All About Branding: Curb Appeal

Your storefront

As a business owner you know that branding is important. Branding encompasses not only your logo, marketing message, your personal appearance but your store front or home office. When was the last time you looked at your business from the eyes of the customer? My five tips for branding your business with curb appeal will walk you step by step through the eyes of your customer.

Five Tips for Branding Your Business using Curb Appeal

1. Parking Lot: When your customer drives into your parking lot what does he or she see? Is there litter and debris leftover from lawn mowing or spring or fall foliage from trees? Do you have dead or near dead plants that need replaced? Is your grass green? Is the concrete clean? Is the sidewalk full of cracks with weeds in the cracks? Do you have a trash can or cigarette butt can that is overflowing? Is there a dead bird in the parking lot? I had a client tell me she would not go to a restaurant because there was a dead bird lying in the parking lot and when she mentioned it to the restaurant owner the owner shrugged and commented “they didn’t pick that up?” It is imperative that the first view of your business is favorable and invites the customer to stop and get out of his or her vehicle.

2. Store Front & Door: Is your store front and front door clean? Are there fingerprints? Go right now and grab the glass cleaner and get that door cleaned. When was the last time you painted or pressure washed your business? If your business looks old and drab you will attract clients that expect to receive a low cost product. If you want to charge a premium price for your products and services you must have a storefront that attracts the clientele that will pay your premium price. Think about it. When we go to a mom and pop diner we expect to pay for a low cost but yummy meal. When we go to a glitzy restaurant with fancy lighting and furnishings we expect and happily pay a premium price.

3. Welcome Mat: Is your welcome mat clean? When was the last time it was replaced? Your welcome mat not only welcomes the customer but it will catch dirt from his or her shoes and aid in keeping your store clean once he or she walks inside.

4. Lighting: Is your parking lot well lit? Do you have bulbs that need replaced? When your customers arrive at night is the parking lot well lit? Is the path and entry to your business well lit to provide safety to you customers? I recommend you visit your business when it is dark outside and get a good view of what your customers see.

5. Windows: Do you employ a window cleaning service? When you hang posters or sales fliers is there leftover tape stuck to the window? When the customer approaches your business what do they see when they look in the window? Is it an inviting image? Do they see your merchandise, stacks of boxes, employees washing dishes or cobwebs? Again, now is the time for you the business owner to take a good look at your business from the outside.

Now is the time to focus on curb appeal. Many of my tips are very low cost to implement and require only a bit of elbow grease or sweat equity. Painting, pressure washing and replacing furnishings may require being added to your budget. Curb appeal is the first step in branding your business. If your business does not look inviting people will not stop. When people do not stop you do not have customers. When you do not have customers you do not have a business. Branding is a necessary step in growing your business.

Ditch The Fax

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Time to Bury the Fax Machine and Ditch Your Fax Number
Do you still spend money on a monthly fax service?
Do you still own a fax machine?
When was the last time you sent a fax?
When was the last time you received a fax?
I admit I was still paying $9.99 a month for my fax service until recently. Throughout the years, I have sporadically sent faxes. In 2015, I sent maybe four faxes. I don’t recall receiving any. If you are still paying for a fax service I suggest you look at the alternatives. I ditched my fax costs and I suggest you do too.
Free Fax Services from computer
Free Fax Apps from your phone
FaxFile
EFax
An alternative to sending a fax is scanning the document and sending as an attachment through email.  There are also free app for your cell phone that you can use to scan documents and then send via message or email.
If you are sending documents that require a signature I recommend using https://acrobat.adobe.com/us/en/documents/esignatures.html  You upload your document and select the signature box that is appropriate. I have used the free version for over two years for all my client contracts.
As we enter into 2nd Quarter it is a good time to do some spring cleaning. Review your expenses and see where you can eliminate waste. Each expense should show you an ROI that makes it worth keeping. If you can’t justify the cost then eliminate the waste. There are plenty of free resources available if you need to send a fax.  A onetime use of a fax service at a local office supply store will still be cheaper than paying a monthly subscription that is never used.
Whether you are a business owner or the Chief Financial Officer for your home it is always good to periodically review your budget and see where you can cut costs.
Western Union closed its telegram service on 27 January 2006. Sending and receiving a fax is now becoming obsolete and needs to be retired.

Spring Into Action

stencil.default (2)Do you live a neat and orderly life? Do you function better in chaos? Some people will say they work better when surrounded by piles of papers or stacks of books. But do they really? I don’t think so. Mess breeds stress. Have you recently had to pay late fees because you forgot to pay a bill on time? Have you shown up late for an appointment because you could not find your keys or had to stop and find a belt, shoe or sock? Lack of organization and office procedures is detrimental to the small business owner, businessman and businesswoman, parent and student. My five tips below will help you design an environment that will save you time, money and needless stress.

Stop Sabotaging You and Your Success- Spring into Action – Get Organized

 1. Designate Days – when you designate days when you do your filing, book keeping, article writing, invoicing and other necessary task you will save yourself time and money. You will know when you are going to do these tasks. You will avoid paying late fees when you pay your bills on time. Business owners often forget to follow up with hot leads or late bill payers. This costs the business money. I want you to grab your day planner or calendar and right now and schedule days when you will complete the routine tasks that are necessary for running your business and life. This will eliminate stress too and put more money in your bank account.

2. Designate a Home – what happens when you return to your office from checking the mailbox? Where does the mail end up? Do you put office supplies in a designated area? Everything in your office and home should have a designated home. Your office should not look like your bedroom with books, newspapers, shoes and clothing strewn about.

3. Designate Time – do you designate a time each week to clean and organize your office? When do you turn those piles into files? If you or your designated help do not do it when will it get done?

4. Dare to be Honest – why are you sabotaging your success by being unorganized? Are you afraid of success? I dare you to self reflect and be honest with yourself. You may find you really do not like doing a particular task or you do not know how to do the task. If you do not like doing the task then delegate it to someone else. If you do not know how to complete a task either learn how to complete it or delegate it to a professional.

5. Dream – dream about your ideal life and how much easier things will be when you are organized. Dream about how you will use the extra time you will have once you are organized. Dream about how you would like your ideal office space or home to look and then design a strategy to create that space.

Lack of organization costs business owners money. Money is hard to come by these days. So, stop sabotaging you, your life and your business. Employ my five tips above and you will eliminate stress from your life and put more money in your bank account.