05 April 2007

What happens when you get them to the door?

The entrance to a business can make it or break it. If your business is not visually inviting, your customers have a hurdle to overcome, before they even think about making a purchase. Some of the most common problems associated with entries to businesses include:

1. A cluttered business

Do customers literally have to climb over stock or displays to get into the business?

2. Poor signage

Generally signage becomes cluttered over time. The name of the business should stand out above all other signage. Trading hours need to be clearly marked and other signage should follow a pattern or a plan of some sort. Suppliers love to have their product name splattered over the front of businesses and whilst this can be a selling feature for some businesses, it is important to make sure that it doesn’t make the business appear confusing and messy. Even something as simple as an OPEN and CLOSED sign makes it easier for people.

3. The entrance is too small

Some businesses, especially ones with large numbers of customers coming and going, seem to have thrown all common sense planning out of the window by making the front door tiny – to the point where only one person can enter or leave at a time. To the customer this can almost be like walking into a trap. Our instincts take over and the fight or flee instinct can kick in, where you decide against entering the business on a subconscious level, simply because it looks like getting out will be too hard.

4. You’re being watched

If the counter inside a business is facing the door it can be intimidating to walk into this environment, especially if the person behind the counter watches every step that you make. It is best if the counter is not in a direct line with the front door, but if it is and it can’t be changed easily, staff should be trained not to watch people contemplating entering your business as this can be intimidating. Once the customer comes in, a big smile and a friendly welcome will help to put the customer at ease. Put an end to pouncing.

Further to this point are the businesses where groups of staff stand around talking and watching customers approach. This can be very intimidating to say the least, especially if they start laughing and smirking. Don’t let it happen.

5. Is the front of the business clean?

A dirty entrance will deter a lot of people from entering the business, particularly if it is a food business. Cigarette butts, rubbish on the ground, overgrown gardens and overflowing rubbish bins, can all impact on a customers opinion of a business and their decision of whether they should enter the business or go elsewhere.

6. Bad lighting

This is particularly relevant if customers visit the business at night but some store fronts look dark even in the day. The entrance to a business needs to be well lit, for legal reasons (in case someone falls over) and for increasing the appeal of the business. Lighting around the outside of the building is also a factor, especially for safety. If the car park is poorly lit the customer may decide to go somewhere else that appears safer.

Often bad lighting is simply the result of poor maintenance. A light bulb blows here and there and before you know it the business is in darkness.

Do whatever is necessary to make sure that your business is more inviting from the outside looking in. I have seen a lot of business that are quite amazing inside, but they struggle to get customers in the front door because the business looks so bad from the outside.

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