We all know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but we all do it on a regular basis.
We don't like to admit it, but we make a myriad of decisions each day that are just that -- judging by the outward appearance. We grip our child's hand a bit tighter when someone strange gets a little too close to us, we choose to buy or not buy a book based on the jacket artwork, we decide to chat up a barista or avoid eye contact with the fellow in line behind us. All of these are judging a book by their cover, so to speak.
The other day I stopped at an antique store here in Ogden, a place I have driven by for more than a year and thought about going inside.
What has stopped me each time? The way the place looks outside -- boring, bland, no personality whatsoever. I've made a mental note of the outside, or the cover, and come to the conclusion that inside I won't find anything I want.
I finally stopped in out of sheer exasperation in looking for a particular piece of furniture. I had gone everywhere else already and this was my only remaining option. Inside, I was shocked at the breadth of selection, at the uniqueness of the inventory.
There's a new business opening up in Ogden. I won't name any names, but they've totally revamped the interior of their space, however they neglected to change anything about the ramshackle exterior.
The only reason I know the inside looks nice is because I happened to see it lit up one night while driving by, and the blinds were open. Driving by in the daylight and with their blinds closed, the building itself is actually scary. I wouldn't want to park my car there, let alone venture inside.
What does the outward appearance of your business say about you? Are you losing customers because the exterior is off-putting or doesn't match with what you've got going on inside?
Some companies also create an exterior that's hip, inviting and fresh and then fail to deliver a product or service inside their business that is actually worth coming back for.
Both things are important. Certainly there are time and budget restraints for every business or remodel project, so priority has to be given somewhere. On the one hand, you want people to come in and that requires a decent exterior. On the other hand, you want people to stay or to come back, and that requires a superior experience once those people are inside the building.
Really, what does your exterior say about you -- the physical exterior of your building, the external advertising you do via mass mailings, social media and sponsored events?
I suggest that you sit down and review your mission statement. Don't have one? Start there.
Do your ad campaigns, the products on your shelves, the businesses you associate with, the events you sponsor, the plastic serve ware you use -- do even the smallest of details match with the mission and purpose you have expressed for your business?
Are you failing to point out positives externally, those good qualities about your business that have the potential to harvest more customers and clients? Likewise, is your external image actually what you are providing? Don't create an image or idea in your customers' head, only to get them into your store and let them down.
Your mission statement is the bottom line of who you are as a business. Everything else, every minute detail, should reflect that. It's a nice idea to think people aren't judging you by your cover, but the reality is that your cover is your first impression. And you know what they say -- you only get one of those.
Kim Bowsher helps small businesses, putting to work the lessons she learned working for Starbucks. She currently works with a private firm in Salt Lake City. Contact her at email@example.com.