By Dolores Pian
Setting yourself apart from the competition means developing the personal touch to your business. So how can you use your space to sell yourself effectively?
Everyone has an office. Some use the kitchen table, some devote a spare bedroom to the task, and still others who work for an employer have their workstations or offices planned professionally. Just as you go out to a meeting wearing your best, your office should also make the best impression with clients – and, just as importantly, make an impression with you!
Is the image that greets your clients a favourable reflection of you? Most of us want to appear successful, implying that thousands of other people have trusted us with their business. Remember, you are in the business of selling trust, confidence, security and peace of mind.
How objective are you about your workspace? Ask yourself, “How do others see my space?” Try taking photos of your business location, from your clients’ point of view, through the entrances and other spaces that they may see. A picture says a thousand words and this will allow you to see your space the way others do.
First, you need to establish what your objectives are.
Second, determine the impact you want to make.
Third, establish your goals.
Ask yourself: Do I need to develop relationships quickly? Do I need to develop credibility? Do I need to establish an image?
Now that you’ve been brutally honest with yourself, it’s time to take action.
Here are 10 tips that can enhance your workspace to increased profitability:
1. Location, location, location – of your desk that is.
Furniture layouts can create barriers, some can be more embracing and inclusive, and others create power positions to control the scene. How do you want your client to feel? What do you want to accomplish?
2. Objects in your office speak volumes about who you are.
They can tell the client who you are quickly. You can project your personality and philosophy through photographs, books and knickknacks. What do you want them to know about you?
3. Showcase your accomplishments; clients are impressed by that.
Get noticed and be memorable to clients. Tell them that you are an active player in your profession, community and your life. Tell them that this is the energy and commitment that you’ll bring to their business.
4. Lease your ideal office furniture.
Plan your office right the first time. Get what you need and want for that dynamic first impression. Then, lease it for a low monthly payment that is tax deductible.
5. Stop being a pack rat, personally or corporately.
A messy space is considered untrustworthy. It is common to hoard things like paper and files (yes, even in this digital age). However, it costs you credibility. Don’t you want your clients to know that you are in control of your own situation and worthy of their business?
6. Think vertically and horizontally.
A room has height, width and depth. Maximize all available space and have it serve a function. Your office should greet you, store objects and motivate you.
7. Use your office as a motivational tool.
What are your business and personal goals? Plan the elements of your space so that they remind you of your commitment to your goals and inevitable success.
8. Stimulate all your senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.
The more senses you stimulate the more invigorating, productive and memorable the space. Flowers, the aroma of coffee, a Persian carpet on the floor. Each sense that you enhance makes you memorable.
The impact of colour and its psychology is quite well known. Some colours like blue are calming, yellow evokes a bright and cheerful feeling, red is vital and dramatic, green is fresh and environmentally conscious. What colour is your parachute?
10. Respect client confidentiality.
Keep papers and your computer screen private; don’t reveal too much information. Also, keep other client files locked and away from view.
Dolores Pian is the Principal of Spaces Custom Interiors, a Toronto interior design firm specializing in creating spaces that make people more productive and happier. She has worked on a variety of projects from large to small, from hospitals and corporate offices to the intimate space of homes, and even a jail. (Yes, jails do get designed. Yes, she is versatile.)