You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. There are times when first meeting a potential client that you’ll never get a second chance to make an impression at all; if the first time you meet wasn’t good enough, they simply won’t come back. We make judgements based on just a few moments of interaction; when we shake hands, was eye contact made? Does the person appear nervous or unprepared? The way a person looks, how their voice sounds, even how they smell might affect how we perceive them for a long period of time. For clients entering your offices, your business is a reflection of you; your work ethic, your mannerisms, your personality. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a clean business; you want to make a good first impression.
The importance of first impressions comes from a psychological phenomenon known as thin-slicing, a phenomenon in which we judge an individual based on a “thin slice” of time. There are a few reasons we thin-slice; the first comes from an instinctive need to recognize danger immediately. For any species, it’s important to immediately recognize friend from foe and asset from liability; it’s no wonder, then, that our nervous system and minds seems equipped to judge almost immediately. The second reason stems from stereotypes; if you have known messy people to be disorganized and unreliable, and you step into a messy office, you’ll immediately jump to the conclusion that the business and it’s staff aren’t trustworthy. The third reason is that thin-slicing does away with superfluous information; someone might try to convince you that their office isn’t usually so messy, or that they really are organized, but you’ve already drawn your conclusion from the available data.
The consequence of a bad first impression is compounded by confirmation bias. Let’s say you meet someone, and you decide they’re a bit of a goofball. Having made this decision, perhaps even unconsciously, you’ll take note every time they slack off, make a joke, or take life less-than-seriously. You’ll also ignore the times that they act seriously, work hard and take responsibility, because these instances don’t fit the narrative you have laid out for them. These narratives are formed during the first impression, so if your business is a mess, your clientele will ignore the times you are neat and conscientious and focus instead on when you’re absent-minded and disorganized, even if those times are few and far between.
You don’t want your clients to assume you’re a lazy slob, then fit everything you do in the lazy slob narrative. You probably don’t want to clean your office yourself either; there’s a good chance you don’t have the time, tools or technique to get a perfect clean. Professional office cleaning is the solution to the first impression problem; make sure the impression your office gives is neat, organized, diligent and professional, just like you.