We have all heard the old adage, “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is true; not only in the way we present ourselves, but also in the way we present our companies.
The Face of Your Company: When is the last time you took a look at what a potential client sees first from your AV integration company? If you have a showroom, when is the last time you walked in the front door or parked in the front space? Try it. Take a step back and see what a client would see for the first time. Is the parking lot/space clean? Do you keep your building in good shape?
Once you walk across the threshold, what is the first impression of your store or showroom? Are you greeted by anyone when you walk in? Is someone there to offer a smile and a friendly hello? Is your lobby inviting and happy, or dark and dinghy?
The Voice of Your Company: Maybe you don’t have a showroom. Maybe the first time a potential client meets you is over the phone. How are they greeted? Is your voice friendly? This past year we hired what I refer to as our “retail goddess” (it even says that on her business cards). She came to us with no prior experience, but she is very likable (the rest can be taught). She is the front line of the company—a friendly face that greets you when you walk in the door and a friendly voice over the phone. I know that when someone calls the company, they will be greeted well. It also sets us up as a more professional establishment. Think about it—no great lawyer, doctor, or even high-end plumber or electrician is answering his or her own phone.
The Look of Your Company: Not all my clients have walked through the doors. Sometimes I will go out to a home to quote a job, and the client will purchase the system without ever walking into my store. What is their first impression?
Maybe they went to our website. We just redesigned the site for this exact reason. We asked ourselves, “What message do we want to be sending?” Then we designed the site around that. Our site now looks more professional, and I’m more confident that this will give potential clients the right “feel” to take the next step.
We do not allow employees to wear jeans in our showroom. As a matter of fact we don’t even allow our installers to wear jeans. This is a personal decision. We think jeans don’t convey the right message for us. (I know this could create a heated debate. You’ll have to decide what is best for the image of your own company). Our installers wear khaki pants and company-supplied embroidered shirts with our name and logo. We have the same rules for sales staff. You would know just by looking at us that we “go” together.
This year at our holiday party, we gave all of our employees embroidered jackets. (I realized that during the winter months here in Buffalo, installers would sometimes go out to a gig and never take off their jacket. By providing clean, crisp-looking jackets with the company name on them, I know they are always leaving a positive impression). I’m sure a wife who is home alone, about to let two strangers through her door, feels better when they show up looking professional.
How do your installers (or you, if you’re the installer) arrive to a client’s home? Is your van/truck clean? Does it have your name and logo? Is it covered in rust? This again may be the first time the client “sees” your company. Make a good impression. Remember that they have neighbors who may be looking out the window. Want them to call too? Looking good doesn’t hurt! (There is a street in a local development where we have 85-percent of everyone on that street as a client.)
The Social Impression: How is your company represented on Facebook or Twitter? Are you known as an expert in the area? Do you give out helpful tidbits of information? How about in the local community? Do you sponsor any events?
Once a year we sponsor a Movie in the Park. It’s a pain, but it is wonderful. We work with a local community group, and they take care of the advertising and obtaining the movie rights. We set up a big inflatable screen with a killer audio system in a local park under the stars. Vendors set up and sell popcorn and ice cream. At the beginning of the event, I get to welcome the community and thank them for their support. It is priceless. We are the good guys; we are making a positive impression.
None of this means a thing if you’re not doing great AV integration work, too. This is just an avenue to get you that work. Once you’re in, your talent can speak for itself. What did I miss? What does your company do to ensure the first impression is everlasting?