By Kathryn Weber
It’s clear there’s a new paradigm in business. Today’s clients and customers are savvy, attuned and educated with a sensitivity (some might say allergy) to businesses that don’t offer them a unique business experience. They want better service, higher-quality products and more personalization.
In short, today’s consumers are looking for an experience. This means businesses must sell both their tangible and intangible products and services much like Starbucks sells both drinks and its signature café environment.
The smart business pays more attention to today’s consumer sensitivities and what appeals to consumers, and creates a business that thrives by meeting those demands. It also looks out for the employee. The workplace is an experiential environment, and devotion to a positive and thriving workplace that supports employees’ well-being is the new standard.
The employee and customer experience shift is the new business un-usual in the West. In the East, it would be called feng shui.
Feng shui, often referred to as the ancient art of placement, is frequently called upon to explain a myriad of business problems from poor employee relationships to sagging sales. It’s also used as a measuring stick for finding office space to help businesses prosper.
An article published in the New York Times last fall explained how many commercial real estate companies are tasked with finding a suitable workspace that goes way past the parameters of square feet and the number of offices.
The rising regard of feng shui and Asian business influence means that offices are now being selected by location, surrounding environment, auspicious views and even smells. It’s thought that negative energies in the form of ugly views or poor office arrangement will silently undermine the success of an office or retail establishment. A positive environment, by contrast, will support happy employees and bring sales.
Considering the growth and proliferation of this 5,000-year-old art, it might have something to offer businesses today. After all, businesses need every edge they can get in a tough economy, making a thorough investigation a worthwhile investment.
But what if a feng shui consultant isn’t handy? Not to worry; simple assessments can be made by the feng shui layperson who will help you discover if your business is sending out negative signals, if it’s unsupportive for your employees or of it’s the kind that could make a customer cringe and turn on a heel.
Appeal to the senses.
A beneficial office and store environment has a balance of light and dark, and is neither too bright nor too dim. Like a plant that needs all the elements (water, sunlight and soil) in the right ratios, so, too, does a business.
A boutique retail establishment was striving for a relaxing environment, but the dim lighting made it feel like it lacked vitality – a poor recipe for a health-related business. It couldn’t afford to be so dim that customers had a hard time seeing products or reading literature.
Smell is another consideration. In a day spa or coffee shop, smells are wonderful, but if you own an auto parts store, the smell of vanilla candles is out of place. The smell should be appropriate, but not overpowering, and it should smell fresh.
Another key consideration is the feeling a place of business gives. Have an objective person visit your space, and ask that person what he or she thinks your space says. For instance, does it say chic boutique or cold, clinical retailer? Does the space seem vibrant and alive or depressed and struggling?
Read your space.
Although it may seem like a stretch to read a space, it really isn’t. People do it all the time. Think about some of your favorite stores and the businesses you like least to visit.
If they have torn furniture and broken door handles, and you’ve noticed a decline in clientele, it could be the deferred maintenance that’s sending customers signals to go elsewhere.
Some of the most successful businesses keep up with maintenance, so don’t let cleaning slide. Work to update and improve the premises on a regular basis. This keeps the energy of the business fresh and alive – and the customers coming back.
Energize your office.
A key concept of feng shui is keeping a space energized and refreshed. When an office or retail business is neglected, patrons neglect to go there. This is because we take in a business through our eyes first. Our eyes tell us if the space – and by association, the business – is thriving or not.
A common feng shui trick is to place the business name up high on a wall upon entering. This raises the customers’ eyes and makes them look up to the business.
A feng shui taboo is the rug with the business’ name on the ground that symbolizes customers walking on the business’ name.
In standard offices, it’s important to activate the lucky corner. This is the corner that’s diagonal to the door. It’s the place everyone looks at when walking in a doorway. Placing a plant, a vase of flowers, a tall lamp or even awards is a way to infuse the office with visual vitality.
Another critical concept is open space.
For executives, it’s essential that the path ahead of them is clear and open for opportunities. That’s what makes facing a wall such poor feng shui arrangement. When office workers or executives are sitting with their back to the door and facing a wall, it means opportunities are blocked or escape them. Desks should always be arranged in the center of the room facing a door so as to invite opportunity.
From real estate moguls to large pharmaceutical companies, American businesses are actively employing feng shui to help them get or retain their company’s business edge. Given the current business climate, even the slightest advantage could be the deciding factor between businesses that thrive and those that don’t – and make this an edge worth walking.
© K Weber Communications LLC 2002-2011
Kathryn Weber is the publisher of the Red Lotus Letter Feng Shui E-zine and certified feng shui consultant in classical Chinese feng shui. Kathryn helps her readers improve their lives and generate more wealth with feng shui. For more information and to receive her FREE Ebook “Easy Money – 3 Steps to Building Massive Wealth with Feng Shui” visit www.redlotusletter.com and learn the fast and fun way how feng shui can make your life more prosperous and abundant!
Copyright Kathryn Weber. All rights reserved.