For years you’ve reserved the parking space close to the back door, walked past the time clock and directly into your office. It’s a tried and true, nearly universal routine. And why not? It’s the shortest distance to the coffee machine and your over-flowing in-basket. But not everyone in this business subscribes to the theory that the fewer steps to the office, the better. If fact, there are ample reasons to avoid the loading dock and map out an alternative route.
While entering the property through the back door may be expedient, it’s a practice that prevents us from appreciating what our guests’ experience when they approach the front of our establishment.
Your business only has one chance to make a good first impression. If your curb appeal is found wanting, the unmistakable second impression is that the experience as a whole will also be wanting.
What are your guests’ first impressions of your business? Is the exterior in good shape or is it beginning to show its age? Is the landscaping an asset or disadvantage? Is the sign in need of repair? Is the parking lot being maintained in good condition? Does the security lighting provide ample coverage?
Is the front entrance clean and presentable? Is there a sign clearly stating the name of the business and your hours of operation? Upon entering, do you notice any offending odors? Is the foyer a pleasant, inviting space? Does the hostess stand appear to be well located?
Here then is our top ten list of why to enter your business through the front door.
1. Check Out the Front Parking Lot — Is there sufficient lighting for your customers to feel secure? Is the lot clean and in good condition? Is there room ample parking? Poor parking is a turn-off and can cost you business.
2. Assess Your Curb Appeal — What does your establishment look like from the street? Does it look like someplace you’d want to frequent? Does your business have a contemporary look, or is the outside of your business look dated, and in need of a face-lift? Is the exterior of your building showing signs of disrepair?
3. Inspect Exterior Signs — Are your signs effective and portray your business in the best possible light? Are they in good working order? A broken exterior sign reflects poorly on the business inside.
4. Check the Condition of Front Entry — Is the front entry — walkway, front doors, vestibule and lobby — in good condition? Or is it showing signs of wear and tear? Does your front entry give a good first impression of your business?
5. Appearance of Host/Hostess — Do your host or hostess give a good first impression? Do they smile and make people feel welcome?
6. Effective Marketing — Have you posted a current menu by the front entry? Do you have a board listing your daily specials somewhere in the lobby? Many operators begin to market their wares right as people enter their establishment.
7. Sweet Smell of Success — As you walk in from the outside, take a sniff. Does your establishment have an off-odor? Enclosed areas usually do, and your business is probably no exception. Is the odor off-putting to customers?
8. Eye Appeal — What level is your lighting set at in the walkway and front entry? Is it too dim, creating a safety hazard? Is it too bright, blinding people as they enter from the dark? Does your lighting create the atmosphere you’re looking for?
9. Sound Check — Is your sound system set at a decibel level that deafens people when they enter your establishment? Or is it set so low as to be barely audible? Does the sound level in your establishment help generate excitement or is it merely audible filler?
10. Press the Flesh — Walking in the front door allows you an opportunity to be seen by your clientele and staff. Shake some hands. Pat some backs. Let yourself be seen.