When driving into the office, have you thought about what your hair, clothes, demeanor, and smile say about you? Are you dressed like you are going to a business meeting, hippy retreat, or slumber party at a friend’s house? Your business image comes from your marketing presence, personal presence, and office environment. There are many parts of your business that the first impression you have no control over. Is your receptionist cheerful on the phone? Has the lawn been moved and landscaping been kept up? Does your website and business cards show you as being a professional or have typos all over things?
What is the image you want to set to the community? Is this midwifery practice sloppy or professional and courteous? Midwives needs to spend time thinking about how their make up looks, how their hair style and attire speak to customers about them. Everyone is judging, especially on the first impression. What are past customers and other practices saying about your midwife business?
Every business owner knows that first impressions are important, but you may not know just how little time you have to actually make one. Within the first seven seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are — and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness. Especially with midwifery, trust is key. Families are bringing their precious baby into the world. They want to know that they can trust you.
That isn’t enough time to talk about your history, charm your new contact, or make up for any initial blunders. And entrepreneurs who are making a pitch to potential investors or customers don’t have the luxury of banking on a second meeting to clear up any misconceptions. So what can you do to make a better first impression? There are different situations when making a first impression counts, but let’s start with the most traditional: meeting someone in person, whether it’s in a client meeting or at a networking event.
Dress and groom appropriately. This should go without saying, but people will judge you on your looks long before they judge your words or actions. After all, it only takes a fraction of a second to start making snap judgments, and Dr. Marcia Sirota says we do it all the time: “It’s no problem for us to imagine that we understand why a person has taken a particular course of action. We don’t really know; we make a guess based on our imagination, past experiences or wishful thinking.”
What does your office look like? When families are sitting in the waiting room for their consult with you, first impressions are being formed even before meeting you. What is the reading material like in your book shelf? Are their alternative, empowering books or standard medicalized childbirth education resources? How clean are floors? When was the last time office was dusted? Is the furniture stained and clean and comfortable? Is there background music and incense or complaining staff talking to each other at the front desk?
We want families to feel calm, comfortable, and excited about being in your office. Creating a branding image helps with your online presence, testimonials, Facebook postings, blogs, and website resources. First impression during consult are key to a successful midwifery business. Litigation lowers when patients trust you and have good first impression. Higher patient volumes and repeat scheduled visits after the consults happen when first impressions are positive. Next time you are feeling like you don’t want to take a shower this morning, put on a smiling face, or place some mascara on, think of what the client sees from you. Are you giving image of I don’t care about myself and this practice? Look your best at all times. Especially in small communities, you never know when someone will recognize you at the grocery store, church event, or soccer game for your kids. Have a consistent image of professionalism and it will pay off big in time.