Give Your Business a Makeover

Toss out those old signs and 1970s decor. With a few simple touches, you could completely reinvent your business in 2008.

Imagine this: Ty Pennington and the entire crew from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition happen to be in the neighborhood. This year’s season has just wrapped up and the team is feeling a little anxious for work. With all the tools in the world packed into an RV and an abundance of extra cash in hand, they quickly decide that your little clothing store is going to be the next million-dollar business makeover project.

But the ringing door chime of another customer walking out the door cues your wandering subconscious that this is not a reality show. Ty, the crew, and the money are all halfway across the country giving their famous “Good Morning” wake-up call to some other unsuspecting winner.

More than ever, you feel like your business is stuck in a rut. Your competition has been cutting into your profits and your customers no longer seem as excited about your products and services as they did when you celebrated your grand opening just a few years ago. Now is the perfect time for you to give your business a makeover. It could be a major makeover or a minor one. What’s important is that you make a commitment to succeed and get your business back on the fast track. Working in your favor is the fact that small businesses like yours have an advantage over big and slow companies. You can move quickly to spot changing conditions and revamp the operation accordingly.

Curb Appeal


Ask yourself what makes customers want to walk inside. No matter what type of store you have, you can do many things to increase the curb appeal of your storefront. Make sure your sidewalk and parking lot are free of debris. If your storefront is small or in an obscure location, you can create a stronger visual presence by painting the exterior or roof in brighter colors. When weather permits, consider leaving your doors open to attract potential customers on the sidewalk. Use balloons, streamers, or anything else to attract a customer’s eye and convince them they’re missing out on something if they don’t come inside.

Signage


Your front window or door should display your business’s name and logo large enough to be clearly seen from the other side of the street. Your address should be prominently displayed along with the business hours (generally on the door). Choose lettering that is simple and easy to read. Upper and lowercase letters are easier to read than all caps and block style letters are easier to read than script. Handwritten signs taped to the door should be considered unacceptable.

Window Displays


Don’t let your business’s window display form bad or false impressions at first sight. Make your window display exciting. Change it with the holidays, the seasons, or with any other special local events taking place. Your window display should be interesting enough to encourage people to visit and see what else you might have for them. Select a variety of items to show off in your store window and include products from all different price ranges. Make sure your windows are sparkling clean. Avoid cluttering the window displays and instead concentrate on the hottest items you’re really trying to push.

Use Your Vehicle


Your vehicle can serve as a low-cost mobile billboard. Placing your ad on your vehicle can typically generate a possible 40,000–50,000 impressions daily, depending on where it’s parked and when or where you drive it.

Store Layout


Your goal should be to have a smooth traffic pattern. In most instances, it is more attractive to have displays set up in the center of your store and to place your other items against the walls. Whenever possible, try to coordinate your displays with your products. The checkout counter should always be located toward the front end of your store so that you can greet your customers individually as they first walk in the door. People like to be recognized and acknowledged.

Direct Traffic


Customers should easily be able to distinguish your sale items from the regular merchandise, so have a specific place for them. Clearly mark the sales tags on all your store merchandise as well as on colorful signs that will grab your customers’ attention. Displaying your discounted items in the back of the store will compel customers to walk by the regularly priced items before coming across those on sale. This will help increase sales of your regular merchandise.

Keep Your In-Store Displays Fresh


You should constantly be looking for new ways to display your items to keep your customers interested. If old merchandise is moved to a new spot, it will often make the customers think it is new and they will pay more attention to it. In addition, keep a steady stream of new merchandise as this will encourage customers to return.

Stock Your Shelves


Selecting merchandise for your store can be one of the most time-consuming and expensive parts of running a business. Don’t take this responsibility lightly. Make sure that your prices are appropriate for your area. Remember to maintain a general theme and purpose for your products. Discuss ideas with fellow retailers, and don’t be afraid to ask your sales reps for their ideas and suggestions. This will help you narrow down your choices to items that will do well in your store.

Create Marketing Materials


Spend some time and careful thought on designing brochures and flyers to hand out to potential customers. This can be very economical. You can create them with desktop publishing software and print them with your own printer. Get copies made at a local copy or print shop. If you want something a little more professional, hire a graphic designer.

Hire Right


It is very likely that you’re going to have young people work for you. When you hire a young person, make sure they really want to know more about your type of business. A candidate who is really interested in technology but wants to work in your clothing store might not be as good as someone who is attending classes in fashion design. When interviewing, ask them about their hobbies and interests and what they believe they can offer as an employee.

Prevent Losses


There’s always a chance of theft and you should set your prices accordingly. The only way to find out how much you’re losing is to keep an accurate inventory. If you’re selling any small items that customers can easily walk off with, keep them in secure cases.

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Reader Comments


Friday, August 15, 2008 at 12:02 AM
BIZCOACH says:
WONDERFUL COVERAGE & TERRIFIC SUMMARY.

I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE PART ABOUT THE USE OF THE COMPANY VEHICLE AS A 'ROVING BIZ PROMOTION'. TRULY DIFFICULT TO OVER-ESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS SUGGESTION.

IN ADDITION, IF YOUR BIZ IS LOCATED, OR YOU DRIVE IN AN AREA WITH BUILDINGS MORE THAN ONE STORY HIGH, WITH WINDOWS, IT CAN REALLY PAY OFF TO PLACE YOUR AD ON THE ROOF OF YOUR VEHICLE AS WELL.

WHEN PEOPLE LOOK OUT THE BUILDING WINDOWS, THEY'LL SEE YOUR AD. SINCE NOT MANY FOLKS DO THIS YET, IT'LL BE AN EYE-CATCHER!

REMEMBER TO CAPTURE THE APPROPRIATE TAX DEDUCTIONS FOR YOUR MARKETING & PROMO EFFORTS.

BIZCOACH
bizsupportgroup@inbox.com
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 9:15 PM
anonymous says:
priceless information for small business owners
Monday, January 21, 2008 at 8:21 PM
PeterN says:
Good Stuff! There are not too many small business associations that provide such useful and up-to-date content for small business owners like me. Keep it coming!

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