Image can be everything to a small business when it comes to attracting and retaining customers. It is a competitive market, so preparing your company for customers can be just as important as the product you sell or the service you provide. From the outside curb appeal to the appearance of the restroom, to even the visibility and organization of daily supplies, there are certain steps you can take to impress every customer or client.
Step 1: Start from the outside and work your way in.
When a customer or client arrives at your business, the last question you want them to ask is, “Is this it?” Making sure that your business looks “Open for Business” is the first step in ensuring your company is customer-ready. Whether you have a front-door that requires a touch of paint or outdoor lighting that needs replacement, it is necessary to present a tidy and welcoming business from the moment a customer lays their eyes on you.
Step 2: Work from the floors up.
Select flooring that is going to work for you and your customers. Hardwood floors are a great option for numerous businesses because they are inviting and timeless. Not to mention, they are also available in countless woods, stains and design options. If your budget is a little tight, install higher-end floors in areas that your customers will see. Entrances, lobbies and meeting areas are great locations to selectively place your hardwood or other more expensive flooring options.
Step 3: Create walls that work.
Whether you prefer traditionally painted walls or you want to install decorative wall coverings, it is important to choose a color palate that flows throughout the entire business. Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way–things I had no words for.” How you choose to decorate your walls can say a lot about your business. And be sure to consider your lighting source when selecting wall colors and coverings.
Step 4: Arrange and furnish in a customer-friendly fashion.
Once you have selected your flooring and color palate, it is time to focus on arranging and furnishing your small business with in a practical manner. Arranging your business so that clients and customers are contained to particular areas can help you preserve the image you are trying to portray. Consider arranging these areas near the front of your business so that the “back of the house” can remain out of the judgmental eye.
Customer and client-friendly areas can include entrances, lobbies and reception areas, as well as meeting rooms and restrooms.
Entrances, lobbies and reception areas
Whether you have a client swinging by to pick-up an item or a customer that is awaiting a formal meeting, the entrance, lobby or reception area is the first image they are going to view of your business. Furnishing these areas with couches, end-tables, coffee tables and plants creates an inviting atmosphere. Including a fashionable area rug will not only add to the décor, it will also protect your floors from signs of wear and tear.
Guide the focus and attention of your clients and customers by including furniture that accommodates you and the client in these areas. Consider rectangular shaped tables to allow for items to be passed back and forth with ease. Whether you are reviewing a contractual agreement or discussing a product, you want furniture that facilitates conversation.
Meeting rooms are also excellent areas to include technology. Audio visual equipment, access to the Internet, as well as phones with clear conferencing capability should be strongly considered.
Nothing will turn away a client or customer more than restrooms that do not appear in a clean condition. Installing dark tile floors with dark grout will reduce the appearance of any dirt that may get tracked through the door. Consider granite countertops around the sink area so that water spots and drops can be kept to a minimum. Adding a small rug near the sink area is also a great way to add a personal touch, while preventing slips and falls.
Following the four steps above will ensure that your entrances, lobbies, and reception areas have a friendly and inviting feel. Paying special attention to those areas, as well as the lesser thought of meeting rooms and restrooms, will give your business strong client appeal. Not only will you establish a positive reputation, but your business will secure the happy return of customers and clients.
About the Author
Angelo DiGangi writes on business decor, flooring and electrical topics for the Home Depot website. Angelo is an “on-the-floor” sales associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs, where his interests on flooring includes tile, hardwood and laminates.