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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Great First Impressions in Business

Written By: Carol Roth | 10 Comments

The saying goes that you have one chance to make a great first impression and with customers being distracted and having more choices than dollars, first impressions are more important than ever.

I was in New York City recently and took a quick walk through Times Square. I was delighted, as retailers ranging from cosmetics purveyor Sephora to athletic retailer Foot Locker welcomed me with the warmest greetings. Even with the mass of shoppers streaming through their doors, they were upbeat, genuine and created a fantastic atmosphere that encouraged me to spend a bit more time (and money) than I normally would have been inclined to.  Even on the way out, they thanked each guest for shopping, giving a truly caring feeling, even if you hadn’t made a purchase.

While this may seem like common sense, we often forget about how important that first impression is.  Plus, we don’t always have a first interaction that involves human contact. It may be a phone system, an advertisement or a website visit that creates that first impression.

I am always in favor of honing your basic business foundation, as this is truly what lets your business succeed.  As you revisit how you make first impressions (or returning impressions), I recommend a new book written and compiled by Laurie Brown called The Greet Your Customer Manual.  It’s a great reminder about the simple things that make all of the difference.

Additionally, view the video below that I did with Fox News Live about more ways to make a great first impression.



How do you create great first impressions?  What businesses knock the first impressions (and ongoing impressions) out of the park?


Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
  • Re: “While this may seem like common sense, we often forget about how important that first impression is.”

    It does seem like common sense and yet so many people miss this. Like I’ve always said, you can train someone to do sales, but you can’t train attitude. And the wrong attitude isn’t going to get you very far.

  • There is no neutral. You’re either in drive or you’re in reverse.

    If you take away accountability, your results start moving in reverse. If you impose it, it improves. Every professional sports coach knows this.

    Pat Riley, former NBA coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, made famous the “Better Your Best” concept of taking stats and having players trying to beat their previous best performance. We, as entrepreneurs need to do the same thing.

    The ultimate good news/bad news joke is “The good news is: You’re your own boss. The bad news is: You’ve got a REAAALLLY s#!++y, dysfunctional, and incompetent boss.”

    An entrepreneur has a little accountability pressure in the fact that work needs to be done for clients, but there is none for the moment by moment, function by function basis. So the only accountability available to the entrepreneur is hitting or missing time and money targets.

    Most people try to get the job done with money targets alone. But it’s the time targets that make up the day to day that REALLY make it possible to hit the money targets. If you’re waiting till the end of the month to see if you hit your sales quota or not, and then judging yourself successful or not based on your hitting it or not, you’re too late.

    You want predictive indicators, not historic indicators. Predictive indicators of money are your use of your time. This is how you hold yourself accountable.

    Dan Kennedy talks about how the fact that he met all but one of his time targets for the day, is very predictive of what his bank balance is gonna look like at the end of the month.

    If he’d missed 4 or 5 of them he’d be annoyed with himself and want to look at why this occurred. Was it faulty assessment of how long it’d take to do something and why is that so that he doesn’t make the same mistake again, or it’s because he let something get interfere with his agenda and what did he let interfere and how can you make sure that doesn’t happen anymore?

    My new years resolution is to work to the clock in a more renegade fashion.

    This was a very cool post Carol – very cool concept. Thank you for putting it together and sharing it with everyone here!

  • sociallysmart

    Carol, This is a great article, but did you know how LONG it takes to make that first impression? A mere 27 seconds. That’s about the time it takes to walk in a room, greet someone and make the first “chit chat” greeting. Advice I give to my clients is: be conscious of what you are doing and how you are presenting yourself in those first crucial seconds. Be deliberate and intentional with what you say and how you look.

    You never get a second chance to make that first impression, as the saying goes, so be sure it’s the one you WANT to make.

    And, for more on that, your readers might be interested in

    To your success!

    – Corinne Gregory

  • caroljsroth

    And thank you for your very thoughtful response. Love the Pat Riley reference- it’s a great one to remember for benchmarking.

  • caroljsroth

    Yes, excellent point Corrine- you have to make that impression and then consistently meet or exceed that expectation. Thanks!

  • caroljsroth

    Ricardo, it does always seem to come down to the blocking and tacking, doesn’t it? You learn the foundation but once you get focused on the trick plays, you forget those basics!

  • 3djulio

    Are you serious? 27 seconds???

    so if i am going into a meeting – i should ask a question that requires a pretty long answer so we wont sit before they pass..

    wow – i got sooo confused now..

  • Hahaha How the hell did I get turned around so bass ackwards? My comment was supposed to go on the post you did where you had 60 or so people laying down their new years resolutions. Note To Self: No more blog commenting from the poker room at the Venetian in Las Vegas – they must of put something in the grey goose vodka. 🙂


  • As the best know – first impression is EVERYTHING…
    Tammy of

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