There’s a phrase beloved of dads and people holding garage sales: perfectly good.
PG means an item that is no longer fit for normal human use: the microwave where only half the timer display still works, the out of date frozen curry, the underpants with stretched elastic.
It stems from the belief that with a touch of the ol’ DIY fix-it magic, your item will be good for another decade of trusty service.
It’s easy to mock this dadful mindset, yet on a personal level it’s worthy. You probably know people who combine a public zeal for sustainability with a love of cheap-but-only-wear-once clothing that will be landfill or strangling turtles in no time. Keeping things longer makes you a better person.
When Old’n’Dirty Blindness Strikes
In your business, though, the Perfectly Good mentality can send a crusty message. A tragic side-effect of the PG mindset is Old’n’Dirty Blindness. As a PG biz owner you still feel the same love for each asset as when it first came out of the box.
“I just bought that thing a couple of years ago it’s practically new,” you think.
No you didn’t. One business owner year is three normal human years, because your mind is tied up with cash flow worries and the time whizzes by at warp drive speed. Meanwhile your business things get tired and mangy.
You Can’t See The Grime
Your signs are peeling. Your computers are slow and the keyboards oily. Desks bear orange testament to generations of microwaved laksa lunches. Your walls are smothered in corny office humor printouts. These surroundings are not ideal for your staff but they can deal with it.
But if that all that human debris is facing your clients, your business is in Ol’ Dirty Mode.
There’s a reason commercial-grade carpets and furnishings exist. The general public are destructive and messy. The $29 Eames replica chairs you buy for your new café* will look great until the end of month 1, after which they’ll be reduced to plastic shrapnel by SUV-sized prams and the bored munching of a thousand French Bulldogs.
Even if you buy the heavy duty stuff, it doesn’t last forever. One hotel we used to stay in a lot is rated as five star but their furniture and décor is decades old. You can feel the spirits of a thousand long-gone guests who sat in that chair before you, its surfaces laminated with decades of human residue. It’s really scungy and off-putting.
We moved to a 3.5 star place that was built last year. You get less bowing and scraping but it feels so fresh and clean.
When you’re at your business every day, the dirty bits are absolutely invisible to you, but to fresh customer eyes: ew.
Flash! Aaa-argh! And Other Digital Dirt
Crusty vibes don’t just come from physical dirt. There’s digital dirt, a convenient way to let people know your business is out of date without them seeing your premises.
Your website has Flash animations, or rather a browser security warning where they used to be. The most recent item on your ‘News’ page is from 2014. You have three different Instagram accounts set up by long-gone employees, account names with ugly underscores and “Pty Ltd” or “LLC”.
And payment systems, my God. One business I know asks people to send in their credit card details by email. To their office network which runs on Windows XP. The Russian hackers are going thank you for creating this free money buffet, this will save us lots of time.
It’s All About The Walk-In
If you’re feeling your business is getting a little crusty, where do you start? Where the customer starts. It’s important to understand how perception theatre works.
Our business is in events and business theater – we do product launches, awards nights, AGMs, conferences, that sort of thing. You want people to arrive and think: wow, this is going to be a great event. Because that perception becomes reality.
They make that call pretty much the moment they walk into the room. So you want them to walk in and see this:
Rather than this, which says: Uh-oh! Long Night Of Speeches Ahead!
You do that with the stage design, lights, music and media. But you don’t have an unlimited budget, so you arrange the cool stuff right where they’ll see it all the moment they walk in.
Anything on the back walls is a waste of money because nobody sees it until after their expectations are set in cement. It’s the same with real estate openings, restaurants, and quality retail. What’s the first mental snapshot they take? Because that’s most of their impression formed right there.
Find someone you trust to come around, take the exact physical steps that your customers take when they arrive for the first time, and ask them for a brutally honest opinion. Does this feel like a place I want to spend my money? Or does it make me reach for the hand sanitizer?
Showbiz tip that also works in business settings: good lighting can cover up all kinds of ugliness.
Or just check this 13 Step list for some of the warning signs.
Unlucky 13 Signs That Your Business May Be Trapped In Another Era
- Fax number on your business cards
- No mobile website
- Filing cabinets of incoming and outgoing invoices
- Signs with your logo and your web address like people can’t work that out
- Designated parking spaces for management
- Cab vouchers
- Like Us On Facebook! signs
- Account managers send clients email ‘humor’
- Fake plants
- Casual Friday
- Jars of sugary treats on the reception desk
- Payments on Diners Club
How many did you tick?
0 Maybe that’s too few. Loosen up hipsters.
1-3 No cause for immediate alarm but be vigilant over the next few years.
4-8 Getting into the danger zone, get in someone from the current decade to analyze your systems and decor before you end up here.
9-12 Throw everything out, get the empty shell steam-cleaned, then build new premises
13 Client Liaison would like to discuss your office as a video clip location.
Got any other items for the list? Something in your crusty workplace been bugging you? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments folks.
Shout out to my friend Meryl from Amicus corporate interiors, she sees a lot of pre-renovation office crustiness and brought some fine suggestions for the list.
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