Why your office could be winning or losing you business

It takes just seven seconds to make a first impression, or so research suggests.

When it comes to that critical first meeting with a customer or client on your premises, you may know that they’re making up their mind about you as an individual very quickly, but are you giving the same thought to your surroundings?

If you’re hosting a meeting or want to attract the best candidates to work for you, then the impression that your environment creates when people first meet you, probably matters just as much as being professional, friendly and suitably dressed.

Creating a good, or even better, a ‘wow’ factor could be the difference between someone choosing your business over another. If you had a choice of equally suitable suppliers or employers, would you prefer to spend your time somewhere clean, comfortable and welcoming, or in an old, scruffy, seen-better-days office?

As Banner launches its Tidy Office campaign, here are our tips for ensuring your office – and the furniture in it – attracts rather than repels:

Work on your welcome

That first welcome stretches from your kerb appeal through to reception area. Whether your business inhabits modern offices, a Victorian mansion or an on street terrace, making sure the immediate exterior is clean, clear of obstructions and free of litter applies. Does the front door need a lick of paint and is any signage easy to spot and follow?

We recommend that any smokers’ areas are far away from visitors’ approach routes to your premises, ideally at the back or side of the building where any smells or cigarette butts will be away from doors and windows and out of sight.

When you first arrive in reception, being greeted properly, made to feel welcome and helped is essential, but so is the state of the fixtures and fittings. This tells us a lot about the owners’ pride in the business, how successful the company is and how much importance it places on guests. Everything should be bright and clean and that extends from the floor and chairs through to the reception desk and coffee table.

Needless to say furniture should be regularly tested to make sure it’s not broken or worn and if it is, it should be removed and replaced. Chairs should be comfortable and accessible, with up-to-date reading material within reach.

A coffee machine can be a great investment, especially if people are early or need to wait for more than a couple of minutes. Ensure the reception team offer drinks to guests or invites them to help themselves if appropriate.

Walking route

Review the areas that guests travel through when they walk from the reception area to meeting room. Are these clean, clear of boxes and other obstructions? If it is possible for visitors to see into other rooms then these need to be tidy and their occupants aware that visitors can see and hear them. If there are notice boards en-route then be aware guests may glance at the contents, so if these are for internal rather than external consumption, consider moving them elsewhere.

Think about the overall ambience of these walking routes. Do they smell fresh, are they well lit and do they create a reasonable feel good factor? If not, then think about investing in automatic air fresheners, putting pictures on the walls or fitting new flooring – whatever will help to lift and lighten the mood.

Meeting room

Investing in a good meeting room table and chairs could be one of the best investments your business makes. One thing that won’t help when you have put hours or days of work into preparing for an important meeting, is for the meeting room furniture to wobble or break, or to see the client notice cup stains on the table. Attractive meeting room furniture tells people that you care about the business and expect to be holding lots of successful meetings now and in the future. Lacklustre furniture, on the other hand, can signal at best complacency and at worst, a declining business unable to invest.

At the very least, keeping your current furniture stock clean, polished and in good condition is essential. It may be just one part of the equation in winning friends and influencing people in business, but it is a critical one.

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