4 Elements of a Waiting Room Refresh

By: Randy Hernandez | Chief Marketing Officer

Waiting areas set the stage for your customers’ experience of your business. Ideally, your customers feel welcome and appreciated from the moment they step in the door, especially since while they wait your customers are noticing every detail.

Consider the messages being sent in the following scenarios.

  • Imagine you are sick and need to see a doctor. When you arrive at the office, you spend 20 minutes filling out paperwork in an ancient chair that is beyond uncomfortable. You notice dust on the frames of the faded art work. The magazines are from last year. How does this influence your feelings about the doctors in this medical practice?
  • Now imagine you and a group of friends are waiting for a table at a new restaurant. You are standing and wishing you could order a drink while you wait, but there isn’t really a space for your group. Are you likely to give up and leave?
  • You are at the salon waiting for a haircut. The seats are so close together that other customers are practically sitting in your lap. Will you remember this when you need to make your next appointment?

What message is your waiting area sending to your clients? Does it represent the highest level of customer service your small business can offer? Treat your customers right with the most welcoming and comfortable waiting space possible.

Here are 4 elements to consider for a waiting room refresh.

Colors

The nature of your business and brand may determine which colors you use in your waiting area. A medical or dental practice may decide to choose soothing warm tones to help patients relax or may decide to go with cool colors to illustrate brightness and cleanliness.

A spa or salon may decide upon a palette of colors that reflect the mission of the spa. For example, Pranaa Ayurveda Spa in Plano is based in the Indian tradition of Ayurveda, a holistic approach to healing. Pranaa’s color scheme is warm and earthy, with lots of oranges and tans, to reflect the philosophy of their approach. On the other hand, Cooper Spa in North Dallas is focused on clean living and fitness which is communicated through a white and blue color scheme.

Websites like Pinterest and Houzz are a fun, easy way to explore how other businesses are using color in their waiting areas. Take a look at how similar small businesses express their brand and set the tone for their customers with color and art in their waiting areas. Once you have a list of ideas, you might consider consulting with an interior designer to make a plan.

Space

Your small business may have limited space for a waiting area, but smart design can help maximize even a tiny area. Think carefully about how your customers will use the waiting space. If you are a restaurant or bar that often fills up and requires a short wait, perhaps a few tall tables and a drink service are a chance to not only accommodate waiting customers but also increase sales. If your customers will be seated, comfortable furniture is a must and layout should offer a little elbow room.

All small businesses are required to design for accessibility.1 For a medical practice, special mobility requirements may drive the design and layout of your waiting area. According to Healthcare Design Magazine, practices and hospitals are also seeking to provide more family and patient-friendly spaces through flexible design and right-sized “residential-type” furniture.2

Adequate lighting and mirrors can make a small space seem larger, too. Keep in mind that lighter colors will make the space seem larger. On the other hand, if you have a large space, darker colors can make it seem cozier.

Ultimately, the comfort of your customers should be your highest priority, so making sure each customer has enough space is critical. A smart design and keeping wait times as short as possible should help manage the space you have.

Cleanliness

A waiting customer is a watching customer. Even a small amount of dust or litter will make an impression. Chipped paint, torn wallpaper, or stains on carpet and upholstery sends a warning to your customers. The perception that your business is dirty will automatically diminish your customers’ satisfaction and could even damage your reputation.

Whatever your industry, customers will appreciate a clean waiting area, but for some this is an absolute requirement. Medical and dental practices must be especially mindful of the expectation of the best sanitation. This is an indication of the care you will give your patients. Spa and salon owners, your clients also expect a safe and sanitary environment. Start building this trust as a client waits or fills out paperwork. Restaurant and bar owners, customers are watching you, too. If the waiting area is dirty, what does the kitchen look like?

If your paint is chipped, your carpet is worn, or your furniture is stained or torn, it is time for a refresh that includes repainting and replacing anything that is showing wear. Light fixtures should also be clean and intact. Art should look fresh and new. Sometimes prints fade in strong light, so when you replace the art consider a UV protective glass in the frame.

Thoughtful Extras

Since the very best customer service gives your small business a competitive edge, why not add a few thoughtful extras to your waiting area? Thoughtful additions could include:

  • Charging stations for mobile electronic devices
  • Up-to-the-minute magazines
  • Educational materials and informational brochures
  • A water station with infused water, think cucumber and mint or thinly sliced lemons
  • A selection of premium coffees and teas
  • Fruit or other healthy snacks
  • Coloring sheets, crayons, or wikki-stixs for children

For restaurants and bars, perhaps the hosting staff or a dedicated server can take drink orders if the wait is longer than ten to fifteen minutes.

If your small business is making the most of your waiting area, it is also taking advantage of an opportunity to communicate your brand to customers and build customer loyalty. These upgrades can set you apart from the competition, but they will require funding. If you decide to hire a designer or make purchases to improve your waiting area, consider a merchant cash advance from Jet Capital. Our fast, flexible business funding solutions are great for a renovation project that will keep your small business growing.

Resources

1. The American with Disabilities Act Checklist for Readily Achievable Barrier Removal, Checklist for Existing Facilities, version 2.1 (August, 1995)

2. A. DiNardo. (2014, April). Waiting Rooms: How to Design to Impress. http://www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/article/waiting-rooms-how-design-impress


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