“Tell me, have you got the look?” - Prince inquired in his 1987 hit with Sheena Easton, U Got The Look. So, does your business got the look? Could it be mistaken for a franchise? Has anyone ever asked if your business was a franchise? Has anyone ever approached you to buy your store? Walking up to your establishment, would YOU buy your store?
Best of Both Worlds
Regardless of what your Mom said, you just might be able to have your cake and eat it too!! There are ways to make your local shop look like, and compete with, the national brands – and it’s really not that hard. With a little investment in time and money (again, a little), you can easily transform your establishment. The first thing you need to do is clean. Now, I’m not implying that your establishment is not clean, but it doesn’t hurt to “cross your t’s and dot your i’s”. Be sure you have a set of Standards of Procedures in place that are followed on a daily basis. If you don’t, you can check out our related Spring Training blog or contact us for help. Cleaning is also the first step in getting visual.
Obviously, a clean store is the first thing customers notice when they walk in. After that, the next visual step is usually FREE! That got your attention. Inquire with your vendors & distributors to see if they have any visual aids they can spare. Company reps, more often than not, would be more than happy to unload whatever he/she can out of the trunk of their car. Some of this will probably end up in your dumpster, but some nice pictures of products with happy customers can go a long way. At this point, you’ll need to internalize, and start focusing on your brand.
A brand is a name, term, design or other feature that distinguishes one seller's product from those of others. Without going too deep into it, your store’s name should use a distinctive font and you should incorporate a related image of some sort, called an icon – cone, sundae, ice cream character. Together, name and icon, this is your logo. People should recognize your business’s name whether they hear it or see it. If they see your icon by itself they should immediately think and know “oh, that’s So & So’s over on Main Street….” Think Microsoft or Apple, the little 4-colored square or apple, followed by the name characterized by the unique font. Together or separate, you know each brand when you see them!
If you don’t already have one, create your logo immediately, and start using it everywhere. Your store should have at least 5 points of branding:
Proper “head-to-toe” Uniforms – every employee should, basically, look the same.
Branded Menu Boards – Up-to-date, modern, and changeable. Digital?
Logos on the wall, and incorporated into the décor – think color scheme.
You may also want to think about store t-shirts to sell to the public. Branded t-shirts are always popular, and if you hit the mark with your logo, who knows, you could be “trending”….
Besides being a Charlie Chaplin movie reference almost no one will get…. We ARE living in modern times, and your business NEEDS to keep up. And, I do hope it’s keep up and not catch up, because if you’ve lagged too far behind, you’ve got some work to do! So, let’s break it down, and get through this. First, and foremost, you HAVE to accept credit/debit cards – plain & simple. Pure cash businesses are no longer accepted by the public. If you don’t accept cards, you won’t be taken seriously, and customers will go elsewhere! In fact, there are studies that show that people tend to spend more when using a credit or debit card than with just cash. Think about it logically. A customer can only spend what’s in their pocket or wallet. If that’s a $20 bill, that’s their limit – if it’s a credit card…. Well, you get the idea?
While we’re in your customers’ pockets, think about their smartphone. Does your business have a social media page? Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram? Do you realize that over 75% of internet users are now active on social media? That over 70% of users access social media from a mobile device? Time to jump on the wagon! Setting up accounts is easy, free, and is a great way to reach your customers and grow your brand. So, let’s stay on the phone for a minute. This is not a necessity, and doesn’t need to be addressed immediately, but you may want to start thinking about ‘Apps’. More and more it seems people are surgically attached to their phones, and Apps are on their homepage. So, doing a little exploratory research during downtimes, or in the off-season, could end up being the key to setting you apart from the competition. Other than the actual products & services you sell, your business should always be striving to: Reach your customers, pull ahead of competition, and grow your brand!
Wrap It Up
No, no, no…. not more logo wraps or napkins. Just a reminder to me to stop rambling! I’ve reviewed some ideas that are meant to help you grow your business, and keep you ahead of or at least in-line with your competitors and corporate ‘big boys’. You need to brand yourself and you have to keep up with the times. In fact, ironically, remember the Prince song I mentioned at the start of the blog? That was from the album Sign O’ The Times –very fitting. You have to view your business as the driving force to your success. It’s an extension of you. Do you want to be seen as the place using a cigar box for cash transactions, or the trending hotspot that has a point-of-sale (POS) system that accepts credit/debit cards, your own gift/rewards cards, tracks inventory, and helps process customers faster? Yeah, I figured it was the latter.
If you need a little push, or just need someone to bounce ideas off of, don’t hesitate to contact Sentry Equipment. We're here to help, and would like to….
Sentry Equipment 800.853.8026