Waiting rooms are synonymous with two things: boredom and discomfort.
But they don't have to be. While you usually find waiting rooms at doctors’ offices (or worse, the dentist), your home business may need a waiting room to keep clients comfortable until you’re able to meet with them. If you run your business from your home, then that waiting room might also double as your living room.
That first look that customers have of your home-based business speaks volumes about what to expect. Here are a few ways you can outfit your home business—and it's about more than just finding the perfect chairs (though that doesn’t hurt either).
1. Show some hospitality
Studies have shown that the amount of time a person spends waiting isn't as important as their perception of the wait. A dull, drab room with no personality can make a five-minute wait feel like an hour. On the other hand, ensuring there is a full pot of hot coffee or bottles of water and a selection of snacks and reading materials will add value to your clients’ wait time.
If you run a business where multimedia entertainment could be considered professional, you might even consider leaving a game console installed on the television or providing access to the TV remote.
2. Keep an eye on things
Install security cameras in your waiting/living room to keep an eye on whether clients are getting restless. If you notice that they’re losing patience with the wait, you can take steps to let them know you’ll be with them shortly. It’s also a great way to protect yourself—make sure that visitors aren’t straying into other parts of your home. Your internet service provider may offer a video camera and 24/7 video recording service in a bundled solution.
3. Provide Wi-Fi access
It's 2018. No one goes without a smartphone. While most people have adequate data plans, providing Wi-Fi access to your home's network (or setting up a secondary network just for clients) will provide additional value to your clients’ visit. After all, who doesn't love free Wi-Fi?
Consider leaving a dedicated tablet in the waiting room with apps like Safari, Firefox, and Google Chrome installed for clients to browse the web. Set your company's site as the home page.
4. Place plants around the room
Plants have a profound effect on the feel of a room, and multiple studies have shown that the presence of plant life improves mental well-being. In addition, they might also improve air quality. Plants like aloe vera, daisies, and areca palms can remove harmful chemicals from the air.
Plants make a room feel warmer and more inviting. If you don't want the job of constant maintenance, consider purchasing small succulents to place on the tables. These plants require minimal water and sunlight and are extremely durable.
5. Give control of the lights
Many waiting rooms are dreary and dim, or they go too far in the other direction: harsh fluorescents that hurt the eyes. You can make it easy for your client to set the lights to their preference by installing smart lights in your waiting room. Install the app on a tablet and leave it in the waiting room so clients can easily control the brightness and color of the lamps.
6. Install a charging station
How many clients are going to show up to your waiting room with a fully charged phone or tablet? By installing an easily accessible area to plug in (as well as charging cords for the most common types of phones), you provide a convenient service to clients with minimal effort on your part.
Making convenience work for you
Making your clients’ waiting time comfortable can improve their opinion of your service before they even meet with you. Remember to limit the personal clutter in your home-based business space, to make sure you keep the vibe professional. Make it easy for visitors to spread the word about your company by leaving business cards on the table with your information.
Patrick Hearn is an Atlanta-based tech writer for XFINITY Home who also runs his own small business from his home. He enjoys helping people find the smartest ways to outfit their home-based businesses.