Dear Owner/Manager/Professional/Boss,

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     Every business has some kind of space designated as a waiting area for customers, clients, patients, associates, suppliers, sales reps, delivery people, visitors.  My best guess is that YOU (the owner/ operator/manager/professional practitioner . . . the boss!) haven’t sat in that space for more than a half an hour for a very long time, if ever!

     Yet, the waiting area is your most important first-impression, “silent salesman” customer service space you have, and odds are that it is undermining many of the positive values you are trying to convey and represent.  Even those spaces that are comfortably furnished and decorated can be screamingly UNcomfortable!

     Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because a waiting area space looks nice, that it is.  Be sure!  Go there in the middle of a typical workday, and sit there for 45 minutes.  Take some deep breaths.  Pretend you’ve never been there before.  Take a notebook and jot down what you see and hear and taste and touch and smell.  

  •      Are coffee or other beverages available?  Are they fresh?  The right temperature?  Accompanied by the right supplies and maintained regularly?  Is there a wastebasket or garbage pail there?  Is it plastic bag-lined?  Is it overflowing?  Would you help yourself if you walked in for the first time?
  •      Are there bugs, dirt or rust in the overhead light fixtures?  Are the bugs moving?  (HA! Just thought I’d see if you’re awake).  Are ceiling tiles cracked or water-marked?  Are there dead or dying or yellow-leafed plants evident?  Consider what these shortcomings communicate to outside visitors about your business!
  •      Is there a TV there?  Does it work okay?  Is it tuned to a non-controversial, non-network, non-news station and maintained there (Weather, Science, History Channels, for example)?  Is the volume of the TV or music appropriate?  Is the floor or carpet stained?  Furniture? 

There are no second first impressions!

     I sat in a waiting room today that measured 16x16ft, with 8ft. high ceilings.  It had a doorway, two large windows, and a corner shelf unit that extended 5ft along each wall it hugged and rose from the floor to within two feet from the ceiling.  Not a lot of wall space, right?  Right.  But guess what? 

     What wall space that did exist –in between a coffee set-up and cabinet, a water cooler and five (5!) floor-stand candy dispensors– held– are you ready for this? — 19 posters and 35 (really!) plaques! 

     And most of that was hard to even notice because the TV was blasting away with warped nonstop network news.  And stupid me thought it would be an opportunity to steal a half hour of stressfree reading and writing time. 

     No, I won’t be headed back there anytime soon.  In fact for the same prices, the competitor down the road apiece offers a clean, quiet, comfortable lounge space for customers. 

     Why should I want to be sufficated by awards and candy machines, overhead lighting that blinked and a blaring TV spewing out continuous doom and gloom updates in between commercials for drugs to ask your doctor about that work wonders for you but have death as a possible side effect?  Duh. 

So, you know what?  You owe it to yourself and your business or professional practice to take a good hard look and listen to your waiting area, and give it a regular checkup.  Magazines do get torn and tattered, rugs do get spilled on , light bulbs do go bad, bugs do crawl around . . . and sales do get lost!          halalpiar  


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