Ensuring your small business gives a great first impression every time

A firm handshake is part of a good first impression.

By Henry Brown

With any business, be it customer-facing or client-based, it is imperative to create a good first impression to ensure the longevity and good reputation that a successful business needs. Many people like to quote that it takes as little as seven seconds to make a first impression. However, new scientific studies seem to indicate that it can take less than a second for someone to form their first impression. Don’t panic though, you don’t need to completely scrap all but the first second of your client meetings or customer interactions, but you do need to make sure that all first interactions with your business are setting the right standard. Below are a few ways that you can help to create the right kind of first impression for your business.

Appearance

Appearances matter, especially in business. You should make sure that both you and your staff are always presentable and professional. Clean and polished shoes, uniform or workwear in a good state of repair and ironed. Hair should be neat and nails clean. Piercings, jewelry, and makeup should be minimal for all employees too. You have to look like someone who can be trusted and will do a good job. Would you want to do business with someone who turned up with scuffed shoes, scruffy and wrinkled clothes, and generally unkempt appearance? It may sound superficial, but as humans, we instinctively trust people who can present themselves well, so make sure that is you and every member of your staff.

Environment

Personal appearances matter, but so does the appearance of your workplace. Ensure it is clean and tidy at the very least. But you can also create a nice ambience by using tunable LEDs or adding some artwork to the walls too. Try and be ‘house proud’ of your company’s offices or place of work. Make it somewhere that people want to be. It should be inviting, comforting, and exude professionalism.

Manners

Manners cost nothing, but they could gain you everything. If you have a client meeting, shake their hand, smile, ask them about their journey, and offer them a drink. It may not seem like much, but these simple actions can help to put someone at ease and open up the floor for a relaxed chat before you get down to business. Good manners will also make your customers feel more at home and make them more receptive to your recommendations. Bad manners will put people on their guard and have them running for the door before you’ve even got more than a few words out.

Personality

You may like to think that it’s effectiveness, not personality, which helps businesses get ahead in a competitive market. But ask yourself one question: When did you last do a favor for or go out of your way to help someone you didn’t like? Probably never. You have to try to be likeable in order to get customers and clients to invest their time and money with you. If you are particularly good at this, you will get people going out of their way to find you because they prefer your service so much more. You have to do so much more than simply deliver a product or service; you have to build a relationship. The only way you can do this is by connecting with your customers and clients. This may take time, but if you put the work in early on you could be reaping the benefits for years to come.

Beyond the call of duty

It can be easy to just fulfill your contractual obligations and leave it there. However, by going the extra mile for your customers and clients on a regular basis, you separate yourself from the herd in a very real way. Have your paperwork or project outlines completed ahead of the deadline for your clients. Come to meetings with more research and information than they thought you would have at this stage. Don’t just answer your customers’ queries, find out why they were asking the question and make suitable recommendations for them. You may be able to upsell by simply making sure you understand the customers’ wants and needs. With every customer and client interaction, ask yourself what you could do to make this experience memorable.

Hopefully, these tips have helped you to analyze your business and come up with ways to make sure that you are giving a positive first impression every single time. It may seem like a lot of extra effort, but it will be worth it when the business keeps coming in.

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Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

 

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