I’ve just had an extraordinary week. My eldest started school. It’s huge – the fear of being able to find new friends, the panic at not knowing what goes where and the hope that the teacher will be awesome. Yep, it’s tough on the parents!
My son was fine, completely and utterly content to wave us goodbye and go off to begin his educational journey. All while we still hovered nervously at the door.
So why was he so happy to be there? There’s a few reasons that this small child didn’t feel like a ‘visitor’ in a strange place, but it felt like home, and I think there’s a huge opportunity to take those reasons and apply them to visitors to our places of business:
Firstly the teachers greet each student as they come in the door – with enthusiasm. It makes a huge difference when you feel wanted and appreciated by the people you meet when you go somewhere new. They even sent him a Christmas card saying they were looking forward to seeing him in the new year. How are you welcoming your visitors, and showing your appreciation that they are there to share the day with you? Can you follow up on that at different times of the year?
2. Preparation and setting expectations
There was a lead up to the big first day. It made all the difference. Friday afternoon sessions at the school to familiarise himself with the teachers, the routine and the layout of the place were involved. There was even a welcome barbecue for students and parents. Everyone has to learn to trust new people, new things, new places. So are there ways you can introduce your place or your business to your customer before they visit you? If your website or brochure is an introduction, does it give a good picture of what people can expect when they arrive?
3. Fun and exploration
The first part of the day at my son’s school is called ‘Exploring time’. They pick a subject they want to learn more about that week and they go for it. It encourages responsibility for their own learning, developing their interests, and it’s fun. Are there things you could be doing that engage people’s interests, allow them to explore deeper and have a lot of fun?
It’s already been a great experience for me to see the difference starting school is making to my boy’s life. Proving that we never stop learning, it’s taught me a few things about myself as well (like how organised I need to be in the morning!). If school continues to be as fun, provide that sense of belonging and set clear expectations, I think this boy’s school days are going to be truly awesome. And don’t we all want to experience that everyday, whether at work or visiting new places?