This is the first in a series of several articles on how to better position your company to potential and existing customers.
We've all heard the phrase, "First impressions count." This is a true statement that is sometimes easily overlooked by a small business owner. It seems obvious, but if you have a physical location, you should always be thinking about maximizing your curb appeal.
The first time a customer — an existing or potential one — visits your company, the customer should immediately feel comfortable and confident about doing business with you.
Residential real estate agents often request that homeowners looking to sell first spruce up their homes as much as possible in order to generate interest from potential buyers. The same is also requested from business brokers prior to listing a company for sale.
The time to think about curb appeal is not just when selling, however. Having a professional and inviting entrance is sure to help retain existing customers and attract new ones.
Stand outside the front door of your business and look at the impression you may (or may not) be making through the eyes of your customer. If a first-time visitor walks past your building, is he likely to enter your door? Here are some helpful tips:
Is your company name and street address clearly visible?
Speaking of signage, do you have enough — but not so much that it appears cluttered? And, is everything spelled correctly? You'd be surprised how often we notice poor spelling and grammar: not the best first impression.
Is the exterior clean and pleasing to the eye? Perhaps a coat of fresh paint or some planters at the entrance might be a good investment.
Does the front of the company convey the message you want to send to customers?
Is the entryway tidy, and is it easy for customers to reach the door and access the business?
Of course, first impressions don't stop there. Once the customer is inside, what does he see?
Does your reception area include friendly, knowledgeable staff members to greet visitors?
Is the lobby clean and uncluttered? (Keep an eye out for messy papers and disorganized working surfaces.)
If signage is present, it is helpful or distracting? Is your company's name (and/or logo) prominently displayed?
Does the lobby become an extension of the entryway and reflect the message you want to share with visitors?
Many small businesses employ the use of a welcoming sign in their reception area. If an entrepreneur knows of a visit in advance, most guests appreciate seeing their name as they enter the front door.
Comfortable seating areas, flowers and plants and the offer of a beverage are other welcoming touches that visitors notice.
Here's hoping your visitors become long-term customers!