"First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes."
--- Elliott Abrams
We've all heard this before: "First impressions count," or "It's never too late to make a good first impression." Businesses strive to make a good first impression, but it is not an easy task. How do you know that the third phone call you get on a Thursday morning is going to be a new customer? Of course, the solution is to make it a point to always be on point and give your very best to everyone. But what about your employees? Do they do that?
And it is not just people interaction. Do your ads give a good first impression? How about your storefront, shop, company vehicles, brochures and business cards? There is so much to consider that represents you and your business. Cloning you is not an option, but you could put your fingerprints on everything that represents the business to give a good, lasting first impression.
"There are some people who leave impressions not so lasting as the imprint of an oar upon the water."
--- Kate Chopin
Aside from working 24/7 to ensure that your business represents you, it becomes quite a challenge to get the message of you, to the masses without watering down the impression, you want to make. One great solution is to carve out some time to have a review of values meeting to examine every piece of your business to see if it still reflects your values and your reasons for the business.
"A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business."
--- Henry Ford
First impressions are typically made when you are introduced to another person or group of people. With your business, you must find ways to present your business to others.
One of the things to include on your checklist when you review your values is whether the community where you are located knows that you exist. Is your business recognized in the community for providing jobs, creating value, supporting a cause, fighting for change, etc. If not, perhaps it is time to find a charitable organization you feel strongly about and find ways to get involved. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and it is a great way to serve the community while becoming introduced to those around you.
"An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it."
--- Dee Hock
We've mentioned this in countless of these newsletters, but don't be afraid to invest the time and energy into several interviews before you hire your employees. Having the right people who know and understand, and even share, your values is vital to delivering that great first impression. You only have so much control of how your customers view your business. Putting in the right people and then trusting them to deliver your message will help to create and sustain great relationships with your customers.
"Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You'd be amazed how many companies don't listen to their customers."
--- Ross Perot
Finally, use all the tools you can to gather feedback from your customers to use as a benchmark in how your message is coming across. Do this immediately after a transaction. Too often, a business leader will decide to find out how their customers feel too long after the sale. By then, if the customer wasn't satisfied, they have moved on and you'll never know why.
The first impression that your business gives is critical to the future of your organization. Make it a priority to have your customer's say, as Dorothy Boyd said to Jerry Maguire, "You had me at 'hello'".
Targeted Storefronts for Key Customers
By Kristen Simmons
When we think of online ordering, it is a safe bet that our minds wander to one of the mega sites like Amazon.com, Inc. At any time of day or night, you can order almost anything you wish with the click of a button. As a business owner or manager, you have likely thought about offering the same ease and convenience to your customers.
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As seen in front of bait shop in Georgia (sent in by Todd Tolifson of Artsign):
"Ice cold watermelons. We have worms"
Sign in restaurant in Dallas (sent in by Lynn Bural of Qwik Signs & Color Graphics in Colleyville, TX):
"You smokey-- You go to Pokey"
A sign seen on an automatic restroom hand dryer:
"Do not activate with wet hands!"
We need those funny signs you've seen in your travels, come on, we know they're out there.
Send them to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.