Flies, French Bakeries, and Happy Clients

I just walked out of a bakery in Paris. The French clearly aren’t as wound up about flies as Americans. I’m not saying they encourage flies, but they aren’t as cautious about keeping the flies away from the food.

You’ve seen it yourself, I’m sure—the way they leave the bread exposed to the elements. They place big piles of baguettes up on the counter while the door is propped open. The flies are free to visit. Of course, I haven’t noticed fly-infested bakeries or anything, but the random fly will come and go. It makes me worry—just a little—in my uptight American way.

The fly is a signal. It sets off my “germs” alarm. I worry about the germs I can’t see when I see a fly.

Are You Setting Off Alarms in Your Clients’ Heads?

What do the flies look like in your office? Here are some you may not have noticed:

  • The random file sitting on the reception desk with the client name exposed.
  • The client name mentioned over the phone within earshot of those sitting in the lobby.
  • The piles of files on your credenza with papers slipping out.
  • The mess in your kitchen area.
  • The copier with client documents spewing out in clear view of a client.
  • The pile of pink phone message slips on your desk.
  • The sticky notes around your monitor screen.
  • The paralegal who asks you a question during your client meeting and mentions a client name.
  • The associates who walk through the lobby discussing a client’s case.
  • The conversation that can be heard from the hallway while the client is being escorted to your office for a meeting.

These are the things that make your clients worry. They’re less confident in you when they see signals that set off alarms.

Get out your flyswatter. Kill those flies dead. Then sit back and enjoy a nice, germ-free almond croissant.

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