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First impressions

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A few weeks ago, I took a short trip to one of my favorite places - Yosemite. I decided to stay in a hotel in a nearby town called Oakhurst. It's still a bit of a drive from there to the national park, but staying there allowed me to drive from home in the evening, rest overnight, and then spend the entire day in the park. The drive wasn't bad - not too much traffic and I arrived at the hotel in about four hours.

Since this was the off-season, the hotel was not busy. The lobby was empty and the person working the counter was watching some TV. She saw me walk in and was obviously frustrated that she would have to miss a part of her show to check me in. Her attitude and obvious displeasure for having to help me was very apparent. I didn't feel welcome. The room was average and clean and nothing else was noteworthy. I probably won't stay there again, as there are many other places in that town, which I'm sure will be pleased to have me as a guest.

First impressions are important - but you know that. We are always on our best behavior when we arrive at our new base or meet our new boss. So, have you thought about how you will greet your inspectors during our upcoming inspection? Here are some thoughts:

Control the first few minutes of your inspection. Welcome the inspector, introduce yourself and ask them to sit down. You have worked very hard to ensure your program is noticed as one that rises above the rest and you hope the inspector will see just how great it really is. This is where some simple preparation will go a long way. Let the inspector know that you are looking forward to showing them how your program works and then identify the things that you have spent so much time on. Here is an example...

"Hello Lt Smith, I am Lt Jones. Thanks for taking the time to come look at program X today, please have a seat. I hope your visit here at Vandenberg is going well.

I know you have a lot to do today so I thought I'd take just a couple of minutes right up front to give you some quick highlights of this program. I have my binders ready to go for you and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. You will find my SAP inspection results in the binder along with some printouts from the 101 database which explain some innovative things we have done to make our program not only compliant, but could possibly help other units outside of the 30 SW navigate through some challenging issues.

You are going to find some things in your inspection that have made the management of program X much easier for us and to help guide you to those things quickly, I have prepared a point paper as a quick guide."

Take just a few minutes then to describe one or two things which you feel are unique about your program. Highlight the hardest hitting improvements you have made. Remember that the inspector has a job to do and will need time to look through your program and to ask you questions. Be respectful of that time. Ensure the inspector knows you are an expert on this program by having answers to their questions. The best way to prepare is to have others within the wing inspect it before the AFSPC team arrives. Make note of the questions you hear and be well versed in answering. It is likely the AFSPC team will ask many of the same questions. If you find that the inspector asks something that you do not have an answer for, tell them that. Do not guess or make up an answer - the IG will see right through that. Simply tell the inspector that you would like to write down their question and get them a quality answer later the same day.

Once the inspection is done, thank your guest for spending time with you. Ask where they are headed next and offer to escort them there if needed. If not, call the office they are headed to and pass a heads up.

Then, if there were any questions still needing answers, ensure you do the necessary research and get the answer to the team through the appropriate process (maybe your boss or the 30 SW/IG).

Rise Up Hawks and remember we only get one chance to make that great first impression!