Whether you are new to business or an established business, have you recently had a look at how you are viewed from the prospective customer, a current customer or even a potential business partner point of view. Take the case of a jewellery shop in your local high street and how they present their shop front. It can be almost guaranteed that most of the jewellery shops you come across will have a stunning display with products sparkling clean, easy to find and view. The purpose of this is to draw you into the shop where, in most cases, you will be presented with another immaculate setup to entice you to purchase from that particular retailer as opposed to a competitor.
So, are there lessons that your business can take from the jewellery shop front analogy? What is your shop front? Clearly, depending on the type of business you run, your ‘shop front’ can take many different forms. Nowadays, prospective customers first port of call might involve looking at your website and, from just a few seconds of navigating around the site, cast an opinion as to whether they want to do business with you or not. Is your website up to date and fit for purpose, are there case studies, reviews etc? If they then decide to progress further, what is the next stage and how is that experience presented to them?
- How is your main switchboard line answered – is it answered in a polite and professional manner? Could your gatekeeper be actually turning away potential customers or business partners before finding out enough facts about their reason for calling?
- If you run a small business and usually contactable via a mobile phone – is your voicemail message easy to understand, informing the caller of the information you require them to leave and then how and when you will call them back?
- Is the outside of your unit or office environment clean, modern and welcoming – does it need a new sign, a lick of paint or a major overhaul?
- Your reception area – are guests welcomed appropriately, offered a drink with a chair to sit on? What are the procedures when your receptionist is away from the desk?
- If you use LinkedIn, Facebook or another form of social media is it updated regularly and is the content relevant?
Of course, there are various firms that you could employ to give you an overview of your business and how they are treated as a potential customer. But why not, in the first instance, just take some time out to write down all of your ‘shop fronts’ and review them; get another point of view by engaging with your staff or even close family or friends.
Whatever your own particular ‘shop front’ is I’m sure that you would agree with the majority of business owners that first impressions really do count.