You put in incredible hours to build your small business brand. Don’t let small mistakes blow all your hard work and make you look second rate. The following are a list of 15 areas that many small business owners neglect, costing them dearly.
If you fail in these areas, customers are not forgiving. It’s a case of guilty by association. If you’re not delivering in one area, people perceive that you must be cutting corners in other areas as well.
Some of these opportunities can be used to enhance your small business brand, others need to be overcome so they don’t overshadow your small business.
Has Your Signage Seen Better Days?
Mother nature will slowly sap the shininess from every sign. All signs have an expiry date before they succumb to the elements. Do not tolerate second rate signage. It decimates your first impression and scares even non-prospects away. Take a look at your signage. Does it need your attention? If so give it a new coat of paint or replace it.
Performing Cheap Alterations
Don’t make the mistake of patching up material to save money. This looks tacky and cheapens your small business. If you need to make changes to your hours, phone number, menu or statements, have them professionally redrafted. If you anticipate regular changes, ensure they can be made in a professional manner without looking second rate. You want customers to focus on the benefits you can deliver, not on why the number ‘9’ looks funny or why there’s masking tape over the second line of your brochure.
Make Way… And Make it Neat
Ensure the paths customers take to your small business are neat and free from obstruction. Grab a broom and sweep the paths of leaves, pickup the litter, fix the broken tiles and remove all graffiti. Make your trading area immaculate, and your brand will maintain the perception of high quality.
Your Customer’s Window to Your Operations
Ensure your windows are clean. This makes a world of difference. Dirty windows portray an uncaring small business who neglects themselves and their customers. Set a recurring time when your windows need to be washed and stick to it.
Worn Furniture Wears Out Your Small Business
George Orwell wrote a book titled ‘1984’. I often see business owners showcasing furniture which must have come directly from its set. Do not use dated or worn out furniture, no matter how much money you save. There’s a reason it’s cheap – because it makes you look cheap. It sticks out like a stick insect… on a beach ball. Your furniture choice reflects your small business brand. Are you a high quality small business? Or are you a dated ‘three days since I last shaved’ type business? Furnish you business accordingly.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression
Who Wants to Use Your Toilet?
Your toilets need to be kept private, clean, stocked and smelling as nice as possible. It’s pretty straight forward. Customers don’t like using foreign toilets at the best of times, so make their experience as tolerable as possible. Ensure you have a process of regularly spot checking them.
Is Your Lighting Too Dim or Inappropriate?
Your lighting needs to reflect the mood you are trying to achieve. A level of natural light is preferred if possible. Bright lighting helps customers view the full range of available products. Dimmed lighting can create a nice mood which complements services such as massage. Make a conscious decision on the lighting your small business uses.
404: Find Your Error Pages Before Your Customer
Your website has many pages and many more links. It is your responsibility to ensure that those pages are up and the links are working. Nothing’s more frustrating for a customer than being unable to access information. You’re effectively dangling a carrot in front of them before slamming your door in their face. You may as well post a message declaring “Sorry. Go check out information from my competitor.” In case of these emergencies, ensure you have a great 404 error page. Ian Lurie’s written a great article about creating great 404 pages.
You Are What You Wear
You may have a uniform or you may just choose to wear casual clothes. It’s your small business and your choice. Whatever you wear, ensure it’s clean, presented properly, in good condition and doesn’t smell. A good uniform will blend into your small business. A bad uniform will be a focal point for your customers, which will generate negativity towards your small business.
“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” – Anais Nin
Music Must be Selected
Any music you play either on hold or on your premises must be reflective of your small business brand. Do not leave this music choice up to your staff as they are not your customers. Select the music choice and set the volume level. Music should add to the ambiance of your small business – not become the ambiance of your small business.
That Smell Reminds me of Aunt Betty’s
Smell is the strongest trigger of memory. A bad smell will negatively impact a customers whole experience. An appropriate smell will work to enhance your small business experience and gel everything together. Do your premises smell bad? Do your lunch smells waft into customer areas? Fix it. Don’t mask it. Just be mindful of using smells which may trigger an allergic reaction.
Is it Cold in Here or is it Just me?
The temperature inside your small business must be geared towards customer comfort. It should consider the outside temperature and also your staff comfort, although customer comfort is your primary concern. If you’re doing your job right, customers shouldn’t notice the temperature.
“Sorry. I Can’t Hear You. Can You Speak up?”
How does the sound carry in your premises? Are you operating a popular cafe with chairs jousting along tiles? Or are you heading a retail store with basic consumables? If your customers require a lot of interaction, either with you or one another, keep the music turned down. Consider sound proofing rooms and using sound absorbing material as decorative features.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” – Warren Buffet
“Can I help You? Not Yet? …How About Now?”
There’s nothing worse than an over eager service assistant. I once entered a shop and was asked ‘can I help you?’ After a polite ‘no’, the shop assistant proceeded to follow me around the shop for the next 10 seconds, forcing me into a quick get away.
Instead of asking “can I help you?”, which most of the time generates a negative response, instead open with “Have you been here before? I’ll just take 30 seconds to show you where everything is.” This approach both helps the customer, gives you an opportunity to build rapport and can also be a chance for you to communicate a current special or product you’re trying to move.
Receipts Are Your Last Touchpoint. Make Them Count
Often an after thought, your receipts are the last tangible item your customer takes from your small business. If you’re a pure service provider, a receipt could be the ONLY thing your customer takes from your premises. Flimsy receipts with scant information that’s difficult to read leaves you customers with a poor taste. Legible and logical receipts, perhaps including your small business unique selling point, serve to further solidify your small business branding.
Phew, congratulations for making it this far – you deserve a pat on the back. Have you noticed any businesses making these mistakes?
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