They say first impressions count and nowhere is that more important to your business than the building you occupy. But first impressions are just that – impressions. To ensure your business premises accurately reflect your brand and provide the best possible experience for your staff, suppliers and clients, you need to carry any improvements you make through to the whole experience. It’s not just about jamming a fuss-ball table in and hoping for the best, it’s about truly understanding how your employees work best, how your suppliers need to interact with and access your premises, and of course, what your building is saying about you to prospective clients and customers. In this blog I’ve outlined some of what’s possible when it comes to improving your premises, alongside what I believe to be actually valuable. They are all soft changes that each has a cost but put together, they will have a major impact on so many aspects of your business.
- Keep it clean: It may sound basic and obvious but there’s no doubt that a clean and well-organised premises makes a good impression on prospects, existing customers, employees and staff, but it can represent a lot of work to keep on top of! Make sure to keep your premises clean and tidy on a regular basis by employing a good cleaning contractor or someone in-house to keep everything in good order – including your outside space. When it comes to first impressions, a clean, crisp image should not be underestimated!
- Make it welcoming: What kind of experience do you want to create for your customers? Whilst security is always important, the entrance to your building should be welcoming and inviting. You could add some plants, flowers, or other decorations to make the space more inviting. I once visited a client’s head office and although an electric latch let me in, there was no one to greet me and I sat in reception for 20 minutes before I saw another human! Apparently, they didn’t bother with their building entrance as they were too embarrassed to welcome people to building. I was able to change all that. Ask yourself: how will visitors be greeted on entrance to your building and what kind of impression do you want to make?
- Lay on some extras: Offering refreshments to clients, suppliers or interviewees is a great way to show them that you appreciate their time and their visit. This could include coffee, tea, water, or snacks – or you could get more creative with branded items like pens or notebooks.
- Lighting: Good lighting can make your premises look more inviting and bright, alongside boosting the productivity of your workforce. Consider using natural light whenever possible, and install bright and energy-efficient lights in areas that don’t receive much natural light. I once visited a firm of accountants in Southampton only to discover they occupied a building with no windows. No, really! I really felt for their staff – they must have felt like moles!
- Comfort: Make sure your premises are comfortable for everyone who uses them. This means providing comfortable seating, adequate ventilation, and a temperature that is comfortable for everyone (not easy, I know). Also don’t forget to consider the layout and general standard of your toilets! Do your toilet cubicle doors go floor to ceiling or have gaps? Will you offer paper towels, an air dryer or both? Don’t forget a well-placed (and well-maintained!) extractor fan can make a big difference!
- Layout and furniture: Developers tend to build to a generic template and create a blank canvas for you to customise as you wish (within the confines of your lease terms!). To make the best use of your space, ask yourself how your staff work together? What spaces will they need, e.g. pods, webinar rooms, breakout rooms or larger meeting rooms? You may need the creativity of a fit-out contractor. The furniture in your business should be comfortable and practical as well as attractive, and it should also reflect your brand. Invest in furniture of a good quality, where possible, to avoid having to replace it too quickly.
- Slick signage: Make sure your signage is clear and easy to read – and uses your branding. This will not only help customers find their way around your premises, but also ensure a consistent experience for suppliers and new staff members.
- Security: Make sure your premises is secure and you have sufficient and appropriate security cameras, locks, and alarms. Although these can seem like hefty investments, you only need to weigh them up against potential losses and disruption to your business – through something like a burglary – and they quickly become a no-brainer.
- Accessibility: Make sure your premises is accessible to people with disabilities. This means providing ramps, wide doorways, and accessible toilets where necessary, with appropriate signage and colour contrasting. Also, ensure you have a disabilities policy and provide adequate staff training.
- The personal touch: Adding personal touches to your premises can make it feel more unique and welcoming. This could include things like artwork, plants, or photos. Think about your staff – what do they need, to feel inspired and motivated? Leaning on your logo and brand elements – for example using your brand colours – is a great way to create a cohesive and visually appealing space. You can use them in your signage, furniture, and even the walls of your business.
- Feedback: Don’t forget to ask your customers and employees for feedback on what they think of any changes you make and how you can further improve your premises. Even better, involve them in the process from the outset and take a consultative approach. This will help you to identify areas where you can make improvements and spend your cash in the right places.
As always, when implementing any changes in your business premises, the overarching question is ‘what does the business need?’ Consider the needs of everyone who interacts with your premises and what will ensure a positive benefit to your business, then ensure you get your landlord’s consent to the necessary changes and reinstatement at the end of the lease That way you can’t go too far wrong!
If you are inspired to make some changes but don’t have the connections to providers and advisers in the various points mentioned, I have spent twenty-five years building a network of trades and professions I can put you in touch with. Get in touch and I’ll be happy to help.