If you’ve ever walked past a shop window, glanced at it, and then immediately retraced your steps to take a closer look, you’ll understand exactly what “kerb appeal” is all about, and why making a good and lasting impression is so important for your business. An attractive shopfront can draw in new customers and reinforce positive views of existing ones. With a bit of effort, you can ensure that your business premises stand out from the crowd and always looks welcoming. Here are a few tips to help you refresh your commercial property.
Making the effort
High streets are changing up and down the country, and Manchester is no exception. Online shopping for both goods and services has become increasingly popular and now accounts for about 15 per cent of all retail spending, according to a 2016 study by Manchester University. This makes the market more competitive for every type of business. It’s worth investing some time and effort to improve your offer, so start by looking at your business through the eyes of a potential customer: what draws you in, and, just as importantly, what might put you off?
When assessing the impact that your business has at street level, there are several things to think about, including external and internal décor, window displays, landscaping and signage. There is also the issue of keeping your property clean, particularly if you use window displays and want to attract a better footfall.
Laminated glass is a type of safety glass that is often used for shopfronts as it doesn’t shatter when damaged. Instead, the glass panes will crack but not break off into large, sharp shards. You can choose single or double-glazed units, and there are also versions that are tinted, which is ideal for providing protection against sunlight. Laminated glass comes in different thicknesses, and it’s worth consulting the experts if you are planning to install new windows or update current ones. Talk to a reputable glass supplier before making your final decision. Always keep your windows spotlessly clean to create the best possible impression, and remember that natural light has positive psychological effects on people’s mood and behaviour.
If your business sells a particular range of goods, you can use them to best advantage by showcasing top-quality items in an attractive display. The more imaginative you can be, the more attention your displays are likely to attract. Studies have revealed that movement or motion is particularly eye-catching, and you can do this in several different ways. You might want to use animated props or figures, for example, or make use of a turntable to display a range of goods. Lights that move or change colour as well as scrolling signs or banners work well. Video projections are popular, as are changing computer displays.
If you use lighting in your window display, you will increase your chances of making sales, according to recent research. Of course, it’s also important to make sure that the internal lighting in your business is the best quality – your customers will want to be able to see clearly if they are planning a purchase, so check for unhelpful shadows or pockets where the interior is gloomy, and make sure that you fit the right kind of lighting. This is particularly true in fitting rooms, which are often very poorly lit. The aim is to show off the merchandise and give your customers the best possible experience. To help with the kerb appeal, your internal lights should be able to be seen from the pavement or roadside. This is particularly so in the winter months when darkness arrives early.
Once your windows are clean and sparkling and your window displays are in place, try standing back a little and viewing the rest of your property. The colours that you are using should reflect your business aims. If you sell toys or novelty goods, for instance, you will want bright, cheerful shades to make your business stand out. If you run a funeral parlour, you will be better served by quieter colours that are more sombre and dignified, perhaps with fresh flowers on display. Offices can also get away with muted shades, though a lot depends on the “personality” of your business. The main point is to keep the décor looking good and to refresh it promptly when it becomes tired or faded. This applies to the building’s interior as well as the exterior.
If there is land attached to your premises, it pays to make sure that it’s well-kept, whether it’s a lawned area, a pavement or parking space. Cafés and restaurants often place a few chairs and tables outside, which calls attention to their business. If your premises have car parking spaces, make sure that the most accessible ones are designated for people with disabilities, and if you’re blessed with a garden-type area, make sure that you keep it in top-class condition year round.
One thing that inevitably lowers public opinion of business premises is inadequate, shoddy or misspelled signage. Aim to ensure that your signage can make an impact from the kerb on the other side of the street. Use a font that is easy to read, and create signs in plain English. Avoid fancy, complex lettering styles that your customers may struggle with, particularly if you work on an upper floor and have your business name and details etched on windows. Be especially careful with apostrophes – perhaps the most misused punctuation marks of all.
Whether your customers can walk into your premises at street level or have to seek you out on an upper floor, make sure that they’re rewarded with a friendly welcome as they enter. Good training will ensure that your reception staff meet and greet them appropriately – there’s nothing quite so off-putting as a surly response to a polite enquiry. Always remember that your efforts to spruce up your business premises will be absolutely redundant if your employees let you down.