.”

During each lunch break, one staffer picks up any items left behind in the reception area, such as coffee mugs or newspapers, and straightens the magazines. It’s part of her job description.

The carpets get cleaned routinely every six months.

More still, the manager does a walk-through of the reception area at least three times a week to see if there are stains on the furniture or if repairs are needed. As with many offices, she says, most employees come in through a back door and never look at the reception room. Without her regular inspections, it’s unlikely anyone—other than the clients—would notice that something was amiss.

Office appearance is discussed at every staff meeting, the manager says. “I tell staff to walk into the office as if they are going to sign in as a visitor and tell me what they see.”

The continued emphasis gives employees pride in the office, she says, and the reward is the fact that visitors even remark on the cleanliness— “at least two or three times a day.”


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