Recently, an opposing team's fan was so impressed with the "culture" of a Texas A&M Aggies game, he wrote this article.  

It reminded me of how visitors to Beryl's offices always tell me how they can feel the culture--a certain "vibe" that defines us--the moment they walk in the door.  I'm often asked how we created that feeling, and my response is always that we empower employees to be themselves.

There are many small things that we do to create, sustain, and improve our company culture, and I can often see the impact they have on our financial results.  Here I'll define one aspect of company culture: 10 ways to help make visitors feel more at "home":

1. Prepare before visitors arrive. 

Quite often visitors come in to see us from out of town.  We go out of our way to make sure their travel arrangements are taken care of.  We'll send a car to the airport or pick them up personally if we can get away.  We make sure they know of some cool restaurants or sights to see if they are going to spend extra time in town.

2. Leave surprises in the hotel room.  

When we have guests stay overnight, we go to the hotel in advance and have welcome baskets put in their rooms.  It includes some Beryl swag and local treats.  We also include a handwritten note.

3. Loop in your staff.

Before visitors arrive, we distribute a memo to the entire staff explaining their background and any important or relevant facts.  We encourage employees to greet visitors and ask them questions about their businesses.

4. Dress up the lobby. 

We have a big screen TV in the lobby that shows pictures of employees, birthday congratulations, or videos of recent culture events.  Our visitors can see from the moment they walk in that this is a fun place.

5. Don't hire a "receptionist."

At Beryl, we have a "director of first impressions" on staff.  Vicki, who has her own business cards, has been with us for years.  She takes great pride in becoming friends with our visitors and making them feel comfortable.  She prepares their nametags, gives them a bottle of Beryl logo water and Beryl logo mints, and treats them like family the moment they walk in the door.

6. Make the walls sing.

We decorate the walls of our offices to reflect our culture, people, and passions.  That includes photos of our events, framed company T-shirts, drawings made by our employee's kids, and a myriad of best-places-to-work awards we've won.

7. Serve food.

No matter the time of day, we always make good food available.  Don't assume visitors have eaten.  If the food you have goes untouched, people on your team will always be happy with leftovers.

8. Make introductions to the big wigs.

Regardless of who visitors are coming to meet, you'll make a great impression if you bring your top executives into the room, if for nothing more than a quick greeting.  Show your visitors how important they are.

9. Wrap up a send-off gift.

To cap off a wonderful visit, we send guests off with a Beryl logo bag that we stuff with more Beryl swag and a bottled water for the road.  

10. Smile.

Every employee should greet your visitors with direct eye contact and a smile.  We don't teach this.  If you treat your employees well and make them happy, they'll do the same for everyone they interact with.