Did you know that within the first 10 seconds of approaching and walking into your store or restaurant, customers make a quick-fire judgment of your business? What factors shape their opinion, you might ask?
- The first smell (pleasant or offensive?)
- The first sight (clean or dirty?)
- The first sound (background music or bickering between employees?)
- How they are greeted (enthusiastically or not at all?)
I bet when you opened your store or restaurant, the exterior was freshly painted, plants were green and blooming, and the sidewalk was clear of debris. But, over time, there is a chance that the paint has started to chip, the plants dried up, and the sidewalk is littered with cigarette butts and gum. You might notice these things every day, but do you “see” them?
You might not. These things, though not necessarily pleasant to look at, have become familiar to you. What about the customer that’s coming to your store for the first time? They most certainly will see these things. They’re not familiar with the neglected exterior, but now this is their first (and possibly only) impression of your business.
However, in 60 minutes or less, you can take the steps necessary to improve your business and your customers’ opinion of your business. You don’t have to leave the location, pick up the phone, or even talk to anyone.
What you DO have to do is take a look around. This is what we call the “Fresh Eyes” approach to seeing your business. You need to experience your business the way your customers experience it.
So, grab a pen and a notepad, and follow along to answer a few questions abou the current state of your business. Do your best to write your honest answers. If that proves too difficult, grab a trustworthy co-worker or friend to help you answer.
- What do you see?
- How’s the signage?
- Your lighting?
- The outdoor seating?
- How are they looking? Are they clean, functional, and welcoming?
Stand in your doorway
- What’s your host or greeter doing at the front of the store?
- Do they look engaged, busy, bored, or are they even there?
Take a few steps in
- What do you hear?
- What do you smell?
- How does it feel?
- What’s the first thing you notice?
- Is the “lay of the land” clear and easy to navigate?
- How’s the ceiling looking?
- What about the lights?
Go where your customers go
- Visit the dressing rooms,
- the cash register, and
- the bathrooms.
- Are they free of clutter, easy to access, and clean?
Go where your customers shouldn’t go (but can see)
- The doorway leading to the stock room or break room,
- areas adjacent to the cash register, and
- the back door where you receive shipments.
- Do you see trash, empty boxes, or employees’ personal items (purses, coffee, water bottles, etc.)?
- What else do you see?
So…how do your customers see your business? Is that how you want them to see things?
If not, it’s ok – don’t panic. Your next step is to make a plan to eventually check each “to-do” off your Fresh Eyes checklist. Some are a quick fix (new lightbulbs) and some will take a bit of time, effort, and money (repainting the interiors or exteriors).
Just know that with each improvement you make to your business, you’ll be creating a consistent and positive experience for your customers, ensuring that the only thing they’ll be thinking when they walk through your doors is “Man, I love this place.”
See the Customer Experience Guide for the comprehensive approach to this topic.