Do you judge ‘a book by its cover’?

(18 /12 /2014)

“Never judge a book by its cover”!  That is a key life lesson you’re taught from a very young age.  Of course, no one actually pays any attention to this, of course you judge everything on first impressions – your new boss, the magazine you choose from the rack, the restaurant you walk into, the meal you eat.  If it doesn’t look good, sound right and meet your expectations pretty much immediately, you walk on, give a bad review or decide then and there that your new boss is actually an ogre!

It’s no different in the business world and perhaps even more cutthroat – you have about 30 seconds to pitch your business in an “elevator pitch” and if you don’t nail it, then it’s pretty much over.  And the same goes with the presentation of any hospitality establishment and its staff – the first impression is critical.

I experienced this first-hand quite recently when I entered a coffee shop I hadn’t been to before.  The front counter looked they had just dealt with an onslaught of customers, yet the place was empty.  Staff members were not uniform in their appearance – some had the establishment’s shirt on, others wore another component of the uniform, some had an apron on, others didn’t.  And I was almost overcome by the smell of surface spray as I watched two staff members combat some sort of insect infestation.

Now normally, I would see this kind of thing and pretty much run out the door.  But on this day, I was curious to see whether my first impression – one of disgust I think – was correct so I took the plunge and ordered.  What was presented to me unfortunately, reflected the whole look of the place…no love nor respect for the business was shown on that plate.  Yet, I’m sure management wonder why the business isn’t abuzz with customers.

So why do customers enter one place over another?  First impressions!  Successfully busy hospitality establishments have a certain charm; they’re well presented, clean and tidy; staff greet patrons with a smile and even if they’re not in a uniform, they are dressed in a way that reflects the business’s style; and they’re food is treated with love and respect, it isn’t just thrown on the plate.  The place doesn’t have to look like the Ritz – I know of some really old places which seemed to have opened before time began based on how they look, but they are overflowing with diners.  And the reason for this?  These businesses have clearly considered just how important first impressions are and have put as much effort into this, as they do in preparing their food.

Books will always be judged by their covers.  So, if you think of your business as a book and make sure the cover is inviting and intriguing, you can be sure you will have customers that read right through to the end.

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