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"How Will Your Business Be Judged?"

by Dave Balch, "The Stay-at-Home CEO"ô

(c) 2002, A Few Good People, Inc.

Like it or not, people DO judge a book by its cover. Itís just a fact of life. Everything having to do with your business that is presented to the outside world is one more judging opportunity. How do you measure up?

Youíve probably heard it said, "You only have one chance to make a good first impression". There is a reason why it is an old adage; itís true!

There are so many ways that your business presents itself for that first impression. The first one that comes to mind is YOU, which can be either in person or on the phone. In person, you must look the part that you play. For example, if you portray yourself as someone who can help a business be successful, you must look successful. If you own a restaurant and you greet your guests, you should look clean, friendly, and inviting. The owner of a restaurant greeted us in a grease-stained T-shirt. Wrong! Not very appetizing, is it?

On the phone, you need to sound like you care about the caller and their problems. What kind of an impression would it make if you (or an employee) answered the phone sounding annoyed at the interruption?

Printed materials also make an impression, for better or worse. Is your business card professionally done, or does it look cheesy? Are your brochures professional looking or are they made on a copier? If they were made on a copier, you may get away with it if they are clean and neat, with good toner saturation. A sloppily made copy that is too faint, uneven, and/or crooked on the page will do you more harm than good. I am reminded of a man who approached me at a trade show and wanted to work together giving seminars. He handed me his Ďbrochureí, which consisted of about 10 pages of poorly copied pages, most of which were crooked, and all of which were bent, crumpled, or torn. I could not believe my eyes. I was appalled, but our parrot didnít seem to mind when I used it to line his cage.

While weíre on the subject of brochures, let me vent one of my pet peeves: grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Aaaaggghhh! Maybe itís just me, but if you want to make a bad impression, bad punctuation is a good way to do it, especially a misused apostrophe. For example, a local restaurant used "tomatoís" as the plural for "tomato", and made that mistake throughout its entire menu. I can certainly understand a typo once in a while, but geez.

You can only imagine how I reacted to this one: large, block letters, in neon, above a pet store that read "Petís, Fish, and More". How many people saw that and didnít realize that there should be no apostrophe??

I donít mean to make you paranoid. Wait a minute, yes I do! Be very careful how you present yourself to the world. Little things can mean a lot, whether your customers think so or not.

Remember that you only get one chance for that first impression. Make it a good one.

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© Copyright 2003, A Few Good People, Inc.
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