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. The importance of curb appeal for homes is obvious, 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) small business curb appeal doesn’t need to be an expensive or time-consuming process.
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.
Your signage also plays a big role in creating a welcoming environment for your store. So when signs are posted with statements phrased in the negative, such as “No public bathrooms,” people may feel unwelcome. That’s why it’s important to consider if your signage displays might deter potential customers and to think about other ways you might be able to make your policies known. Overall, the more welcoming you can make your store appear, the better. And you never know when the person who stops in to use the bathroom may end up making an impulse buy!
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.
Add Light Fixtures
Adding LED lights is a low-cost option for increasing curb appeal. Light fixtures add an extra element of style, and there are many designs you can choose from to match the aesthetic of your store. For example, you could line your walkway with lanterns or add a sting of lights to an awning. At night, the additional lights will also make your store more visible and provide lighting that is inviting to customers.
Spruce Up Your Front Door
Your business’s front door is one of the first features that makes an impression on potential customers. A door that is dirty or has peeling paint can create doubt about the quality of your business before the customer even walks in. Therefore, replacing or sprucing up an old door is a great way to increase curb appeal. If replacing the door completely is too costly an option, simply applying a fresh coat of paint can go a long way.
Don’t Forget the Parking Lot
When you think about improving curb appeal, you typically think about the storefront and landscaping. But when it comes to small business curb appeal, the parking lot factors in as well. A shabby looking parking lot can make potential customers wary to leave their car, which could ultimately lead them to decide not to stop by your store. But you can easily enhance the look of your parking lot by doing simple, cost-effective things such as painting new lines. Doing so will help the parking lot look newer and more inviting.
Parking lots can also become overrun with cracks and potholes. Fixing them will take time, effort and money, so prevention is key. If you are able to seal coat your parking lot, this will help prevent those blemishes from occurring.
By taking these steps, you’ll help your business remain competitive in an increasingly image-focused market.
Improved Curb Appeal Means More Business
As you improve your curb appeal and grow your customer base, your small business will also need payment equipment for payment processing and other business solutions such as web design to help expand your company’s reach and capabilities. Contact the team at Velocity Management Services today to schedule a free consultation. One of our small business specialists will be happy to discuss the needs of your business and determine how our suite of solutions can best work for you.