Hey small business owners, as the saying goes, you never have a second chance to make a first impression. This is especially true in the competitive world of business, where a single negative review or bad experience can send prospective customers (and their dollars) elsewhere. Even if your prices and customer satisfaction levels are beyond reproach, a lackluster, dated, or damaged storefront may all but ensure that many would-be customers will never make it past the door. One of our merchants that we introduced the Clover™ Station to have a nice little shop in Glen Ellyn, IL and if you happen to stop by you can get some great ideas on how to make some changes to your store front for more curb appeal, while enjoying their inventory inside too!
Read on to learn more about the impact curb appeal can have on your business, as well as some steps you can take to instantly improve your curb appeal and pull in more customers.
The term "curb appeal" is often used in the context of residential real estate sales: the greater the curb appeal, the quicker the sale. But curb appeal is just as, if not more, important when it comes to retail stores, restaurants, and service-based businesses. A building that looks run-down, doesn't have obvious signage, or lacks good lighting can be unappealing to passersby, leading them straight to your competitors.
One local study found that 70 percent of first-time sales were based on curb appeal, which means a business lacking in curb appeal could be leaving a major amount of money on the table.
Even if you're dealing with a building that could use some TLC, improving (or creating) curb appeal doesn't need to be an expensive or time-consuming process.
- Improve Wayfinding and Signage
It's important for passersby to not only be able to find your business, but to have some idea of the products or services you offer. Make sure your street number is easily visible from the storefront (or even painted on the sidewalk) to make it easier for map or GPS users to find you. If your business has a fairly nondescript name, consider using a logo or short slogan on your signs and storefront that will let the public know what to expect.
You'll also want to ensure that all your business's signs are large enough to be easily read from wherever your potential customers will be traveling, whether a nearby sidewalk, highway, or somewhere else. Even if your sign seems large when you're standing right next to it, if people driving by can't read it, you're unlikely to pull in many new customers.
- Repair Walkways and Steps
Crumbling concrete sidewalks and stairs can pose a tripping hazard for customers. Not only is this a liability risk, it's likely to deter would-be customers from making their way inside your business. Having damaged exterior concrete patched or repaved will reduce the risk that a customer could be harmed on your property while also improving your building's overall look.
- Clean it Up (Or Hire a Cleaning Service)
While having a steady stream of customers can be good for your bottom line, it also entails a certain amount of daily and weekly cleaning. If you don't have the time or staff to handle this yourself, you may want to consider hiring a cleaning service that can do things like pick up trash around your building or in the parking lot, wash your exterior windows and sidewalks, and empty any outdoor trash cans or cigarette containers.
- Use Landscaping to Create an Inviting Atmosphere
Businesses that are surrounded by a stark, vacant lot without any adornment can be off-putting. Adding some bushes, flowering plants, landscaping boulders, or other decorative elements can give a friendlier impression, as can using foliage to create a direct path to your business's door.
If your storefront doesn't have much in the way of grass or greenery, you may want to consider installing a rock garden instead. Not only are rock gardens modern and eye-catching, this type of xeriscaping is extremely low-maintenance and won't eat into your overhead costs.
- Lure Customers With Discounts, Samples, and Offers
For retail businesses, placing a few deeply-discounted items outside can draw in bargain-hunting customers. In other cases, using outdoor signage to conspicuously advertise free samples, trials, or other offers available inside can get brand new customers in the door when they may otherwise have walked right past.
- Invest in Seasonal Decor--But Keep it Timely
Seasonal decor like holiday lights, pumpkins, or American flags can be an instant way to update your building's exterior and keep its look fresh. On the other hand, having your Christmas lights still up when Easter arrives can indicate your company is disorganized, overwhelmed, or even closed for good. Make a point of updating your seasonal decor on a regular basis to avoid sending the wrong message.
- Use Trim and Shutters to "Finish" Your Building's Appearance
A new paint job can freshen up any building, but if this isn't in your budget, installing new shutters or adding some coordinating trim can instantly give your business a streamlined, updated look. Trim or shutters that match your business's colors are even better, providing a source of exterior branding in addition to your signage.
By taking these steps, you'll help your business remain competitive in an increasingly image-focused market.