Spring Into Savvy Storefronts

Today ended not all that different than those prior. I finished up at the last stop looking forward to the drive home, a well-deserved slower pace and a chance to recapture and analyze the days progress. The drive took no unusual turn of events—the usual traffic lights, vehicles changing lanes, a truck delivering a load of fresh mulch—and my mind was slipping into auto-pilot.

After a few miles I recalled the mulch truck (unusual for this time of year as snow was just starting to melt), and my thoughts started on a journey that would engulf the remaining trip home.

At some point, someone must have decided that spring was fast approaching and to have bark mulch delivered early to get a jump on the landscaping duties—and an edge on the other businesses in the area.

Obviously that person had the mindset that even though cash flow comes from inside the building, they needed a hook to pull customers in—a little extra something. They realized that today’s market does not reward “being just like everyone else.”

What benefit could bark mulch and proper landscaping have on a business? Think about how your eye seems to be captured by a business with a clean appearance, eye-catching landscaping and attractive signage, even from a distance. This is pure and simple marketing for the passing public to hopefully draw future clientele. The business that forgoes adequate signage or a well-maintained facility often is overlooked.

After I backed in beside the garage, I decided to write about our trucks and what proper landscaping and “that little extra something” could do for our businesses.

Generally speaking, our trucks are motorized buildings that we take shop to shop giving our customers the luxury of not having to drive to purchase quality products. During our trips between shops our mobile buildings are on display for everyone to see—lets face it, most of these trucks stand out enough that the visually impaired find it hard not to notice. The next time you are stopped at a traffic light and notice the cars at idle around you, ask yourself, “Does my building look presentable?,” “Is my business viewed as professional?,” and “Does it reflect attention to detail and the pride I take in owning and operating a profitable business.”

Ask yourself these questions because, somewhere in traffic, your business is always judged, and often solely on its appearance. Keep in mind that those judging are current or potential customers (even if just for a quick cash sale to pick up a Christmas gift). Often the appearance of your store is all the information one needs on buying from you. It is said that time changes everything; can your business afford to wait to overcome a bad first impression?

Granted we all have a customer base that sees us on a regular schedule. Shouldn’t you consider them as well when you ask the above questions? It’s no secret that most shops have more than one tool truck servicing them and, just like that business on Main Street, it is critical that your store stand out.

Somewhere on your route you have techs that deal just with the “other guy.” Aren’t you curious why? Is it because he started servicing them long before, so you never really got a shot? Is it a comfort level that keeps them faithful? Or could it possibly be your storefront is not appealing enough?

Sometimes it is the smallest effort that leads to the biggest gain! Does the outward appearance of your store reflect the inner workings?

People on average are more likely to conduct business with someone who shows commitment and dedication, making them feel more at ease. A building that is run down with faded signs shows a half-hearted operation where the quality of service may be in question or is assumed to be slowly going out of business.

In years past, I logged many miles operating a tractor-trailer throughout New England, and had my share of DOT checkpoints or random stops. I can say with pride that attention to detail and keeping my truck spotless really paid off. When entering a checkpoint, the line and wait can be very long as you approach the scale. To have the inspector look at your rig and wave you through without inspection with a smile and a nod spoke volumes about his comfort level with my dedication. Time is money everywhere. Sitting on the roadside having a DOT long form done is not profitable, not to mention if they should find something wrong.

Ouch.

The trucks that we drive are billboards for us, and our brands. We chose our brand and made a substantial investment. With the change of seasons, maybe some spring cleaning and a load of bark mulch could improve your bottom dollar.

Joe Poulin is a Mac Tools distributor based in Gray, Maine. Send feedback for Joe care of brendan@pten.com.

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