Does your place of work host visitors? Do you feel like every time a group is coming to visit that you give a different tour of your offices or facility? Or do you offer a standardized experience? Often it depends on who is giving the tour.
My company is housed in an 80,000 square foot produce distribution center, including 20,000 square feet of offices, and we get visitors often—either customers or suppliers or friends in the industry. This week we are gearing up for the largest annual U.S. produce trade show at the Anaheim Convention Center (not far from our offices). Since we are the geographically closest produce warehouse, we have more than a dozen visitors and tours scheduled.
As a company, we have always put a lot of effort into planning and organizing special events. In fact, we consider all “visitors” a special event. From experience we know that the effort we put in ahead of time to plan visits and engage all the right players in our company will pay off in terms of a positive visitor experience.
Here’s how we do it. Several weeks before any visit, we have a planning meeting where the host (whomever has invited the visitor) meets with a team and reviews the plan. We hammer out things like arrival time, whether they get a warehouse tour (or not), whether they get an office tour (or not), who they will meet with and what kind of refreshments we want to serve them. Do they get a level 1, level 2 or level 3 tour? What gift do they get when they leave? (We know everyone is a consumer of our product, and we want them to leave with a memory they can refer back to when they get home).
Our number one goal is to treat every visitor to our facility like a visitor to our home. We put their name on the marquee when they enter the lobby, so they immediately feel welcome. (Most of our visitors ask to have their photo taken in front of the marquee—they get excited to see their name in lights!)
Our meeting room is always prepped with refreshments, notepads and paper. Sometimes our meetings are at one of the two community tables we have in our offices; we meet there so visitors can feel the vibe of the company and are not closed in by a conference room with a door.
Another best practice we have—that truly falls in line with our company culture—is that everyone in the office gets introduced by name to all visitors. It makes our team members feel important, and it allows our visitors to see that we are truly a family and everyone is valued.
We have checklists, we send out company announcements the day we’re welcoming people, and it’s like “all hands on deck” to greet our visitors.
How does that pay off?
Visitors get a fabulous tour experience. Almost every single person who visits Frieda’s comments that “everyone who works at Frieda’s seems so happy!” They walk away with a feeling that they are important and that we value our business relationship with them (and we DO!). In fact, one of our best practices is that we want either my sister Jackie or me personally to say hello to every visitor. Nothing says “family business” with hands-on management more than a “hello” from one of the owners.
But the benefit has been that our team members feel more engaged. More valued. More important. They oftentimes get to meet our biggest clients and our most important growers. It works especially well when a grower visits and we take them into accounting and can say, “Patricia and Millie are the ones who make sure your bills get paid quickly.” Both the grower and our staff are happy to put a name with a face.
So, if you have visitors to your facility or business, perhaps you should consider standardizing your process for giving tours while still conveying that personal touch. I have a consultant who always says, “Systems and Processes: there shouldn’t be 10 or 100 ways to do something. There should be one way—your way. The best way.”
It may take a little more time up front, but what I’ve learned over the years is that the more time we invest before an event in the planning and getting alignment with our team, the better the performance and user experience. This applies not only to tours. It’s true for any project or event.