They say that good is the enemy of great. When it comes to corporate tours, it seems like barely acceptable is the enemy of good, and great is nowhere in sight.
I cannot count the number of times I have visited a customer, vendor, or peer for a tour and been utterly disappointed. The hardest thing to do is get your target audience to come see you – in person. So if you get that rare opportunity with someone you’re hoping to build a professional relationship with, be sure to make the most of it.
A great tour communicates culture, shares a vision, and tells a great story. Every company should think about how to give a great tour for their story.
If you’re a disruptive company, display that disruption in your tour. If you are a company that is proud of your culture, highlight that pride in your tour. If you are a brand-conscious company, show off your brand. No matter what you do, please do not skip the tour and do not give a haphazard, poorly thought-out tour. That is how you waste an opportunity.
When we built our new headquarters in 2018, we planned the entire office around the ideal of creating a customer experience. We wanted the building to show people what we do and how we do it, and to make our very large, very complicated business of building Wind for Industry projects approachable. We typically give visitors an office tour and a yard tour. We have standardized these tours and we practice them. We have thought about the words we use, the route we take, and the experience we want to create for our business partners and community members.
A lesson we have learned that we did not expect, is that some of the most valuable tours are given to some of the people we didn’t design the tours for.
This weekend I gave a tour to the 80-year-old mother of one of our employees. Seeing the excitement in her eyes at both the company and the fact that her daughter works here was valuable to the employee, and consequently it was valuable to our company.
We give great tours to our employees’ families. We give great tours to local students and to government officials. We give great tours to everyone we can, and that makes us a better company.
If you want to build a great tour, I suggest the following:
- Figure out what story you want to tell; debate this vigorously
- Figure out what route and what dialogue you want to use to do a 15-minute-or-less tour
- Do the same for a more in-depth 30-minute tour that shows off your product
- Train the people who will give the tour and make them practice over and over
- Give the tour to everyone you can, and constantly reevaluate
When you give great tours, you will see a difference in the way your meetings go after the tours. You will see a change in the way business partners and customers view you. You will realize the value in taking 15 minutes to tell your great story. And you will probably have a whole lot of fun giving tours to the people you never expected they would be given to. I know I do.
Jereme Kent is the CEO of One Energy.