I’ve been designing, project managing and delivering sales offices for my clients for near on 20 years and while I know what goes into the best of sales offices, I also have some pretty strong ideas on what should be jettisoned. Here we go:
1. Two cheap laminated desks staffed by bored guys with bad comb overs and stained ties
I grew up in Newcastle. This piece of information is vital to understanding how I found my way into design career. About every 4 months from the age of 8 to my early teens, my parents used to load my sister and I up in the Commodore and drive slowly through new land subdivisions, gawping at the new homes (Oh look, split level! This one has cathedral ceilings!) while chowing down on Kentucky Fried Chicken. Occasionally the hand brake would be ripped on and we’d all bundle into a display home. But before we got through to the shagpile dream home, we had to run the gauntlet of the two brown laminate nasty-cheap desks. Staffed by bored sales people who barely looked up from the copy of The Newcastle Herald to acknowledge you or barked “Are interested in buying? OR NOT?” With a mosaic of A3 black and white Xerox printed house and land packages taped up on a single wall. These so- bad-they-should-be-spanked sales offices were burnt on my retina and to this day, every sales office I work on is to avenge the ugliness I encountered on those formative Saturdays of my tween years. Hey, I know there are nobler causes out there but I reckon I think championing of beautiful spaces is right up there with upholding synchronised swimming as a legitimate Olympic sport.
2. Cheap and oh-so-nasty visitor chairs
I love a good, solid yet comfy chair. I think making a visitor to your home or place of business sit on an uncomfortable, hard, plastic chair is giving a subtle “please, can you just buggar off” vibe. So I am mad keen to make sure all my sales offices have generously portioned visitor chairs that are upholstered and encourage the visitor to linger, able to ask the questions they need of the sales consultant and spend the time to deep dive into the home or land buying process. There are always budget considerations, but for the love of all things shiny, don’t skimp on comfortable chairs for your visitors.
3. Criminal lack of storage
We’ve all been in those sales offices where manila folders threaten to block out the sun, they are stacked so high on desks, or where lever arch folders have formed en-mass and are now forming barriers that would deter the hardiest of save-the-wilderness protester. Then there’s the patchwork of sticky notes tacked up on any and all available surfaces, photos of cats / kids or motivational quotes sticky taped EVERYWHERE! And don’t even get me started on the back corner cave of cup-a-soup and Cruskit packets, burn out kettle and funky smelling sandwich press. I hate clutter. Haaaaate it, I tell you. It is one of my mandatories in sales office design: practical and plentiful storage. It really can transform the looks of a sales office from something that looks like a tip to a space that is welcoming and pleasant to be in. It does not need to cost a bomb and you can do clever things like secret cupboards hidden behind walls with graphics over, like I have done for Metricon. It just needs a thorough audit of the items that need to be stored and then clever solutions designed into the sales office layout to cope with banishing the clutter.
4. Touch screens or even standard monitors that aren’t working
Is there anything sadder in a sales office than the blank monitor with a blue-tacked sign over the face reading “out-of-order’? Or worse: no note letting you know it is on the fritz so you stand there like a complete muppet pushing the screen until a sales consultant looks up and yells “OI, IT’S NOT WORKING!!!!” Look, once the investment has been made in the screen and software to give you the mind bending 37,486 combinations of floorplan layouts you can conceivably pick, the onus is on you to maintain those screen like it is your firstborn. So much time and cold hard cash goes into setting up the programs that run on those screens, so your investment needs to pay for itself by actually working and enhancing the customer experience.
5. Not considering the customer experience. THE WORST!
Yeah, I love taking a brief from some clients where they rattle off what they need in a sales office like consultant desk, a place for the consultants to stash their Cruskits, a bar fridge, an all in-one-business machine, a stack of acrylic hangers in the window to display home and land packages….and I quietly interrupt mid-brief and ask “What about your customers…what are they wanting to see and understand when they come to your sales office?” You see times, have changed where it is no longer about what you want to show your customers – hell, most of them have been on-line anyway to see your offering. It is now about giving people a compelling reason to shake off the track suits and uggs – or not – and come and visit your sales office. The smart sales office will have this customer journey totally mapped up as well as creating an environment that is representative of the development offer and intended quality or the project. Because at this stage, people are not buying a block of land or a house, they are buying a dream. So the sales office better match that expectation from the customer point of view point of view!
Ok, on the tunes list this week, I want to do a throwback to a song that I was really digging back in my tween years that I listed to on my walkman (ask your parents) while in the back of the Commodore hitting up display villages.
See you next week!