We have new clients coming to the studio today. My studio happens to be in my home. It makes everything personal That can be a bonus- it’s homey. But, also much more challenging to keep it professional and ready for business. We live here. It’s not always picture perfect!
Every day is busy, and I really don’t have time to clean my entire house from top to bottom. First impressions are important, but it’s certainly a little late now to hire an Alice to make it Brady perfect. And oh, yeah…the Bradys and their loyal Alice are fictional. For those of us who have studios in the home, and real families, keeping everything beautiful is an honest and deliberate act of daily sacrifice.
Since we aren’t in an office setting, we don’t have a receptionist to greet our clients. Very often, we are with another student when new students arrive for the first time. How do we help these new students navigate arriving at the studio? This is an area that we are still trying to grow in. But there are some things we try to always do. Notice that I said the word try…we aren’t living in a magazine.
Here are the five strategic areas that I try to have ready for first impressions and ongoing client comfort:
- Parking: Before students come, they need clear verbal or written directions on where to park.
- Entry Way: I have a welcome mat, and seasonal flowers by the front entry. If you are able to have a studio sign out front at your location, that’s a bonus! That’s one benefit we have at our current location. Also, letting the students know if they are expected to knock or come right in is important. They are going to feel weird walking right in thefront door, (if that’s what you want). They need to know what is expected.
- Waiting Area: The waiting students and parents need a place to feel comfortable besides just sitting in their cars. I have a waiting area with a nice sofa, loveseat and some pretty pillow. There is a coffee table with magazines. I strategically set up any brochures or fliers of upcoming events. Before lessons start, I run a dust cloth over the surfaces daily. Having a crate of toys handy for little ones keeps them occupied. Quiet building toys and books work well in the studio.
- Front bathroom: Each day I make sure that it is clean and picked up. If this bathroom is used by your family as mine has been- the need to double check is amplified. They don’t have a visitors eye. It’s also helpful to make sure there is ample soap & toilet paper. When you are busy teaching, you can’t resupply.
- In the Studio: There is a cute little chalkboard outside the studio door about upcoming events. I have two chairs for listening parents. Extra copies of registration papers are ready. I dust the surfaces and quickly vacuum before teaching if needed.
Keeping the studio itself picked-up has been the greatest challenge for me. I teach a variety of students, piano and singers of all different levels. They each have different music. By the middle of each week, my grand piano is stacked with music books. It becomes my desk of sorts. During peak registration periods I may have ran out of printed registration materials. With all the students coming and going, I may need to vacuum and sweep more frequently.
I always need to double-check everything as I live here, and can quickly get used to things out of place. I am a creative messy, and so I can handle my little music piles. However, I have to remind myself that my clients may not be creatives. They may have less tolerance for clutter of any kind. For their comfort, I need to do my best to be a little neater.
If this is an area of struggle for you also, solicit your family for help. If they contribute to things out of place, then they need to help maintain the environment.
The studio belongs to all of us in the family. Everyone that has lived in my house has been a musician, had an artistic bent, and a creative messy nature. (I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.) It’s just how we are wired here, so we really have to try doubly hard for our guests.
I wish I could say that I always have these things in place, but I really do the best I can! Some seasons of life have been easier than others. So, I try to keep it simple.
One more important thing: For the sake of your students comfort, I strongly suggest to put your pets away. Not everyone loves your animals. Some people are allergic! Remind your family members to not have the pets out in the student areas during business hours. This has been an ongoing challenge for our family. Sometimes our two dogs have found their way to greeting our guests, and it’s just not preferable for a myriad of reasons.
Maintaining these five essential areas goes beyond first impression, it creates a lovely environment for your students to enjoy every week. They deserve it, and so do you!
Let’s dish…what do you do to make a great first impression? I’d love to hear your strategies!