Hardware Retailing

NOV 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | November 2017 62 M y grandpa used to love eating at little hole-in-the-wall restaurants. "It may look like a dump, but those places usually serve the best food." My dad, who was a truck driver for nearly 30 years, subscribed to the same theory, and he used to love to drag my mom, brother and me to a truck-stop restaurant on Friday nights. To be honest, I also look for shady looking places to eat, although my wife tells me to eat alone. While this idea of eating at a dive may work for some businesses, it generally isn't appealing to retail shoppers. The first impression of your operation matters. In fact, it matters a whole lot. Potential customers make assumptions and decisions about your store simply based on what they see when they drive by. First-time shoppers do the same when they walk in your door. While long-time customers are quicker to forgive and may overlook subpar exterior and interior designs, they are not immune to being turned off by them. My criteria for a well-designed, thought-out store is solely based on one question. It's a question I share every time I talk to a retailer thinking about doing a major store renovation: Based on the store's design, appearance and ease to shop, is this a store where my wife would like to shop? I've taken her to enough stores over the years that I know what she likes and doesn't like when shopping at a hardware store. Every family vacation and couple's getaway usually involves us driving around and me saying, "Oh, look! A hardware store. Let's stop and look around!" Maybe your spouse can relate. My wife is my filter for what the environment of a retailer should be. Regardless of industry, customers hold your operation to the same expectation as they do the other retailers in your area. If you have a Target, Best Buy, Food Center and dozens of other retailers, your store needs to look just as nice! Just because you are locally owned does not mean you get a free pass to have a subpar appearance. Going through a major renovation is an opportunity to evaluate your operation, your customers, your competition and other stores to make sure you are keeping up appearances. Perception Is Reality As I've already said, potential customers are already making assumptions about your store based on what they see from the road. It doesn't matter how great your product selection is, how competitive your pricing is or that you have the friendliest, most knowledgeable staff. If the way your store looks prevents them from coming in, you will never have a chance to show them any of that other stuff. For them, how they perceive your store is the reality of your store. Store Design Expert Perspective: Retail Is... By Dustin Kaehr, dk@dustinkaehr.com

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