“Hold on, let me come around the counter to help you.”
If you’ve ever worked in a customer service position or been in charge of designing furniture for customer service areas, you know this statement – and the challenges it poses – all too well.
Often customer service representatives are boxed in by large desks or display countertops for handling merchandise, performing customer service, and to guard a cash register. In other cases, however, there isn’t enough of a barrier between a business’s equipment and materials and its customers so there’s little delineation between staff space and customer space.
In every industry, from hotels and hospitality to sports and entertainment, counter space is at a premium. But counter space shouldn’t impede the ability of staff to move unhindered and better serve customers.
Incorporating hinged countertops makes way for better interactions between staff and customers while maintaining needed counter space.
Hinged Countertops: More Than Food Service Design
When you see “hinged countertops,” you probably think: kitchen design.
Incorporating mechanical motion controls has long been a staple of kitchen, bar, and restaurant layouts.
But there are many more places where hinged countertops provide form and functionality. Consider:
- Jewelry shops with display cases and countertops
- Retail stores with customer service areas
- Banks with customer relations desks
- Hotels with front desk guest services
- Stadiums with small retail shops and concession stands
By taking advantage of advancements in motion control solutions in a number of retail and hospitality applications, designing with the right lift hinge improves:
First and foremost, any designer’s #1 concern is safety. Usually – thankfully – designs deemed unsafe don’t make it to production.
That’s why it pays to start with the right precision motion control solution when designing a flip up countertop.
With a lift gate assist built in, even a heavy granite countertop can be moved up or down almost effortlessly. This ease of use comes in handy for all employees since lift gate assistants:
- Counteract the weight of a countertop
- Lift smoothly
- Lower softly
- Reduce the risk of injury
With these features built-in, staff members are more confident and comfortable lifting and lowering a countertop, which means it’s more likely to be used properly and safely.
See the Lift Gate Assistant in action:
Weber Knapp’s Lift Gate Assistant is built to last a minimum of 100,000 cycles, and is designed to meet ADA requirements for safety.
The rules of the road don’t apply to walking patrons inside a building. Countless floor planners have tried for ages to keep guests in their appropriate “lanes” while maintaining a sense of openness.
Again, if you’ve ever worked in customer service, unless your staff area was completely blocked off, inevitably customers would find a way in.
That’s left most designers little choice but to put up walls with doors and counters as blockades. Unfortunately, all these physical barriers to direct customer traffic flow also hinder staff movement.
Countertops outfitted with lift gate assist hinges give staff a convenient way to move through areas while signaling to customers that those areas behind the counters are off-limits.
Another issue: traffic flow safety. If there’s an emergency and you’ve boxed in your staff behind counters and doors, that slows the staff’s safe movement out of that area. Using hinged countertops in a design to ease traffic flow improves safety.
With improved safety and traffic flow comes better customer service.
One of the best things about working in customer service, whether that’s as a concierge in a hotel or a cell phone salesperson, is the chance to connect with people. That’s not always easy for a staff member who feels trapped behind an immovable counter.
Giving employees the opportunity to move safely and freely allows them to focus more on their roles serving customers and guests. A lift gate assist incorporated into a retail countertop opens up a pass-through for staff to easily step out from behind the counter and engage 1:1 with the people they’re trying to help.
No matter which business you’re building for, great customer service is key. It leads to:
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Better customer retention
- Increased employee morale
It’s good business to design a floorplan layout that prioritizes customer service. Building in safe, convenient, hinged countertops is an investment in building better customer relationships.
A hinged countertop hits the sweet spot in a Venn diagram filling all three needs for:
- Usable countertop space
- Ease of movement for staff
- Traffic barriers for staff-specific space
It provides a versatile solution to our original problem of having to come around the counter to help customers.
In its default position, it maintains a countertop’s typical function as a workspace – that prime real estate in any business – and barrier for traffic flow to let customers know an area is off-limits. When it's raised, it's safely out of the way for staff’s convenience to move and provide customer service.
Why put up a wall and a door to close off a customer service area when you can have a hinged countertop?
Why design a service “island” with one entrance when you can add lift gate assistants for multiple service outlets?
We’re living in a future where advancements in mechanical motion control engineering open up possibilities for bold new designs.
Make a statement piece out of a staple that’s normally ho-hum. Designing with lift gate assistants makes commercial countertops:
And with the right hinge manufacturer on board, they can help you retrofit a countertop that’s already in place, saving time and money in completely overhauling a space.
Mechanical Motion Control for Multiple Benefits
It may seem counterintuitive, but adding something as sleek as a mechanical counterbalance hinge like a lift gate assistant is an effective tool for upgrading retail spaces and beyond.
Hinged countertops improve safety, traffic flow, customer service, and aesthetics. Whether you’re looking to retrofit or completely overhaul your space, incorporating hinged countertops into your design could help take your business operations up a notch.
Elevate Your Next Design
Download our free Intro to Motion Control and Counterbalancing to learn more about making your next design stand out: