42 – Look the part. Part 2. Your office
Try to make sure the office is in an easy place to get to. Nearby parking is all-important. If you have a few parking places dedicated to your office, leave them for clients. Don’t park in the carpark yourself and then let your client do the walking. Park around the corner and get some exercise yourself.
Clean, quiet and calm. If this is your office, then the client will not be distracted. They will focus solely on you and your advice.
Let clients see some of your personal effects. A picture of a partner, or children, is usually a nice touch – provided you are not both obviously drunk or being arrested or similar. Children’s artwork usually works well, although moderation here is also a good thing. A piece of art from each child is oodles.
Use decent furniture. Make it as comfortable as you can afford. You MUST have enough chairs to go around. And make sure you wipe down tables and chairs. Coffee mug rings on meeting tables get noticed more than you might think.
If you have a waiting room, remember that this is the first thing your clients will see. Make it a nice space. Have something interesting to read. “Shooter’s Weekly” is probably not a good look – unless your clients are in fact shooters, in which case, go ahead. If your clients are all teachers, put an education magazine out. If they are all doctors, buy a few medical journals.
It makes good sense to leave reading material that relates to your service. If you have written a book or article yourself, leave it in the waiting room. If not, borrow from giants. Have a copy of Money magazine, or the Australian Financial Review, or something similar. “Cerebral” magazines like GQ or The New Yorker can reflect gravitas. Please, please, please: no New Ideas or TV Weeks. Sure, your clients may well read them: but you don’t want them to think you do.
A few pieces of nice artwork can be helpful. So can any awards or certificates of appreciation that you have received. Putting Diplomas and Degrees in the waiting room can look a bit try-hard, so be discrete.
If you have a bookshelf, in your waiting room or elsewhere, put proper books on it. Pictures in proper frames and healthy indoor pot plants can be useful as well. Try not to leave empty shelves. It reeks of impermanence: your office will look like a student’s flat.
If you can, offer a decent cup of tea or coffee. But if you are a one person show, use instant: there is nothing worse than leaving a meeting for five minutes to operate the coffee machine. An alternative can be to take your client with you to the coffee machine so you can talk while you create. Just make sure the kitchen is clean!
And this is one we have learned from personal experience: if you have an expensive coffee machine, make sure someone knows how to use it.
Be careful with toys like those coffee mugs that read “You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps!” They can be fun, but too much of this sort of thing can make the office look unprofessional.
Empty the bins regularly.
Very importantly: make sure your toilets are clean. And that there are plenty of rolls of paper available.
If you play music, make it something soothing. You may love AC/DC, but many don’t.
Have a look at these six tips for a good looking office. None of them are expensive.