Making a Good First Impression on Your Guests

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First impressions count—whether it’s how you present yourself to someone you’re just meeting or the way your healthcare operation presents itself to the public. As the first place a visitor sees, your lobby sets the tone for your business. 

“The lobby tells the story of your facility,” says Gordon Food Service Cleaning Solutions and Beverage Specialist Mark Hendzell. “If it’s clean and neat and has a pleasant scent, all of that goes into a good first impression.” 

How to Present a Positive Experience to Patients, Residents, and Guests 

Keep it Clean

The lobby should be immaculate. Signs of dirt or laziness on the part of your staff reflect badly on your business. 

Look Down

“If I’m looking at a lobby, my eyes go right to the floor,” says Gordon Food Service Cleaning Solutions and Beverage Specialist Mike Palmer. “How clean is it? That immediately tells me a lot about what’s going on there.” 

Factor in Weather

During winter and inclement weather, Palmer advises adding walk-off mats in the entryway and the lobby “to get the salt, snow, slush, and dirt off shoes so it doesn’t get tracked all over the building.” Have housekeeping staff vacuum mats and carpeting frequently. Also, wet floors are a safety hazard; make sure they’re dry. 

Keep Sanitizers on Hand for Hands 

With flu season upon us, “having hand sanitizers out front and around the building says ‘I care about my residents,’” Hendzell notes. 

Lighten Up

Keep the lobby well lit, both for ambience and for safety. “Make sure blinds and curtains are open for natural light,” suggests Gordon Food Service Nutrition Resource Center Manager Sara Kwiatkowski, RD. 

Make it Cozy

“It should be warm and inviting, a place where people would want to be,” Kwiatkowski says. “Give it a home-like appeal. Have some reading material there and perhaps even a computer to use.” Lobbies often have office-like furniture, “but comfy chairs give a better impression,” she advises. 

Divide to Multiply Appeal

If space allows, suggest separate areas visually. Beyond the entryway, create a quiet corner for reading and another area for gathering with family members or friends. 

Add Friendly Touches

Set out fresh-baked cookies and place flowers on the desk, Kwiatkowski suggests. “A lot of places have self-service coffee machines or brewers,” Palmer adds. “That’s a nice touch.” 

Make it Smell Nice

Fresh-baked cookies, fresh coffee, and fresh flowers also appeal to the sense of smell, a crucial factor in many facilities. A pleasant olfactory experience helps underscore that the place is well-maintained and that residents or patients are well-cared-for. 

Tempt Palates

At the entrance of the foodservice area, display a photo or plated version of the food to be served at the next meal. “That helps people know what’s for lunch, what’s for dinner,” Kwiatkowski says. 

Stay Focused

“Everybody’s on a budget today, and that has a lot to do with how things look,” Palmer says. “Smart operators are organized, focused, and find a way to make things work.” 

Don’t Oversell

“Make sure the lobby doesn’t outmatch the rest of the building, or you’ll disappoint people once they get beyond it,” Kwiatkowski says. 

Making a first impression is just one of the ways to make your healthcare foodservice operations successful. By working collaboratively with your operation, we can provide you with a suite of resources and solutions which can help your healthcare meal program grow – from advising on how to stay in compliance with industry regulations, to controlling your food service costs, and more.

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