Your front-line (and for that matter, back-end) employees are really important for your marketing. Anyone your current or potential clients come into contact with sends a powerful marketing message, good or bad, depending on the relationship quality. If your employees are courageous, creative, sensitive, respectful and authentic, you’ll score marketing points. If they are bureaucratic, slovenly, hostile, cold, and distant, you will lose.
These results are cumulative but are extremely vital for first and final impressions. The plumber who shows up at your home and doesn’t clean up after himself (and is messy to look at in the first place) will not build your brand if you are a plumbing contractor. If your crew on a home renovation fails to clean up after each day’s work and doesn’t communicate what is happening and help the family through the inevitable site chaos do you think site disputes are more likely and positive references are less probable?
As well, if your “reception” is a voice message and the person (if any) who answers after the caller hits zero a few times has no authority to answer inquiries or resolve complaints, you will leave a sour taste, indeed.
I realize not everyone is warm and fuzzy and some really good employees technically are not people you want your clients to meet. I suppose in these cases, “out of site, out of mind” is a relatively safe cliche.
A better option is to have a business culture where all your employees are great, enthusiastic, and excited about their work — and they communicate this enthusiasm to each other and the clients. If you are fortunate enough to have this type of business (I interviewed someone yesterday who does), then you have a built-in marketing advantage as your existing labour force will actually control who joins the team and employees without the work and client-relations ethic will leave sooner rather than later.
Can you force your existing employees to change, however. I doubt it. People simply don’t change no matter how much you try; whether you use fear or incentives. I suppose you could solve the problem with brute-force firings (after checking first with your employment lawyer) but that sets a cultural tone and statement which hardly helps. Perhaps wiser is to look at your business closely and see if one or two bad apples are wrecking it for everyone else (in the process look closely at your own behavior to ensure you aren’t the bad apple), and you may need to remedy/remove the problem that way.
The last thing you want to do is to spend several thousand dollars on expensive advertising and marketing, only to find your clients are greeted by angry or insensitive employees. You will be throwing good money after bad if you do.