It’s true: you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression. That applies to you, your office team, and to your office. If clients and prospects visit your office and routinely see shabby furniture and marginally-controlled chaos, chances are your company will miss the opportunity to make that all-important positive first impression.

Chances are, you don’t notice the cracked plaster in the waiting room because you look at it every day. If you want to get an impartial opinion on how outsiders see your office, invite a few business acquaintances in to give you their impressions of your workplace and suggest improvements. Better yet, ask an interior designer, if you can afford one.

It isn’t hard to create an office that will impress clients and potential clients. It doesn’t cost a lot of operating capital, either, unless you go for a complete tear-down and rebuild. By taking a few simple steps, you can turn an unattractive office into an office that says success just by its look.

Here’s how.

First things first

Choose office furniture suitable for your business. For example, lawyers tend to go for traditional wood desks and tables. Your business should choose office furniture that offers efficiency while also projecting the image you want to give office visitors. A small office may look bigger if you use glass tables and filing cabinets instead of heavy oak desks.

Decorate with customers in mind. Window treatments may add a splash of color that’s attractive to the eye. Be careful choosing the art for your walls. It should complement your furnishings without drawing attention away from the important business at hand. You may love the brightly-colored wall hanging behind you, but it could be a distraction to the person with whom you’re talking.

Shine a light. Office lighting is important to both your staff and office visitors. Harsh, overhead lights may be an impairment, while soft desk lighting may be more conducive to work. It may also present a more “homey” environment to first-time visitors.

Keep office equipment up to date. A clean, well-organized, controlled office environment makes a statement. So does the latest in technology. Well-equipped work stations demonstrate a company on-the-go and in-the-know. If prospects see outdated computers, or a copy machine held together with duct tape, you aren’t going to score big points.

Consider your flooring. Attractive commercial carpeting absorbs sound and can indicate a successful company. Carpets are also easier on the feet during busy work days. However, worn-out, dirty carpets won’t score you any points with new prospects, no matter how good your company is.

Don’t forget the outside of the office. Add attractive signage showing prospects they’ve arrived. Add some professional landscaping to make your office more welcoming. Sweep the sidewalks and wash the windows regularly. If you have options on exterior wall colors, go with neutral colors that suit the neighborhood. Add exterior lighting, especially near stairs and in the parking lot, to make the office appear welcoming after dark and to increase safety for your customers.


Sweat the small stuff

Clean up your act. If desks and tabletops are cluttered with personal items, pen holders, smelly old coffee cups and stacks of files, your office looks messy and disorganized. Put folders and important papers in filing cabinets and keep desk knick-knacks to a minimum. Ask employees to maintain neat desktops to make the right impression on new clients.

Have the office professionally cleaned. Dust on waiting room tables, stained carpet, overflowing wastebaskets – all say “we aren’t professionals.” Spend a little money to have the office cleaned as often as needed – daily, a couple of days a week – but at least once a week. Nothing says “we don’t care” like an end table where you can write your initials in the dust.

Add some green. An office is more inviting if you have potted plants or other attractive displays of greenery. There are even companies that will visit your office regularly to maintain plants and swap out wilted greenery.

Create an atmosphere of success. Hang company awards and citations on the waiting room wall. Hang pictures of completed projects on the walls. Don’t hide company success. Use these trust builders to create prospects’ confidence in the decision to talk to you.


Making that good first impression can be a real boost to your bottom line. Maintain a chaotic, messy office and you may never get a chance to make any impression because that prospect has already left the building.  


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.