By Their Reception, You Shall Know Them

Some receptions warm your heart, some make you sad, and some make you want to return home. Since most of my first time visits to companies have been to pitch Kwirkly or make presentations, I cynically use my waiting time at receptions to evaluate clients and make conclusions about the relationship I’m entering into. Below are the common types of receptions and my proven conclusions about them. Dear human, believe everything you read on the Internet.

1. Reception Type: Small space. Very young female receptionist. Standing Fan. Plastic chairs for guests.

Verdict:

This company is either still finding its feet or is close to getting bankrupt. Don't get too cozy with this client. The most you can do is to have a relationship with the owner of the business. If you look around, maybe above your head, there's a sticker announcing "When there's life, there's hope," so take that as an assurance that the business may become divinely profitable and your relationship with the owner of the business may come in your favour.


2. Reception type: Relatively big space. Chatty receptionist. Have seats for 6 guests. Full air-conditioner. Flowerpot (without flower). TV is on a local station.

Verdict:

Everything seems fine and accommodating. The receptionist is keeping your company. Only after a call distracts her that you realize that the TV is on a local station and you then hope that she gets off the phone so her chats can compensate for your desire for a reception with satellite TV stations. The flowerpot is without flowers. That’s the universe subtly telling you that there’s something wrong in the internal workings of the company. Either the staff aren’t well taken care off or its running cost is a pressure on its profit.

3. Reception type: Artwork on the wall. Unsmiling receptionist (bespectacled too). Magazines on the table. Cozy ambience. No TV. Digital security door.

Verdict:

You'll be impressed by the first impression. But don't get too comfortable. This is a snobbish company. Smart people work here. Get ready for meetings attended by opinionated, know-it-alls who carry airs of sophistication. Get ready to learn new corporate buzzwords. It's a paying client but the cost of unnecessary meetings and winding conversations will not be worth whatever they pay for your services. But they are good for your portfolio.

4. Reception type: Company products displayed everywhere. Big reception table. More than one receptionist. Staff members keep trooping in and out. Everyone looks like your big uncle and aunts. Man in security uniform attends to the door. (It’s likely there are framed pictures of the country’s president and/or the state’s governor is mounted on the wall).

Verdict: 

Typical old school company. Probably established before you were born. This is a good paying client but you need more than your sheer brilliant product or services to convince its senior executives that you’re the best supplier. They have a lot of suppliers, some of them with questionable interests. So you rely on luck and the goodwill of the most important decision makers to guarantee a good business relationship. Your brilliant work is secondary. A lot of committee members will constantly determine your fate. A lot of time-wasting will happen.  But O’boy, the money will compensate. “Brown envelope” will constantly haunt your existence. This client is good for your daily survival but not so good for your quality work. 

5. Reception type: Security post doubles as reception. Men and/or women in security uniform are receptionists. Compulsory guest-tag. NO TV. AC. Company calendar prominent on the wall. 

Verdict:

This one is just dreadful. It is designed to kill your good spirit. You’re going to cope with the brash uniformed receptionists and hope you’re quickly sent in for your meeting. It’s likely an old engineering or manufacturing company, with absolutely no respect for its image. Your relationship and respect for this company is going to be short, except you’re also in the same line of business or you supply items it can’t do without.  Don’t complain that the brash receptionist escorts you in to your contact. Complain that the same person suddenly show exaggerated pleasantries as you are about to sign-out of the office. He wants a change. But damn him. 

6. Reception type: Minimalist. Plain wall. Ambient light. Moderate size. Smells good. NO TV but there’s an ambient sound from hidden speakers. Attentive attendant. Well-designed furniture.

Verdict: 

This is it. A rare breed. You won’t find this often. Everything is impeccable. Nothing fluffy. This company takes its game serious and understands that first impression matters. However, its impeccable impression isn’t necessarily expressed across board. Don’t be surprised if a staff member dashes into the reception to share a wisecrack with the receptionist but only your presence will tame the conversation. You’re going to have a good relationship with this company but take note, its strength is also its curse: it’s too thorough for its own good. Yeah, some frills may delay payment or you may be attending meetings that seem more like furniture and window exhibitions. 

7. Reception type: Posters litter the wall. A framed profound quote from a dead person. Company mission statements are visible. Friendly receptionist. Flower in a vase. AC. TV, and slightly loud.

Verdict:

This company is just blah. If you want to learn how not to run a modern company, this is your class tool. Don’t take anything personal. The blandness cuts across every aspect of its business. You probably missed its dirty company cars, on your way in, and the geriatrics that attend to them. It’s an old and ugly company. If the relationship last long, your payments will sometimes be delayed by in-house strikes. You’ll more time being pissed off. But wait, the money may be good.

8. Reception type: Tall ceilings. Bank-like reception table. More than one receptionist. Large screen TV. More than one Standing AC. Busy elevator(s) by the corner.

Verdict:
This one is usually a reception before the main reception. It serves multiple companies housed in a building. Each company still has its own reception where the formality and pleasantries you’ve rehearsed are expected and tested. It will get clumsy when you’re being directed to your host company, as you may miss the elevator’s number. Get ready to share a 6-people elevator space with 10 people. Leaving the building might be a big deal, as you’ll confront the grand evil of elevators: Is the ground floor number 1 or zero? Anyway, your host company has a reason to share space with other companies. It’s either a big and successful temporarily sharing a space or the location is crucial to its business. Hang in there, just interact with them professionally and you’ll be treated the same.

PS: Current and prospective clients should note that this writer is just being mischievous. :)