We have an important potential client visiting tomorrow so I’ve lassoed the troops and we just cleaned the office. One of the younger guys asked, “Des, this company will be buying our technology, not our office space. So tell me again why we’re cleaning the office before they arrive.” To which one of the other guys said, “Tell them your story Des.” Here goes.
My first job out of school was working for a large computer company. A few years into the gig, I had an assignment on the New England District staff, one of five guys working for the District manager who managed two dozen Branches.
One of our tasks was for the District Manager and his staff to go to each branch once a year and do an all-day review of everything: sales forecasts, accounts receivable, quality of service, installations, inventory etc. The first time I did one of these reviews, when we arrived at the office, I headed straight for the conference room for the presentations to begin.
But the boss said, “No, Des, we start in the back room at the loading dock, work our way back though the inventory room, the engineering area, then the kitchen and bathroom, then the Sales room, and then the conference room.” When I protested, he said, “Des, you’ll learn that a company that has a neat loading dock, an organized inventory room, a clean kitchen, a bathroom with paper towel and soap dispensers full – those companies will have a clean sales forecast, an account receivable that is not delinquent, a low number of old service calls, clean code, etc.”
I thought by boss crazy. But I quickly learned him to be right.
To this day, when I go to a company to “check it out” (usually as a potential supplier; sometimes as a company we’re going to buy) I always ask for an impromptu walk around the facility first. And I’ve found a direct correlation between the cleanliness of the office and the quality of the product I’m buying.
Maybe my believing “clean office equals clean business” makes me an odd duck. But whenever we have a visitor we have to presume that he/she might be an odd duck too.