Kendall: How to 'stage' your business
Sheila Schostok mostly stages houses, working with homeowners and Realtors to make a house for sale look as appealing as possible. You know: Rearrange the furniture. Hide the knickknacks. Empty the closets. Reposition the art -- all to help a home look its best.
Decluttering is a term you'll hear.
But Schostok also stages businesses. Founder of Your Home Matters Staging & Redesign LLC, Wadsworth, she has begun to use her staging abilities to help businesses make their environment look as pleasing as possible to clients and others who may visit.
Pleasant surroundings, Schostok says, encourage customers to linger longer and perhaps buy more -- and maybe refer friends and acquaintances. Even if yours is a one-person operation that rarely has visitors, a positive environment "influences our psyche and, therefore, our productivity," she believes.
Note that we haven't broached that office staple, those sometimes leaning towers of folders many of us like to keep within easy reach -- on the desk or stacked next to visitors' chairs. Well ...
"You have to be orderly," Schostok says. "If I'm a client, or a prospect, I look at those piles of paper and wonder if you'll lose my file -- or (worse) if someone else will see it."
Those who claim to know exactly where that one piece of paper is in the stack -- and pull it out to prove their point -- may be overlooking the importance of others' perceptions. "People are challenged by clutter," Schostok says. "Everything has to have a place. You need a system. Clutter sends a message."
Schostok suggests that you "Step out of your office, then walk back in and look at the space as an outsider. Look up, down and around," she says. "Look at things you normally don't glance at. What do you feel and hear?"
Pictures are OK. "It's very nice to have family photos," Schostok says. "They give a little bit of personality to the office. 'He has a dog. I have a dog.'"
Unless yours is a true Mom 'n Pop eatery where everybody really does know your name, family pictures probably don't work in a restaurant, Schostok says. Food-related art probably does work, however.
Schostok may be new to business staging, but she clearly has some interesting ideas. With thought, some are obvious.
For example, is your space clean? "Most people will not refer their friends if your waiting room is dingy," Schostok says. "A dirty, dingy environment sends a message that the person in charge is passive."
On the other hand, "Vacuumed floors, polished desks and shiny bathrooms send a message that the person running the place is fully engaged and running an active company."
It's no surprise that cleanliness is important in restaurants, where, Schostok says, the floor plan is important as well. "Where do I go when I walk into the room?" she asks. "Make the path obvious."
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