You can’t build a successful business all on your own, even if you wanted to. A company’s success depends on its ability to network and collaborate with other people! As such, from time to time you’ll need to open up your doors and invite people into your office space, for meetings, presentations, and to get to know the people you have partnerships with better. It’s important to remember, however, that much can be inferred from your office — whether you like it or not, your visitors are going to understand just as much about your company from what they experience as what you say. Because it’s so important, you’ll need to ensure that you’re doing all the right things that’ll have them walking away with a positive overall impression of your business. So how do you do this? We take a look at a few useful ways below.
If you’re going to disappoint your visitors, at least make it worthwhile. Don’t make it because of a dumb reason that has little to do with who you are or what your company does! If, for example, your visitor is growing increasingly annoyed because they simply can’t find your office, then you’ll have gotten off on the wrong foot — and they haven’t even stepped through the door. Your office location is obvious to you, but it might not be obvious to other people, especially if there are a lot of other companies located in your immediate surroundings. Make sure there’s a sign that’ll tell show them the way, and you can also include more specific instructions in an email if it’s a bit awkward to find.
When we say ‘free parking,’ we mean both in terms of ‘available parking,’ and ‘without charge.’ It’s not the biggest thing in the world, and in all likelihood, your visitor might not even notice if you don’t, but it’s a nice gesture. If you have your own car park, then allocate a spot close to the entrance for guests. There’s nothing worse than driving around and around trying to find somewhere to park, or having to walk much further than you’d like just to reach the office. Make things easy for them.
Out of Town Visitors
Of course, if your visitors are coming from out of town, then it’s important that you go the extra mile. They’re new in town, they don’t know the area, they probably don’t have a car, and even if they do, they don’t know these streets — getting to your office will just add a layer of confusion to their trip that they could do without. For those guests, look at providing transportation for them. If they’re staying at a hotel, you can have a car pick them up and bring them to your office, for example. They’ve already traveled some distance to see you — don’t make them figure out how to find your office.
You most likely already know the importance of your company branding, especially when it comes to things like your promotional materials, marketing, packaging, and so on. But it also applies to your office, too. This is your company’s headquarters — if this area isn’t in line with what you’re trying to promote, then it’s likely that your visitors are going to be underwhelmed by what they see. Imagine a company that presents itself as modern, cool – all those trendy things – yet has a traditional, dull, grey office. It would be at odds with what they’re saying they are — in their visitor’s eyes, they’d look like frauds.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that raise the eyebrows. Maintaining a clean and tidy office space is simple to do, so simple! Yet if you overlook this aspect of running an office, then you’ll be inviting your visitor to have a lower opinion of your operations. And they’d be somewhat justified in this assessment — if you can’t take care of the most basic things in life, how can you be trusted to manage more significant projects? You should already have a cleaner keeping your office space neat and tidy (a clean office has many benefits that extend beyond impressing visitors); make sure they’re working the night before the meeting, so the space is looking as clean as can be.
The Reception Area
It’s likely that the most important aspect of your office is your reception area! This is the first direct interaction your visitor is going to have with your business. It’s going to set the tone. You’ll want to ensure that the space and your receptionist is welcoming and professional. Have seating, newspapers, and coffee and other refreshments available, so that they’re not just sitting there waiting for you to arrive. They won’t mind how much time you take – within reason – if they’ve got everything they need to pass some time in peace right in front of them.
Having said that, don’t take providing coffee and donuts as an invitation to take your sweet time when it comes to heading down to reception to meet them. If your meeting is due to start at 11, then be there at 11. They’ll have arrived early anyway, so they’ll have been sitting there for a little bit of time anyway. Time is money, as they say, so don’t waste their time; this is less about impressing your visitors, and more about not making them think “well, this is rude.”
Employees On Point
You may be the one who’s dealing with your visitor directly, but you’re not going to be the only person in the office. Your employees are going to have an impact on what your visitor thinks about your company, even if their influence is more indirect. They’re going to contribute to the overall atmosphere — if it’s wild and chaotic, or unprofessional, then that’s going to reflect negatively on your company. If, on the other hand, it’s professional, open, obviously creative and forward thinking, then your visitor will know that all components of the business are on point.
Good organization is key to business success! And especially so when it comes to meetings. You need to show your visitor that you are prepared and ready for the meeting, and that means having everything arranged beforehand, including any materials or documents you might need, projector setups, and so on. It can be a bit awkward watching someone searching for that ‘important document’ while the visitor just sits there — and it’s certainly not impressive.
Places to Talk
After you’ve given your visitor a tour of your office space, you’ll want to sit down in a quiet room that’s specifically designed to host meetings and presentations. There, you should be able to talk without interruption — the whole point of the visit is to have a meeting, so it’s important to ensure there are no knocks on the door or outside noise disturbing the conversation. If there’s normally a lot of distracting noise, then look at having a state-of-the-art sound proofing solution installed in your meeting room. It’ll show your visitor that you care about creating a space where connections can be made without interruptions. Another thing to think about is how large the room is; is it able to comfortably accommodate all the people who need to be in the meeting? If not, it’ll be best to find an alternative meeting room.
Snacks and Drinks
You will have made snacks and drinks available while your visitor was in your waiting room, but what if they didn’t choose to have any at that time? Even if they did, if it’s a long enough visit, they might need more anyway. Offer your visitors coffee, and also have pastries available. There’s not much worse than trying to talk business on an empty stomach — don’t make something as easily solved as thirst or hunger be the thing that halts progress.
Personal Chit Chat
A business meeting shouldn’t be all work, work, work — there’s a time and space for more casual conversation, too. Now, it’s not recommended that you dive into a conversation that’s too personal, that’s a big no-no. But asking about their travels, about their family, and so on? That should be on the table. In the process, you’ll be fostering a deeper relationship, too, one that stretches beyond simply what you can do for one another in a business sense.
Don’t Overdo It
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re hosting visitors, especially if you’re trying to impress them, and especially if you can see it’s going well. But like with most things in life, it’s possible that you can take things too far, which will end up having a negative impact. For starters, keeping your visitor longer than planned shows a lack of respect for their time and schedule — they might not feel comfortable saying so, but they need to go. Keep things fluid and to the point, and when it feels like all that needs to be said has been said, begin the wrap-up process.