You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that most women say they hate going to an advisor’s office – even if they are already a client.
Take a minute to think about what a woman experiences when they go to the typical financial advisors’ office (the subtleties of décor may be lost on some men). But first consider this, women don’t even want to be there – if they had their preference you would come to them. If you understand nothing else about women – know that they are as stressed about not having enough time as they are about their finances! However, assume they do come to you. What do they see? As often as not, there’s no receptionist – just a phone asking you to buzz through — or if there is a receptionist, she is probably an administrator too, and she points to a chair and asks to “wait.” Not a good first impression and not a very inviting experience.
Once they are actually directed to your office, they will usually find two chairs facing a large imposing desk, a computer and bookshelves filled with books on investing. If it’s a really high-end establishment, there will be lots of mahogany and large-scale furniture. Which begs the question for women, “what are you saying about yourself with all this furniture”? Success or intimidation? Alternatively if they aren’t asked into the hallowed halls of your office – they are ushered to a corporate meeting room. Inevitably, it is cold and sparsely furnished, certainly not oozing of personal warmth or conducive to intimate financial discussions.
So what’s a better alternative?
What does a female friendly office look like? No – it does not have to be pink or have chintz curtains – but it does have to be inviting.
Here are 7 steps that will make your office more female friendly and create a warm and inviting environment where women will feel welcome, comfortable and important.
Make sure the reception area is “manned” (that is, you have a receptionist), and that the area is bright and cheery, furnished with attractive and inviting (not imposing) furniture.Include a small sitting area just begging for two people to talk and share a cup of tea or coffee – use proper china, not paper cups.If space allows, a mini kitchen with stools at the peninsula or island is a wonderful addition. Small “designer” cookies or fresh fruit on a china plate are a lovely touch.The washroom should be close by and also elegantly decorated with individual hand soaps, bright white cotton hand towels. Hand cream, hair spray and tissues are always welcome.Your meeting room might include elegant stuffed chairs in light colours with ottomans, a couple of small side tables with fresh cut flowers and complementary art work on the wall.Music should be subtle not intrusive. Opt for classical rather than “elevator” music. Make sure it is soothing and relaxing.And finally, in case anyone is ever kept waiting – it is far more tolerable if there are current magazines or beautiful coffee table books available, and of course connectivity and free access to a computer.
If you think this is over the top or you think “who goes to that much trouble?”, there was also a time when banks were only open 10:00 to 3:00, when you had to stand to do your banking instead of sit and where you had to go to the bank to get your mortgage. All of that has changed because it makes it easier for clients. Point made.
Last but not least – if you are totally out of your element in thinking about how to decorate your office to be female friendly, have a woman whose taste you admire and respect help you – or better yet, spend a few bucks and use a decorator.
To learn more about becoming female friendly, visit www.strategymarketing.ca and take one of our courses – Retaining Female Clients, Acquiring Female Clients (available soon) and Developing a Female Friendly Practice (available soon).