How I became the FOH Manager of a large law firm
This is the personal account of how How to Succeed
I was 22 when I first started working as a Corporate receptionist for a large bank. I had no corporate experience but was working as a receptionist at a dental surgery. I was so pleased that the interviewer from the Reception agency recognised something in me that allowed me to get my foot in the door of the corporate environment.
I was the first receptionist for this bank as reception had been previously covered by the Security team. I knew this was my chance to shine and show the firm what I could do. I was very nervous on my first day and thought ” can I do this” but always believe in yourself and your abilities. If you want something then go and get it, its not going to come to you !!
(Duties of a ground floor receptionist are usually: meeting and greeting, printing and organising the passes, using visitor software, letting the host of the meetings know their guests have arrived by calling them. Liaising with visiting clients. Explaining security procedures, administration and adhoc duties. However the role of a client receptionist (where you’ll find full specs and reception jobs) is more extensive as you’ll find out below…)
I started by looking at ways we could improve the client experience and by being open, friendly and accommodating to people. If you want to progress you must put yourself out there and not sit behind a desk, it is all about developing relationships and knowing the business. Now don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all plain sailing, I made mistakes in the beginning but I learned from them and never let them happen again.
It must have worked because after 8 months I was moved to their head office and they started to employ other receptionists. After 2 years of hard work I was promoted to Reception supervisor managing a team of 5.
I worked there for 7 years and learned as much as I could about being a leader and how to manage people. I then applied for a role at a large law firm as a Reception team leader, this is where I gained the most experience and I will always be grateful to that firm for the support and training they gave me. A good employer sees value in people and works to develop them. I spent 12 happy years with this company before moving to another large Law firm as Front of House Manager where I have been for 5 years.
I am sharing my story in the hope that it shows that if you work hard you can achieve and progress in this field.
You have to make an impression and be yourself, get to know your clients both internal and external. Become a trusted advisor so that people respect and trust your judgement. Put yourself out there and always be positive, in my experience there is always a solution to a problem, you just have to find it. I am seen as the go to person who will always know how to help people and I am very proud of that.
I love being a leader and I now manage a team of 12 which includes reception, switchboard and room booking office. I lead by example and will never ask the team to do anything that I would not do, this has earned me respect. I always have their backs and if they make a mistake they always let me know so that we can hold our hands up before the client complains. We apologise and this works well with the client, this has served me well over the years.
That first impression is so important and myself and my team work hard at this, it is the little things that people remember e.g.” it looks like it is going to rain, would you like an umbrella” this might seem like something simple but it can make a big difference.
Know your clients and their likes and dislikes, do they like a certain drink in a meeting room ? Will they need help setting up their laptop. I keep a record of what our internal and external need are – i.e. Pepsi must be served for this meeting, only likes rooms at the south side of the building, dietary requests etc. If your client sees you taking notice of these things they will be impressed.
You also have to be willing to go above and beyond because this is a competitive market and client service is very important, I recently had a request from a partner to source a certain wine for a client which our catering team could not order in. I researched it and found where they sold it, I drove there and picked up the wine and brought it to the office ready for the meeting. The partner had no idea what I did but the client was very happy and that’s what matters.
I love what I do and being a career receptionist or manager is very fulfilling but you have to like people and have to be able to stay calm in a high pressure environment. If you can do that and are looking for a rewarding career then this could be for you.
Contributed by Lorraine
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