Driving by a local convenience store, I’m immediately drawn to the faded awnings and falling sign. I think to myself how much they could do with the place if they freshened it up a little. So how much does appearance matter when it comes to your small business? Of course money is often a tight resource in operating and maintaining your business, but could a store facelift be just what you need to see revenue pick up? You’ve seen the shows about home and business makeovers – everything from Restaurant Impossible with the goal of re-doing a restaurant in 48 hours, to shows offering renovations, marketing, and more. You may like to say that appearance doesn’t matter, but truth be told, it’s as important as ever in today’s world. Competition exists for almost every type of business, it’s difficult to differentiate, and loyalty is slowly going by the wayside.
What is the first thing a customer sees of your business? A store front? A website? A business card? Put your best foot forward and freshen up the face of your business. While service and satisfaction are what bring a customer back, you need to catch a potential customer’s attention long enough to give your business a chance. It doesn’t have to be a total re-haul if you can’t swing it with time and money. A few small tweaks can make a big difference, and if done right, yield a great return.
So how do you do it? For stores, start with a fresh coat of paint, a new company sign, manicured hedges, and a clean and organized interior. Will this save your business? Not this alone, but it sure won’t hurt. If you’re an online business, make sure you have a consistent brand logo, an easy to navigate homepage, updated content, and optimized for search engines. Maybe all you have is a business card that you share with clients. This is a small space to represent your business, so make sure it features the important information: company name, your name, phone number, e-mail address, and any other pertinent details. Why not try adding a special discount for first time customers? Keep the card quality and easy to read, and never be afraid to pass them out, even if they might not generate business upfront. Every business is different when it comes to making a good first impression, but remember, it’s difficult to change a bad opinion and ultimately much easier to put in the extra work from the start. What tips do you have for others trying to liven up their businesses?
As written for YoungEntrepreneur, September 12, 2011