3 tips to make the best first impression

2015 05 12 15 59 09 147 Geier Jay 200

We've all met that guy who gives us a horrible first impression. Sometimes, the reason is obvious, but other times you might not be able to put your finger on it. Sure, he's smiling and saying all the right things -- but you just don't trust him!

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.

It might seem petty, but what if I told you that gut feeling could be traced back to science? According to a Princeton University research report, people are able to form snap judgments of each other within just a tenth of a second. The subjects in the study were able to analyze and rate whether a stranger's face was trustworthy, aggressive, attractive, likeable, or competent within the blink of an eye.

But why should you care? The truth is simple. Knowing how to create an incredible first impression using your office space, staff, and personal image is one of the most important things that you can do for the success of your business. And if you aren't intentional about making a great first impression, you're going to turn away new patients and all the referrals they bring with them.

The good news is that creating a great first impression isn't really all that difficult. Here are three simple tips that will help you make your best possible first impression.

1. Your reception area

Make sure your reception area is up to date, comfortable, and chic. This might sound like common sense, but you'd be surprised. I've walked into practices that smell like mothballs. I've seen reception areas with worn old chairs, dusty curtains, and faded silk flower arrangements. I've seen it all: stained carpets, ugly artwork, and woefully outdated magazines. I've even seen "office pets."

“You need to step into your office with the eyes of a new patient.”

Try to think of it this way: You need to step into your office with the eyes of a new patient. Better yet, hire someone, preferably a woman in her 40s (the decision-maker of the family), to give you an honest assessment. What catches her attention? What appeals to all of her senses -- touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight? Would she want to stay or, more important, come back?

If the décor is outdated, will she assume the equipment is outdated as well? If the carpet is dirty, will she assume you and your staff are unhygienic? You get the picture. Getting objective feedback will show you which areas need updating, tweaking, or renovating.

Here are a few quick ideas:

  • Have a few candles lit around the office to create a pleasant aroma.
  • Bake chocolate chip cookies to offer to patients and family members in the reception area.
  • Offer your patients cold and hot beverages.
  • Assess and update your reading material.
  • Get rid of clutter.
  • Choose colors that are calming and serene (think muted blues and greens).
  • Make sure your reception area is getting plenty of natural light.

Remember that your patients will see the reception area before they even have the chance to speak to you or your staff. If it only takes a tenth of a second to form opinions on another human being, imagine how quickly they'll judge some tacky wallpaper or faded upholstery.

2. Your image dictates your influence

How do you look when you go into the office every morning? Do you look the part? Ask someone else who is objective to give you a "snap judgment" of your appearance. Do you look authoritative? Trustworthy? How about friendly? Sometimes it's as simple as being clean cut -- shaving your beard -- or choosing lighter, fresher makeup! Also, make sure your lab coat or professional wear is crisp and free of pet hair and lint.

You may be thinking, "Wait a minute, Jay, I should shave off my 20-year-old goatee? Really?"

Look, no one, especially women, want to see whiskers sticking out of a mask when your face is that close. So while it's easier to believe that you can wear whatever wrinkled sweater you want and rock that ponytail and Gandalf beard, the truth is that every detail counts.

3. Your staff

Your staff's image is a reflection of you, so make sure it's a positive one. No, of course that doesn't mean you go around telling your team members to lose weight or wear more or less makeup. It doesn't mean you abuse your power ever. But it does mean that you take your staff's image very seriously. Are their uniforms chic and up to date? Do they come into the office looking fresh, clean, and presentable every day? Does their hair look brushed? Do their smiles look bright? You work in the healthcare industry, so your staff needs to look happy, healthy, and hygienic every single day.

Three simple tips that will help you to create a strong image of authority, build credibility, and influence your patients.

If you choose to take control of these three areas, you'll take control of your new patient's experience and snap judgments. And you won't have to wait long to see an increase in new patients, returning patients, and referrals.

Don't forget, you've only got a tenth of a second. What are you going to do with it?

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute. For more information on the institute's trainings, visit www.sionsitesolutions.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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