The First Five Minutes

Carlene Calkins
Carlene Calkins
Billing Assistant

One would think that the first five minutes of a successful client-agency relationship are between the Account Executive and the client or perhaps with the COO and the client. Wrong. The moments building up to this belong to the “Director of First Impressions.”    


The Director of First Impressions is the face one sees as they walk into the building each and every time. They’re the delegate, the people person, the cheerleader representing the team, and their actions should be a reflection of the Company as a whole even if it’s only for five minutes. Setting the tone may break the ice if one is nervous or anxious when they walk in the door. Since time is short, it’s the responsibility of the Director of First Impressions to make the most of this brief encounter. Even though there are many tasks associated with this position, these first five minutes with the client are the most important.  Everything else is secondary.


Step one, just smile. Experts say that a smile can change your mood. It doesn’t take much effort and is most often reciprocated. Give all of your attention; welcome everyone by asking their name and introducing yourself. Look one in the eye and ask how you can be of assistance. Imagine standing near a front desk as if one were invisible and listening as someone explains every detail about last night’s date to their best friend. Is your blood pressure rising or do you just have that sour taste in your mouth at this point? Being warm and inviting leaves a pleasant and lasting impression.


Don’t let the client, or potential client, sit in a lobby chair and stare out the window or down the hall while they wait. You have a voice so use it. A great topic of conversation for most people is the weather. If it’s good, or bad, there’s always something to be said for it. Next step, offer a beverage if possible. No, not that kind of beverage! A cup of coffee or a bottle of water is perfect. Better yet, if a long standing client returns for a visit, go the extra mile; dig deep in your brain and remember the small details. Knowing how they take their coffee can be quite impressive when you hand it to them. An act of kindness such as this is like baking a cake for a new neighbor. It shows that you care enough to take the time and effort to make their wait as comfortable as possible.


At times the Director of First Impressions can be much more than meets the eye. A client realizes in their five minutes that they aren’t quite as prepared for their meeting as they thought and crisis mode enters. Just like a genie coming out of a bottle, never fear, the Director is near!  Ten copies collated and stapled coming right up. Before your eyes, you start seeing how simple gestures change an expression or body language. A tense face is now calmer, more relaxed and a first impression of the Company has been made. The way has been paved for getting down to business and making creative and financial decisions.


It’s important to show that you are more than just the person who answers the phones and it’s quite simple really. Everything you need to know you were taught at a very early age. Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. Be kind, polite, courteous, friendly, helpful and attentive. The next time you see a client remember these tips and it’s guaranteed they will remember you too.


Please leave a comment regarding this blog or share a memorable experience where a Director of First Impressions made a difference to you.

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