Stupid Things Businesses DoBy Alan Walsh: CEO, Huntington ConsultancyI’ve worked with a lot of businesses over the course of my career, and I never cease to be amazed bysome of the inexplicable things otherwise smart, rational business leaders do to shoot themselves in thefoot.Here’s one that really makes me shake my head:Not Having a Decent Place to Receive VisitorsMost businesses have visitors .. customers, bankers, vendors, and others. These people have an impacton the success of your business. First impressions count a great deal. Yet many businesses have noplace to properly receive their visitors.There should be a professional reception area when they first come in; and someone who professionallygreets them. There should also be a professional place to take them for meetings. The path fromreception to meeting room should be clean, neat, and professional.Far too often, there’s no one to meet them when they walk in the door. There’s no place to wait for theperson(s) they came to see. There’s no neat, clean, professional place to take them.I’ve seen situations where visitors had to step around boxes, files, furniture and equipment just to get in.Their first impression is of a sloppy, unprofessional environment. I’ve watched visitors walk into meetingrooms where employees were eating their lunch. I’ve watched visitors walk into rooms filled with trash. Icould go on & on about all the other things I’ve observed.I realize that many businesses just don’t have the space for fancy setups. Still, there’s much you can doto improve your professional image. Even if the President’s office is the only place you can take visitors, itshould look neat, clean, and professional. Some I’ve seen look like rat nests.It’s well worth your time to carve out a professional meeting space. It should have sufficient space foreveryone, with reasonably comfortable furniture. You should be able to offer them a cup of coffee or tea,or a bottle of water. There should be a clean, properly functioning bathroom nearby for them to use. If youhave any awards, they should be prominently displayed in a professional manner (not in some cheapframe from the dollar store). The meeting room can also double as a sales room in which you displaysamples of your products. If you’re a service provider, display photos or info illustrating your services. Anyequipment necessary for presentations should be in place and ready to go. Everyone meeting the visitorsshould be professionally dressed. Company participants shouldn’t be late to the meeting.Business is messy, and they will probably see some of it during their stay; especially if you give them atour. That’s okay. They expect that. But if the reception and meeting rooms are messy, it sends anegative message to your visitors. You want to create an oasis for them ..away from the messy side ofthe business.You want to put your best foot forward at all times. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it ..justexercise a little common sense and housekeeping.Don’t shoot yourself in the foot over something so basic and common-sense.