If you have ever visited my home state of New Jersey there is a chance that the visit left you with one of two impressions. You may believe it lives up to its dubious name, “the armpit of America” or, alternatively, you may have concluded that good ‘ol NJ is quite a beautiful state. How is it possible to have such a dichotomy? The answer, in short, is that there are two ways to enter the state: by car or by plane.
You see… if you are coming into New Jersey by plane, you will land at New Jersey’s international airport located in Newark. The general area is very “armpit-ish.” Major highways criss-cross the area and trash is piled up on the sides of the road. Within miles of the airport are smoke billowing plants, stench producing factories, deserted buildings and rundown warehouses. The roads are over used and under maintained resulting in a high likelihood of a concussion hitting one of the many potholes on Interstate 78 in Newark.
On the other hand, when you drive into the Garden State, it’s a different story. You are surrounded by beauty and history. Driving up from the south you pass right by small seaside towns like Cape May and Stone Harbor. Coming from parts of New York City, you see the breathtaking skylines, amazing bridges and buildings. Roads coming in from the north or west wind through rolling hills dotted with sprawling farms,and historic homes.
Here is the interesting part: The vast majority of NJ is gorgeous, historic and full of life. But the vast majority of people that come into the state enter via the airport. The armpit part. Since the masses come into NJ at the armpit, the label stays and rightfully so.
Businesses have the exact same exposure. Even though 95% of your business operation may be phenomenal, if the points of entry are gross, the overall impression will be very poor. Consider these common “points of entry” for new customers to your business. If you rank high on these, good for you, keep it going. If these are armpit like, it is time for significant improvements… NOW!
Your Phone System
People still pick up the phone and expect to talk to another person. A professional, helpful receptionist answering the phone each and every time is the best option. But if you don’t have that, you must at least have an automated attendant that is EASY to navigate, and EASY to get live help. If the caller can’t get a live, helpful person within 15 seconds of calling in, you need to improve. P.S. If you are considering a new phone system, I recommend my corporate partner Nextiva. It’s a great reliable modern system, and it delivers that professional touch!
How would you like to visit a store that had workmen all over the place, dust every way, and most of it was incomplete? You would probably leave and go to another place that was clean, safe and had everything you needed. The same is true for websites that are “under construction” or littered with dead links. The old school approach of getting on line quickly doesn’t work anymore. You must have a clean, complete, professional site. No less, no more. You don’t need to have gobs of stuff and lots of pages. If you are starting up, it is far more important to have a single landing page that is clean, professional and complete, than to have tons of pages that are incomplete.
When a prospect emails your firm, get the inquiry in the process quickly and consistently. This is where well prepared form email responses and other form processes will come into play. Ensure your email is current, and that it doesn’t reference outdated materials or actions.
It happens infrequently for some and regularly for others. Regardless, when someone visits you it is important to have a clean professional space. This doesn’t mean you have to have new furniture and great equipment. It simply means you need to dust every so often and stack papers neatly.
You, Yes You
The final, and probably most important, impression people will get of your business is you. They will hear how you speak , they will see how you dress, and they will discuss (behind your back) the impressions they have had of you. Be true to your business. Dress, behave, speak in a manner that is absolutely consistent with what you want the impression of your business to be.
Just like the gorgeous state of New Jersey, you are at risk of making a horrible impression if your prospect’s first impression is “armpit-ish.” It is time to clean up your act! Reconsider every “point of entry” to your business and make absolutely sure it is clean, friendly and professional. While these few points may represent only 5% of your entire business, doing them right can result in tremendous returns.