First impressions are everything. 

The minute clients walk in your door, they should get a feel of who you are as a company. The ambiance of your lobby sets the tone of what kind of experience they are about to have, and that is extremely important for client confidence in the competitive Oklahoma City and Tulsa Metro area markets. Have you ever walked into a business and immediately walked back out based on the interior appearance? No one wants to trust his or her health, money or time to a business that appears to be outdated, or uncared for. You have to establish trust with your client, and a functional, clean, smartly designed lobby is the first step in developing that relationship.

Does my lobby even need a renovation?

Considering your lobby is a client’s first impression of your business, it must be up to par with your goals as a business owner or manager. Renovations serve as a foundation for future business, as well as retaining current clients.  Whether you have a medical office, restaurant, hotel, retail space or an apartment building, retaining old clients and pursuing new ones is crucial to your business. Take a good look at your lobby and see if it has any of the following:

  • Mismatched or broken furniture
  • Cracked or faded floor tiles
  • Outdated colors
  • Peeling wall surface or wallpaper
  • Generic, outdated bathroom
  • Poor layout and flow
  • Sagging or stained ceiling tiles
  • Too hot or too cold room temperature
  • Unappealing visuals
  • Small waiting area
  • Non-functional reception desk area
  • Visible file cabinets, printers, etc.
  • Musty odor

If you answered yes to any of the above, that can reflect poorly on your business. It can also be more expensive in the long run to put off repairs and renovations. Materials and labor only get more expensive as time goes on, and as your building wears through the years, repairs can become costly. 

Your business’ appearance reflects the quality of your business, so how do you want to be perceived? 

Your lobby must match your clients’ expectations of your company, and your services. Remember, first impressions are paramount. If you have an upscale apartment building or restaurant, then keeping your lobby sophisticated and up to date reflects that level of service. If you have a fun, funky retail store, your lobby will need to be upbeat, colorful and trend to mirror your products. If your business caters to a more subdued clientele, perhaps a medical practice or spa, then a relaxing, calm atmosphere is essential for your clients to feel at peace and have trust in your services.  

Does a new lobby increase your properties value?

Anytime you invest in your company you boost its value, whether that is in production, marketing, education or aesthetics. After all, a client’s satisfaction is everything, so making them comfortable from the minute they walk in your door is a great start for your company’s future. If long-term renovations are planned for your building, then starting with the lobby is the perfect way to begin that journey. 

If your budget only allows small increments of renovation, then go with that; just don’t forget the big picture. This means planning long-term goals for the aesthetics of your property. Most definitely, you will not see an immediate cash return on your renovation dollars, that is not the point. The point is to pave the way for future business and to keep the current clients that you have. 

It is important to maintain a consistent level of quality during your client’s entire experience, whether that is in the lobby, public restroom, dining area, rooms, or any other public spaces that are utilized by guests. You don’t want to create a positive atmosphere for them at the start only to have that shattered as they continue through your company space and see aging, outdated halls and rooms. Develop a long-term plan for your business and see it through. If you have major goals for your company, then investing in your business now means investing in it’s future.

There is also the factor of resale. Should you ever sell your Oklahoma company or decide to move it to another space, then historically a spruced up interior will increase your sales price. It also gives you a competitive edge over other businesses for sale. If you have taken care of your business with updates and maintained repairs, it is more appealing for a buyer, as well as easier for their move in.

In addition, the more upscale and up to date your interior is, the better prices you can charge for your services or products. Consumer confidence can pay off in dividends and when you give them that confidence through comfort and trust, they are more willing to pay more for things they deem important.

How can a renovation help my lobby function better?

If developing or keeping a customer base is important to you, then a well thought out lobby is essential.  It is important to create a balance of security, aesthetics, and operations. Here are some key things to consider:

Space – Your lobby should be designed to accommodate maximum occupancy; this is especially true for doctors’ offices, as they can get extremely busy during peak illness seasons. 

Security – For the safety of your clients and employees, visibility should be optimal from all sides. Glass entrances allow employees to see who is coming in the door and exits should be easily accessible.

Flow & Efficiency – Lobbies should be designed to direct traffic efficiently through the lobby to the reception desk, and then toward seating areas. This prevents line stagnation and keeps seating areas separate from queuing areas.

Workspace – If a receptionist or clerk mans your lobby, a secured area for that purpose is essential. Bringing clients toward the back of the room for check-in, versus to the side or near the front allows space to be better utilized and prevents traffic jams. It also frees up space for seating areas and refreshment bars.

Flooring – Lobbies often must withstand heavy foot traffic, therefore your flooring choice must be durable, easy to maintain, and safe for your clients. If you choose tile or wood floors, they must be slip-resistant, with a slight texture for shoe gripping. Patterned tile can also increase traffic flow by directing the eye toward the reception desk, or check-in.

The reinvention of your lobby is fundamental to the continued success of your business. With a solid design plan, and a well-thought out long-term goal, your lobby can make an amazing first impression as well as an inviting place to greet clients.

Margo Waldrop is the content manager and head writer for Home Improvements of America, parent company to several home and commercial remodeling companies. For access to re-posting of articles or any content questions for Margo, feel free to email her at margow4006@gmail.com.