Jewels or Junk? What will I see in your window?

Do people see exactly what you want them to see when they look in your window?

I’m sure you will agree with this:

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Photo by Rebecca Matthews on Unsplash

Back when I was a bank teller ….

Just after the dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period, my first assignment in the Management Training Program of the bank I joined right after college, was as a teller at one of their branches.

Some of you may never have been inside a bank branch, but back then, they were the center of your personal and business banking universe.

There was no online capability and everything had to be done face-face.

I won’t try to make you jealous of my experience … making sure the transactions at my window, and in the entire branch, were balanced before anyone could leave the branch … the often tedious nature of handling deposits or standing around waiting for one … but I remember vividly one of the most powerful lessons I learned on my first day:

“The teller is the face of the bank.”

“The teller is the face of the bank.”

“You are the window through which every customer sees us, and you need to look professional, act professionally, and at every moment, realize to that customer, you ARE the bank.”

That remains a powerful lesson today and one that you should embrace in whatever role you serve.

And, at no extra charge, here is a bonus tip:

There is still tremendous value in face-to-face communication.

What do people see when they look at your business?

The other day, I was driving around and had to laugh when I saw a sign-making and design shop sitting next to a bunch of stores that desperately needed signs.

What was so funny?

The sign-making shop looked like someone rescued its storefront from the city dump!

“Who would buy a sign from a shop that looked like crap?

Would you expect the sign you bought to be beautiful and tidy when the sign-maker’s shop, and the signs in his window, look so dilapidated?

I don’t think so.

Do you care at all about tidiness and neatness?

You have probably seen the same thing on the sides of trucks or route vans.

  • The signage has been chipped and worn off so many of the letters are missing or unreadable.
  • The truck hasn’t been washed since the 2011 rainstorm.
  • The driver looks like he just rolled out of bed and found today’s outfit buried in his hamper from three weeks ago.

Does any of this make any difference?

What do you think?

BTW, this is not about money. It isn’t about new trucks or fancy clothes.

It’s having pride in how the world sees you and your business.

You only get one chance to make a first impression.

If you would buy a sign from this shop, my guess is you have a shop much like that one.

If you didn’t notice or care about the condition of his shop, why would you notice or care about your own?

And, if you don’t care about your own, how much do your prospects and actual customers care about it?

Not enough.

Police up your area, son!

Famous words – Police Up – uttered often … and usually in much more colorful language … from every drill sergeant the Army ever had.

Translation: Pick up every scrap of litter, every cigarette butt, everything that conforms to this ancient military saying:

“If it moves, salute it.

If it doesn’t move, pick it up.

If you can’t pick it up, paint it.”

When I was in the Army … basic training, and beyond … every time we stopped moving, those words echoed no matter where we were … across the parade ground, around the mess hall and even in the woods during our frequent little camping expeditions.

So, when I see your messy store … shelves with scattered products totally out of alignment, litter strewn about or unglamorously shoved in a corner, unpacked boxes strewn about … I just want to shout out … using some of the saltier language that immediately comes to mind …

“Police up this damn sh**hole, burrheads!”

If you don’t want to police your area …

… then I figure it’s emblematic of the experience I can expect if I become your customer.

So, I probably won’t.

Contrarily, if I see a well-organized, clean and tidy environment, I expect to have a similar experience. While it may not turn out to be true, it’s more likely than not, and it will at least encourage me to be a customer

What do people see when they look in your window?

Take some time to consider your own storefront.

If you operate a bricks and mortar business, you know exactly what I mean.

But, it also applies to your website, the way your receptionist greets customers or answers the phone.

If you run a professional office, how do you greet and treat clients when they show up for a meeting?

I know in my professional offices over the years, we ALWAYS asked our visitor if they wanted coffee or water, did they need access to a phone (Yeah, in some of those good ol’ days, they didn’t have one in their pocket).

Is the lobby sparkling or full of dead flowers and 5 year-old magazines?

A little old-fashioned hospitality goes a long way, more so today when it’s in such short supply.

Sure, go ahead and say,

“Big deal. That’s not what they’re here for. My customers don’t care about the window dressing, just what’s inside the window.

Really? I wouldn’t bet my business on it.

Question: What will you do today to make sure you make a great first impression?

Let me know in the comments below and we’ll build on that to expand upon our discussion.

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