When you operate a small business, you know that appearance is everything. A business of any kind–a store, a restaurant, even an office–will draw in more walk-in traffic when it presents the right image to would-be customers as they walk or drive by.

Of course, that’s not easy to do. It not only takes a lot of work to get the right look, it also takes knowing what that right look is. What are the factors that help pull people in? And, just as importantly, what pushes them away?

Keeping It Clean

It seems obvious, but it probably wouldn’t take you long to find a business of some kind that just isn’t clean. Storefronts can be tricky because they can appear to be clean from an indoor perspective, but if you always enter and exit through a rear door and never see the front the way customers do, you may not realize what filth is accumulating right under your nose.

It’s not just dirt that retailers have to worry about. It’s also about keeping the entry safe and clear of obstructions like ice and snow. Firms that offer snow removal in Utah are providing a service that does more than prevent slip-and-fall lawsuits, although that’s important too. They also make the storefront look attractive and welcoming, especially in relation to adjacent businesses that may not be so vigilant.

Keeping It Stocked

Nothing looks sadder than a store that doesn’t have much inventory. There will always be those fast sellers that empty the shelves quickly, and there is a lot to be said for creating a perception of scarcity. But for the most part, you want the shelves, racks, and hooks to suggest that customers will be able to find what they need when they come inside.

Much of what it takes to do that can be accomplished with good space management. If certain items are perpetually scarce, allocate less space so that the remaining inventory takes up a larger percentage of the area. Remember, an item that can’t be found in stores is often easy to find online, so don’t let customers walk away thinking you don’t have what they need.

Keeping It Fresh

The only thing that looks worse than having nothing in stock is having old things in stock. Inventory that is dusty, worn, faded, or has outdated packaging tells the customer that you aren’t moving that product, and that there may be reasons you aren’t moving much of anything. Get those items to a clearance sale. Mark them down and move them out, and if it leaves the display looking to thin, rearrange it to look fuller.

Displays and branding can fall victim to stagnation, too. Why do you think that perfectly good chain restaurants are frequently remodeled? The idea is that buildings blend into the scenery after a certain length of time, and if the look isn’t updated to shake up their view, they eventually tune it out.

Maintaining a business in terms of its physical appearance is a tall order. In addition to the pricing and convenience competition of online retailers, there’s also the neat, orderly arrangement of their stores that never goes away. Yet for all that appeal, online businesses don’t fit the bill for everybody, and there is still room for your brick-and-mortar establishment. As those potential customers come along, make sure your business, whatever its type, looks clean, organized, well-stocked, and fresh, and that it looks safe and accessible any time of year.

By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.

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