Why You Need to Categorize Your Business Visitors

When companies first decide to get organized with the way they welcome visitors, they tend to start by listing the things that visitors should do.

Visitor procedures are important, but they don’t come first.

The foundation of any visitor management system is an understanding of which types of people visit your facility — so the first step should be to analyze who is coming through your doors.

Making a thorough list of visitor types seems like a basic move, but many businesses skip this step. The result is a one-size-fits-all visitor policy that causes unnecessary confusion and delay in the reception area.

We won’t let that happen to your organization, though. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good handle on how to categorize and streamline your own visitor management system.

List Your Visit Types

Together with the rest of your staff, especially the people who have their pulse on the comings and goings of the front office, start a list of all the types of people who visit.

Think either in terms of visitors or in terms of visits.

In the beginning, don’t worry that there are too few visits for any given type. Think through each month of the year and season of your business, the busy times and the slow times. Who comes through the doors? What about during special projects? Are there any times of year when extra security is needed up front?

Make a note of any seasonal or even temporary type of visit.

Once you determine your visit types, use this worksheet to mock up a check-in procedure for each one.

Here are some suggestions for visit types to get you started.

Deliveries

  • Routine deliveries of water for the water cooler or snacks for the vending machine
  • Deliveries of mail and individual packages and gifts
  • Delivery of legal documents
  • One-off food deliveries from individual employees

Services

  • Routine visits from service providers (such as cleaning service or building maintenance)
  • Specialized visits from service providers (such as servers for a catered meeting)

Appointments and Meetings

  • General business meetings
  • Job interviews
  • Personal visits from employees’ friends and family

Staff Check-In

  • Might be required of some contractors, part-timers, or freelancers, interns, or volunteers

Customize Each Visitor’s Sign-in Process

Next, it’s time to think through the check-in procedures for each type of visitor you listed.

When you go through these steps with each visitor type in mind, you’ll get much more insight than if you were using the vague idea of a generic visitor.

Decide What Personal Information To Collect

Most visitors will be required to give their first and last name. But you may also want certain visitors to give details like their company affiliation or their job title.

If you’re running a secure facility, you may also require some information about their role or why they’re visiting. Certain companies also have compliance protocols that require checking citizenship status.

Finally, you may want to take a visitor photo, for security purposes (for display on a visitor badge, for example) or to notify the appropriate staff of exactly who they’re about to meet.

Decide What Visit-Specific Information to Collect

Check-in and check-out times and dates should be collected from each visitor for security and emergency purposes.

Some visitors may also need to note the name of the specific staffer they came to see. (This might be a good addition to collect for visitors who come for a meeting for example, but not for visitors coming for cleaning or building maintenance.)

Another type of information to note here could be the visitor’s security level or access area as it pertains to your facility.

Decide Which Legal Documents to Collect

This one will require a discussion with your attorney, if you haven’t discussed this issue already. Your attorney can advise you on which agreements will best protect your company for each visitor type.

Examples of legal documents required by some visitors include liability waivers, non-competes, privacy policies, and non-disclosure agreements.

In some cases, one visitor agreement or visitor policy could sum up expected behavior for the visit.

Decide Who Will Get Notified About the Visitors’ Arrival

Each type of visitor will probably require a different type of notification, and you should get the procedures in writing to prevent any confusion.

Perhaps you’d like everyone in the human resources department to get notified when a candidate arrives for a job interview, for example. Or, perhaps you will only notify the person he’s there to meet.

Decide Whether to Require a Badge

For many companies, visitor badges seem unnecessary.

However, they do have benefits. Not only are they a good security measure (photo IDs prominently displayed are a signal that the person is supposed to be in the office and has checked in correctly), but they’re also a helpful way for employees to spot visitors.

You might not decide to issue badges for visitors who are just making a quick delivery. But you may decide to issue them for people attending business meetings. Choose what works best for your company. For more on visitor badge best practices, check out our full post on visitor badge design.

Decide Whether to Make a Fast-Track Option Available

Will this type of visitor be returning frequently? Would it help things to create a shortcut of sorts for them the next time they check in?

If so, note what needs to happen when the visitor is a returning visitor as opposed to their first time. This could mean keeping their details on file so that they can simply approve those details instead of filling them out each time, or requiring a shorter form after the first visit.

Get Creative

You don’t need to limit yourself to the ideas suggested above. Remember to add any custom fields for any info that might be useful for your company. Your staffers and your lawyer might add valuable insights.

Now, repeat the steps you just took (deciding on what info and documents to collect and who needs to be notified) for every visitor type you listed.

You can document the answers for each visitor type using this bonus worksheet. Download it here.

Build a Procedure for Each Visitor Type

Once you’ve considered each step of the check-in process for each visitor type, you’ll probably have noticed that some types are quite similar and could be combined, and others could be eliminated altogether.

In the end, you should settle on as few visitor type procedures as possible while still providing a streamlined experience. Fewer visitor types will make things clearer for your front desk staff, or for your visitors themselves if they’re checking themselves in with a visitor management software.

Every visitor management system should start with an analysis of who comes through your doors. Click To Tweet

To make these procedures much easier on your staff, consider trying The Receptionist visitor management software.

With The Receptionist, your visitors check in on an iPad stationed at your front desk.

You can create a custom button for each visitor type and establish a custom process for each type. You can change any of the fields, add custom text, add any combination of legal agreements, and choose whether to require a photo — all customized to the visitor type. You can even pre-register VIP visitors or expedite the check-in process for certain visitor types.

Want to see it for yourself? Check out The Receptionist’s 14-day free trial.

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