Growing up, your mom probably forced you to bathe, brush your hair and teeth, and put on nice clothes whenever you left the house. That’s because she knew appearances count and people form an impression of you within seconds of that first meeting. Well, it’s the same for a business. Today, we’ll discuss how to make your business look more professional to create that great image for customers and increase sales.
Appearances are everything when it comes to business. You could have an excellent concept for a company, but if the presentation isn’t correct, the success you achieve is limited — and you might find your results disappointing. Perhaps the most important ‘appearance’ aspect for companies is how professional they appear to the target market. After all, this aspect of your image has a crucial impact on the company’s overall success or failure.
In this blog post, let’s take a look at a few key ways that companies can improve their professional image, both digitally and in the “real world.”
Take yourself seriously
It’s important that you’re not too full of yourself when you’re running a company. But equally important, you want to avoid appearing too humble, calling your ability to satisfy customers into question. Perhaps the most critical mistake company owners make when it comes to their professionalism is that, well, they don’t take themselves as seriously as they should do. Taking yourself and your business seriously is the backbone of your professional image. If you believe in what you’re doing and take it seriously, then you naturally project a professional attitude. On the other hand, if you’re too bashful about your business, and you’re continually downplaying what you’re doing, your potential customers will naturally have doubts. So don’t be arrogant, but do project confidence!
A professional website
For most of your customers, their first interaction with your company occurs via your website. Even consumers who purchase from a brick and mortar store, Google a company’s name and check out their website before deciding whether to get in touch. So it’s worthwhile asking: what do they see when they land at your website?
If the website was designed by expert designers, is free of errors, and has high-quality photographs, visitors have positive impressions of your professionalism: they know you’re the real deal. It’s when the professionalism comes into question, such as when there are no security certificates and there are multiple errors, that problems arise.
Contact and Google page information
Unless your business represents an already famous brand, consumers likely have doubts about the company’s legitimacy with so many scam artists and fly-by-night imposters out there. It’s up to you to show your trustworthiness by employing established elements of legitimate businesses on your website.
While there are many ways to show you’re a legitimate business, one of the most efficient ways is to provide contact information pointing to a real address and phone number on your website and electronic communication, such as email (this is a requirement for an email in new legislation passed in the US and EU).
On your website, list as many different contact methods as possible — such as phone number, email address, the address for your headquarters, and offer a live chat feature. You should also claim your Google Business Page and fill it out the required information completely, then validate your site claim using your physical address. People are more likely to trust that you’re the real deal if they see your business has a presence on legitimate sites, like Google.
A professional workplace
Now let’s move onto thinking about your office or another workspace. Some managers consider the workspace of limited impact, but that’s the wrong approach. Your workspace is the foundation of your professionalism! So it’s really important to check that your workspace conveys the right message.
To begin, think about the decor used in the space. Do your furniture and structural elements appear high-quality? What message do these elements convey?
For instance, an attorney or financial advisor with a large conference room furnished with a high-quality table, state-of-the-art electronic connections, and plush carpet suggests the service is also high-quality; commanding large fees from many clients. Conversely, a store offering discount appliances that looks like a warehouse suggests they keep operating expenses to a minimum so they can offer the best price possible on products. Match your workplace to the message that motivates your target market.
Make a strong first impression on visitors. If you run a professional service business, for example, you might include a reception area to greet guests. You encourage visitors to your premises, after all, having a staffed reception area shows you value visitors and want to ensure each visitor has uninterrupted private visits with service providers. All you really need is a comfortable space with a seating area and receptionist, and that’s it. You might push things even further in the right direction by making refreshments available, too.
Clean and spacious
You should also hire a cleaner to spruce up the office every evening as nothing looks so unprofessional as dust and disorder.
With staff and visitors working routinely in your space, it quickly falls into a state of disrepair if you’re not staying on top of cleaning. Having a clean space won’t just make your space more enjoyable to work in; it also improves the perception that your visitors form of your business. Or rather, it prevents visitors from forming a negative image of your company. Sometimes, it’s not about doing things to boost the image; it’s about taking care of the essentials that people expect. And a clean work environment is most definitely one of those things.
Fit with your brand
There’s another aspect that you need to consider when it comes to your office. And that is the fit between the space you create and your branding?
Branding is key to the overall success of your company. Some companies make the mistake of thinking their branding just relates messages they push out into the world; what their customers see, essentially.
Again, that’s not the case. Your branding feeds through every aspect of your business, including the design of your office, the look and feel of your website, and the way your staff works with customers. Your visitors will question your authenticity (and thus your professionalism) if these aspects of your business are out of sync with your branding. For example, if you promote yourself as a young and hip company, you must have a young and hip office. If you’re more of a traditional company, then a traditional office would make more sense. You get the idea.
You can make your office look professional, but that counts for nothing if your staff aren’t professional.
Multiple factors contribute to presenting a professional team. The first is based on appearance. Do they look professional? Setting standards for work clothing and grooming helps avoid any awkward situations. You can also invest in RFID lanyards for your team; this improves the professional look of your office, and also gives your site a security boost. Of course, conduct plays a big role when it comes to your company’s professionalism. The easiest way to present a professional atmosphere through hiring and training staff so they know what behaviors are expected.
Sometimes working in a space, you don’t see maintenance issues unless they involve a broken toilet or lights that aren’t bright enough. Your visitors see other maintenance issues like marks on the walls, shabby furniture, and missing or cracked tiles, all of which threaten your professional look.
Easy to reach
If there’s one thing that makes a business appear unprofessional, it’s when they don’t respond to customers. Indeed, poor communication is enough that most people lose faith in a company. Think of it this way: no-one takes the time to contact a company if it’s not important. It’s not just about responding to your customers’ comments, either: you should do so promptly. No customer should wait for a week or more to receive a response to a query, not in this day and age.
Look at adding as many different communication methods as possible (such as email, phone, live chat, and social media responses–some businesses go so far as to hold customer service hours at designated times on social platforms) so that it’s as straightforward as possible for your customers to speak with someone. Of course, you must also look at how you’re responding to your customers; that responses are as professional as possible?
In the right location
Finally, at some point, you must consider what your location says about your business. For example, if you’re working from home, people often develop a slightly lower opinion of your company than if you worked in a bona fide office. Sometimes the location of the office has an influence too. For example, being located in a questionable part of town isn’t the same as having a prestigious downtown location. While it’s unlikely that you can afford an enviable location starting out, you should avoid ones that have a negative impact on people’s perceptions.
Creating a professional image does take time, effort, and money, but it’s a worthwhile pursuit, for the simple reason that it has an influence on the way people perceive your company. The goal is to create an image that no one doubts.
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