By Lea Schneider
It’s no surprise that everyone I know plays the “makeover game.” Take a walk or drive around your neighborhood and you can’t help but thinking of ideas for other people’s houses. You look at them and imagine updating with cedar shutters, trimming back old hedges and brightening things with new trim paint.
You might be surprised to realize people do that with stores as well. When driving past a store that’s seen better days, people wonder why it looks the way it does and why the owner doesn’t care enough to spruce things up. The fact is that curb appeal matters even more to businesses than it does to your home. It can draw in customers and make those customers want to linger and return. A lack of curb appeal can also make potential customers think your business isn’t up to date or you don’t take pride in your work, and they might just drive on past.
It’s a simple DIY task to incorporate curb appeal into a business appearance and the payoff can be big. This checklist can help you move from “wondering how” to “wow.”
Here’s my Top Ten list for business curb appeal:
1. Conquer Clutter.
You’d think there’s no such thing as business clutter, but it exists. From pallets leaning on the side of the building to empty boxes or now-dead potted plants, it is time to make it go away. If it is useful but makes the space look cluttered, move it to a back room or out of customers’ sight.
2. Clean Up.
Apply some elbow grease to the decluttered store exterior. Pressure wash walls or sidewalks if they need it. Shine windows. Kill weeds in cracks and pick up trash.
3. Repair It.
Maintenance keeps things in tip-top shape. Check out how your business looks. Even ask fresh eyes to take a look. Get a new coat of paint on doors and trim. Caulk windows. Replace beat-up doorknobs or kick-plates.
4. Hide the Mess.
Plenty of businesses have necessary messes, from dumpsters to pieces of equipment that can be left outside, but having it is not the same as showing it. Use privacy fencing to hide messes from view.
5. Get Bright.
Increase both security and exposure by adding lighting to or increasing brightness around the exterior of your business. Sometimes a well-lit business will show off more in the dark than it did during the daytime. Make sure all exterior lights and window display lighting are in good working order.
6. Shout Out.
Take advantage of sign marketing. Make sure your sign clearly reflects your company. Have it repainted as it fades. Keep lit signs in working order. If you can’t fix it yourself, get a maintenance contract with a sign company. Use spotlights to highlight your signs. Don’t forget to use professional-looking, easily readable signs for items such as store hours and open/closed notices. Use vinyl banners on fences or building sides and tout specials.
7. Wipe Your Feet.
Keep your business clean and set the tone by having great exterior door mats and indoor rugs.
8. Make It Pretty.
Bring the eye to your business and increase your curb appeal by making your business look great. Plant flower beds or containers. Trim hedges. Add a striped awning over the door or great shutters to the window. Keep your curb appeal in line with your company’s image. If flowers are not your thing, you can use potted evergreens, palms or topiary’s.
9. Engage Your Customers.
Change things up. Use engaging exterior marketing like menu boards with specials. Change out the window displays. Go seasonal and make changes based on the time of year by working in items like pumpkins in fall or pinwheels in spring.
10. Keep Them Lingering.
Customers that sit down and relax are clearly enjoying your location. The more they linger, the more they are likely to shop. Make the exterior inviting by adding seating and patio furniture for customers who are waiting or just need a break.
Changes that are made must be kept up. Too often, owners and managers park in the back and come in a backdoor. Make it a habit to not just unlock the front door but to walk out and survey the front of the store each day. Create a maintenance plan for how often the front should be cleaned up and whose responsibility it is to do so.
Lea Schneider is an organizational expert who has consulted with many businesses on how they can better manage their companies and attract more customers. Lea writes on organizational planning for The Home Depot. To review a selection of outdoor furniture that may be of value to your business, you can visit Home Depot’s website.