Happy man and woman go window shopping.

Your Storefront has 9 Seconds to Make a Good Impression

Most entrepreneurs know that first impressions are important.  What they probably don’t know is how little time they have to make that impression count.  Studies have shown that on average women will take 9 seconds to assess whether or not your business is appealing enough to enter.  Men will give it about 13 seconds.  Maintaining clean and inviting curb appeal is vital for the physical image of your business. Is your place of business visually enticing from the outside?  

Potential customers are making snap judgements all the time.  Within seconds, a passerby will make decisions based upon what they’re seeing and what they’ve experienced elsewhere.  The simple act of visual profiling can help or hinder people from walking in. A clean storefront makes the best impression. How does the physical image of your business measure up?  

A clean cafe with great curb appeal from the outside.
Looking good in the Southern California Sunshine.

Snap Judgements: We All Do It. 

Snap judgements are quick evaluations.  They’re part of a survival instinct that we use all the time. It’s essentially the brain quickly processing information in order to avoid harm and ensure survival.  Subconsciously we may be asking ourselves things like, does that sports pub look safe or not? I bet their food will be great! Will I be comfortable eating on that patio?  Does the server seem approachable?  According to USA Today, “we tend to base trustworthiness on nothing more than a split-second impression – and we do it subconsciously.”

The same inclination to profile a stranger’s face, clothing, and body language also applies to a store front. The problem is, many entrepreneurs are too close to their own business to see the forest through the trees.  Identifying problems with your storefront can be harder than it seems.  You can’t expect customers to tell you.  Instead, trying viewing the physical image of your business through the customer’s eyes.

Experience Your Own Business Like A Window Shopper

Here’s a quick challenge: role play as a passerby by standing across the street from your business.  What are you really seeing?  Are your canvas awnings clean, or littered with lichen and moss growth.  Are the windows brilliantly showing off your products, signage and services?  Or are they dirty and smudged with fingerprints? Alcoves, sidewalks, and outside walls, how do they fare?  

Now ask yourself, would you want to go inside? Always keep in mind that the customer is subconsciously making their own judgement calls…in a mere glance.  Looks interestingshould I pull over? Shall I venture inside?  Do I have the spare time? When it comes to Mom’s advice, apparently not many of us practice ‘never judge a book by the cover.’

Evaluate the Physical Image of your Business.

Putting your best foot forward starts at the curb.  If you get can people interested enough to simply step inside of your store, they’ve essentially ‘swiped right(!)’   You’ve won them over by passing the eye test.  After that it’s on you, the charm of your staff, and your amazing products or services to close the deal.  

You’ve spent money on the interior design of your business, brought in on-trend furnishings, and hung up thought-provoking wall art…you’re off to a great start. But don’t forget your storefront. Make cleanliness a priority. Here’s a list of things to critique with a fresh perspective:

Parking lot clean and clear of litter?

Are the windows clean and free of fingerprints?

Are light fixtures free of cobwebs?

Is the sidewalk free of moss and weeds?

Do the exterior walls have any food spills or other staining?

Does the exterior paint need any touch up?

Clean commercial windows and clean exterior sidewalk areas.
Does your business pass the eye test? (The smell test can wait until they’re inside)

Loiter in Your Own Lobby

Once a customer has stepped inside you have the opportunity to really capture their attention. A welcoming entry lobby is a crucial first step.  Cleanliness will greatly enhance the customer experience here.  Role play as a customer and loiter in your own lobby. Spin around and view it from new angles. What do you see? Here are questions to ponder regarding the user experience in front lobby areas:

Is clutter an issue on counters or end tables?

Does the upholstered furniture have staining?  Is the material worn?

How do the carpets look? Clear of any staining? Nicely vacuumed?

Do the hard surface floors have a nice finish?

Is dust an issue any place?

As a clean storefront makes the best impression it’s a good idea to conduct inspections on a regular basis. This will ensure that you’re keeping up on changes throughout the seasons.  You’ve got to work to catch people’s eye and retain their attention.  Consider hiring a professional cleaning company to help keep your storefront looking it’s best. The team at Business Cleaning Solutions can offer more additional insight.