What do the perfect business premises look like? You might think first about location, about the usefulness of the space for what you have to do, and about costs. Too often, these considerations lead business owners to overlook kerb appeal. It may seem trivial by comparison, but the way that your premises look has a big impact on the success of your business. How does this work, and what can you do to make a better job of it?
The first thing you need is for your business to get noticed. There are two dimensions to this. Firstly, you need people to be able to find you successfully, even if you’re hidden away in an industrial estate. Secondly, you should be using your premises as an advertising platform for what you do. This means, first and foremost, good signage. In areas where businesses are packed together, such as shopping centres, you may be allowed to use this in the surrounding area and not just on your premises directly. It also means choosing signage and frontage displays that fit your brand and send a positive message about your product or service.
In some contexts, you may want to keep changing your signs in order to reflect small changes in what you’re offering and invite people who regularly pass by to keep checking them. Blackboard signs have become increasingly popular for this. Some businesses hire professionals to decorate them each day. If you do it yourself, think carefully about the style and make sure that it’s legible. Using different colours of chalk and drawing pictures helps to create interest.
First impressions matter a lot in business, and the outside of your premises is the first thing that visitors will see. This means that it needs to look neat, clean and professional if they are to take your business seriously. It means that you need to stay on top of maintenance at all times, from tidying up rubbish to arranging emergency glass repair and touching up scuffed paint as needed. You will also need to think about the style of your frontage and keep it looking up to date. It should reflect the style that people expect from a business of your type, but should always look smart, whether you run an office, a factory or a warehouse.
If dirt is inevitable on your premises, try to keep it round the back or preserve one area, where you have your front office, in immaculate condition. This sends the message that you’re serious about the business side of what you do and not just about your production processes. Bear in mind that some of the people you need to deal with, such as prospective funders, may not have a clear idea of how messy those processes are. Keeping your office looking smart is as important as choosing the right suit for yourself.
The impression that people get from looking at your premises will inevitably influence their expectations of what you have to sell. This means that it’s vital to make your business look like a quality establishment, even if you’re not selling directly to the public. This should affect everything from the surface of the pavement or driveway immediately outside to the quality of your doors and windows and how you look after any plants in your windows or around your building.
Because of the importance of communicating quality, it’s worth investing a little more than you might strictly need to in order to get the best materials for your business. Think not just about how they look when first used but also about their expected lifespan and how well you will be able to maintain them. For instance, adding textured rendering to your frontage may look good at first but be a bad choice if you’re located beside a busy road where everything gets stained by traffic fumes.
With some types of business, it’s particularly important to make members of the public feel welcome. Flowering plants help with this, but you need to choose them carefully so that you can keep them looking good all year round. You should also think about the colours you use on your frontage and the style of your signs to create a friendlier impression. As a rule, softer colours and more rounded lettering make people feel more at ease. If you’re open at night, think about the tone of the lights you use outside – the brightest ones can sometimes look harsh and unappealing, and there’s a lot more choice available today than there used to be.
When you’re doing work like this, you can also take the opportunity to think about physical access requirements for people with mobility disabilities. If there’s no room to build a permanent wheelchair ramp and you choose to keep a folding one that can be put in place as needed, make sure that there’s a notice explaining this and a button for summoning assistance that’s easy to reach from wheelchair height. Make sure that your doors are wide enough for a standard-sized wheelchair to fit through.
Reaping the rewards
Making your business more appealing in this way not only increases footfall but also makes a better impression on passers-by, who may return at a later date or choose to buy from you online. It also increases the desirability of the area where you’re based, encouraging other business owners to make the same investment, which is good for everybody. It could even increase the value of your premises over time, and in the immediate term, it will increase what people are prepared to spend there.
When you feel proud of the way your premises look, it will become natural for you to fuss over them and do the day-to-day work that keeps them in good condition. You may also find that staff morale improves as your employees take increased pride in telling people where they work. All this will rub off on your clients and customers and help to propel your business forwards.
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