First and Lasting Impressions

First impressions are often the last impression a new customer will get about your store. If the first impression is not a good one, the customer may never come back.

First impressions are almost always based on our five senses; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. For most of us, these are not things we can simply turn off, so they are the first things that get “impressed” when we walk into a business or home. The impression left on our senses also happen very quickly. It could all happen within the first few seconds.

Unfortunately, as regulars in our business we will become accustomed to the sights and sounds within our business and we will, overtime, accept them as normal. Smell is the sense most susceptible to recognizing “normal” and so it is the hardest to train.


This may seem like an easy one. Does your shop/office look good? There is more to it than that. This is an entirely different blog topic, I’ll go into at another time, but keep these things in mind.

  1. Is your business clean?
  2. Is your business well maintained?
  3. Is your business fresh?
  4. Is your business well lit?

You may want to present a shabby, rundown, retro look, but it may not be the best presentation for success.


For this we are looking for an appropriate background. Depending on the atmosphere you want to present, the music you play will make a huge impression. If you are a glamorous boutique, don’t be blasting Rap—even if you like it.  Make sure you have a strong policy on this. You don’t want the teenager working the closing shift to send the wrong impression.


This is often pretty subtle, but make sure the temperature is comfortable for the environment. This is especially true if you sell clothes and people are going to be trying them on.


Taste won’t apply to many businesses, but I have walked into businesses (not restaurants) and they have left a “bad taste in my mouth”. Smell and taste are so closely related that you need to make sure your business tastes good.


Detecting the “smell factor”, as previously mentioned is hard. The easiest way to deal with it, is to control it. Air fresheners can help you control what your business smells like and prevent unwanted smells from taking over. I am not suggesting that you “mask” other odors, but making an effort to provide a pleasant olfactory atmosphere.

It may be necessary to bring in an outsider to help with this project, but it will be worth it. This is the kind of check you need to do for your business a few times a year. The “sight” side is the one that is often neglected the most and is subject to rapid decay.

Remember you only get one chance to make a first impression.