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Strong first impression vital for a business

February 27, 2012

Do you know what first impression your business makes? Meeting a business could include visiting the place of business, visiting a website, viewing a brochure, or meeting the owner face to face. Are you making a positive and lasting impression?

By Jessica Lambert, ASU-SBDC Training Coordinator 


SAN ANGELO, Texas — Do you know what first impression your business makes?

According to Bill Lampton, Ph.D., in the article “How to Make a Strong First Impression,” first impressions only take between seven and 17 seconds to be made. We can apply that to customers “meeting your businesses,” as well.

Meeting a business could include visiting the place of business, visiting a website, viewing a brochure, or meeting the owner face to face. Are you making a positive and lasting impression?

The majority of first impressions that people make are based on appearance. Many businesses rely on the belief that “My services speak for themselves,” or “The quality of my product speaks for itself.” But if potential customers can’t get over a negative first impression, they might never get to the point of purchasing what you have to offer.

I remember visiting a restaurant in Austin that amazed me from beginning to end. The restaurant was decorated in dramatic yet tasteful décor. I felt like I was almost on vacation, like I had arrived in an exotic country. The lighting inside was dim and intimate yet not too dark, and it made the restaurant glow with warmth. Each dish was brought out and displayed beautifully. I already knew the food would be delicious before I even tasted it because of how carefully it had been plated and how delicious it smelled. And of course, the hostess and servers were gracious and helpful from beginning to end, without being too attentive. I was able to spend quality time with the person I went with and we truly enjoyed the experience. Will I be back? Absolutely!

What I did not mention was that I had to wait 25 or more minutes to be seated, and we sat outside while we waited. Did we think about leaving? Honestly, when we first saw the crowd waiting outside, we did. But when we stepped inside to put our name on the list we got a glimpse of the beautiful restaurant and the food on others’ tables, we knew it would be worth the wait. That first impression was enough to keep us waiting as long as needed. Are you wondering about the cost for each person? Well, when all was said and done it cost a reasonable $15 per person.

The point of the story is not to make you hungry (although I think my stomach just growled), but to explain an experience of impressions made by the restaurant. As we become a more global economy, people will become more selective about where they spend their money.

If I just want a shirt, I might go online to find it. If I just want food, I can cook at home. But, if I want to enjoy a day out with friends or family, I will want to visit a store or restaurant that can provide a special experience or a unique collection.

How will you make your business stand out from the rest? Are you providing a professional and polished first impression? Do you provide something special that people can’t find anywhere else? It may be your fantastic employees or your fun atmosphere, or maybe you remember the first name of each of your customers.

Many businesses only need to make small adjustments to take their business from OK to amazing. Spend a day playing a customer of your business. Fill a day in their shoes. Is there an awkward step in the purchasing process? Is there an opportunity to make the experience more comfortable or enjoyable?

By always keeping an eye out for improvements, maybe creative ones, you can make sure your business will always make a great first impression.

“Business Tips” was written by Jessica Lambert, Business Development Training Coordinator and Certified Training Coordinator of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at

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