All too often people and organizations say - and may honestly believe - that they want to improve. But they go about it the wrong way. Too much self-evaluation and too little outside evaluation may mask real problems and opportunities. First Impressions offers an inexpensive way of determining what visitors think of your community. Volunteers from two somewhat similar communities (size, location, county seat, etc.) agree to do unannounced exchange visits and then report on their findings. Participants became "secret shoppers" for the day to discover what they can about their sister city. Theam members follow procedures and reporting guidelines in a fully developed manual, which is copied for each participant. The manual helps insure that the evaluations and final reports are thorough and somewhat uniform and minimize the training of volunteers.
The final report provides an outsiders perspective of your community as it might be perceived by a prospective business, potential resident, or tourist.
Notice: The First Impressions materials were edited and reformatted in 2007. A "new and improved" version of the print materials are now available for download (Just click on the link to the left titled, "Revised User Guides (2007)" and complete the registration form. There is a site coordinators guide, a team member guide booklet, and report template. These materials are available for download free of charge. If you would prefer to receive print copies, you can order a set of the print materials including (1) site coordinators guide and (6) Exchange Team Member's Guide Booklets for $100 (includes shipping and handling). To order these materials, please contact:
610 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 265-8136
FAX: (608) 263-4999
community improvement program, which emerged in 1991, represents a compilation of ideas, experiences and thoughts of
two people who focused on improving the communities of Grant
Since that time, it has been used by hundreds of communities
in the U.S. and Canada as a tool for assessing the perceptions of visitors.
The user guides
were updated in 2007 and are available on this web site.
reports serve as a basis for community action and provide a "snap-shot" of the community at a specific point in time.
These recorded assessments can be an outstanding way to
measure progress within a community.
options including assistance from the Center for Community
Economic Development, please review the revised
Site Coordinator's Guide .
For more information, contact Professor Andy Lewis