First impressions are important to every organization. During a recent business trip, I was looking for a new dining experience. I like to use the mobile restaurant app on my cell phone and find local restaurants that don’t belong to a chain. I enjoy trying regional food and broadening my horizons when I am traveling. Most of the time, I leave the restaurant feeling satisfied from the food and the overall dining experience.

I have had lunches and dinners in all sorts of locations. There was the time in Pennsylvania that I had a hamburger in a shack. This place featured a 25-pound burger for three that you could get for free if consumed within an hour, dressings, and all. I passed on that opportunity. I have dined in converted churches and repurposed factories, and I have been to bar-b-que joints where the food is delivered out of an 8×10 shed.

All of these experiences were unique and interesting. The one thing I have found, though, is that my dining experience is usually influenced by the first impression I have when I walk into the restaurant.

Restaurants do not need white linens and fancy tableware to leave a good first impression. The thing I look for when dining is the cleanliness of the place when I walk in. I pay attention to the lighting and check to see if there is clutter sitting around. I will also notice the friendliness of the staff when I arrive. Did they make me feel like they were happy to see me? Or was I made to feel like just another task they had to complete to get through the day? And I understand that there will always be a time when tables haven’t been cleaned. However, if the restaurant is not overcrowded and I see dirty dishes all around, it will leave a bad impression. The food might end up being fantastic, but there is a good chance I will not go back due to my initial reaction and what I experienced.

When a customer walks into your location what are they seeing? What kind of impression are you making on them? Do you really know what they experience when they walk in the door?

Even if you have a spotless showroom, these are some questions you still want answered to ensure a great first impression. If you are interested in seeing if you are providing a great customer experience, I would recommend asking some acquaintances to help conduct a formal or informal survey of your location.

  • Ask them to walk into your facility, as if they were looking for something specific, a lift kit, or light kit for example, and have them rate their overall experience. It is important to let them know that you are looking for honest feedback so that you can make improvements where necessary. A few items they might check for you could include the following:
  • Was the storefront neat in appearance?
  • Was the parking lot clean?
  • Did the landscaping appear neatly trimmed or overgrown?
  • Was the store clean when you walked in?
  • Where you greeted in a friendly and timely manner?

There are numerous other questions you can ask based off of your location. I would recommend having multiple people take the survey, and giving each person a self-addressed stamped envelope so that they can provide feedback with some semblance of privacy. This will prevent someone from holding back their true thoughts so as not to hurt your feelings, while also giving you more authentic results.

We all strive to do our best each and every day. However, when we are going into the same location day after day, we have a tendency to not notice things that might not be appealing to others.

Having someone with fresh eyes give you feedback on a regular basis can help ensure that the first impression your customer receives is a positive one that will help enhance their buying experience.