As our Traverse City teams settle into 1610 Barlow, there have been notable problems with the visitor “lobby” and check-in process for guests to access our offices. Earlier this summer, Bill Palladino from Taste the Local Difference approached us to discuss the problems created by the poorly designed 1610 Barlow lobby. Our lobby contains little signage to direct building visitors, the entry way feels more like a passthrough, and a series of glass walls pulls guests’ eyes into the warehouse, often causing them to miss the sign-in table for Cherry Capital Foods and Tamarack Holdings. It’s almost impossible for us to monitor this situation, since it largely stays out of sight and out of mind. This creates confusion and frustration for those involved in the check-in process and ultimately reflects poorly on all of the businesses located here.
We currently use a phone tree system that rings to Patty Sherman, and then to every Department Head’s phone. Once someone answers, they become responsible for welcoming each guest. However, there have been dozens of instances where a guest pushes the button, it rings through the phone tree, and no one answers. In these instances, guests are ultimately sent to voicemail, which leaves them stranded in the lobby, listening to an automated message, coming from a box that provides no other way to contact the person they are here to visit. At this point, if someone from Taste the Local Difference is in the vicinity, they will offer to help the guest find his or her way into the our offices.
Once the guest and greeter make it into the offices, the greeter becomes responsible for finding who the guest is meeting and where to take them. At this point, in a best case scenario:
- The greeter knows the CCF/TH team member and knows where to find them.
- The team member is at their desk.
- The meeting is on their Google Calendar with a room reserved.
- The team member is ready for their guest to arrive.
However, most of the time we are not operating in a best case scenario. There is no guarantee that the team member will be at their desk and, as many guests come a few minutes early for scheduled meetings, the team member isn’t always prepared to meet them. Worse still, the conference room may be occupied by a meeting about to end, so where does the guest go and how can they be reassured that we are competent and have an organized check in process?
Hilary Gessner, Erin O’Malley, and I worked together to meet with various teams, observe the situation, and develop a proposal to make significant improvements to the lobby. Our plan centers around the idea that 1610 Barlow becomes a brand of its own, giving it a distinct image separate from the businesses within the building, but pulling from each anchor tenant’s brand. This change will help define the space, allow tenants and visitors to move through the building more easily, and give us the opportunity to continue building on the 1610 brand as the businesses inside grow and change. Our vision is for 1610 Barlow to become a destination for businesses and visitors who seek to positively impact northwest Michigan’s food system, and our community at large, through creative thinking and innovation.
In the following weeks you will see the addition of a bike rack, a bench for guests to wait on, an electronic sign-in system that will ping the person each guest is here to visit, improved signage to direct visitors to various suites within the building, frosted glass to define spaces and graphics that will reflect our passion for food. We plan to evaluate these changes as they are implemented and will solicit feedback from the teams in 1610 Barlow but welcome your comments at any time!
- Colleen Valko, Strategy Manager