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What Curb Appeals Means to Your Business

By Maureen O'Connor, Tru Vue Marketing Associate

What do you think is the most important aspect of your business for attracting customers? Is it consumer service? Doing great work? Referrals? If curb appeal wasn’t one of your top answers, you might be surprised at what kind of an impact it can have on your business. Your storefront is one of your most valuable marketing tools. It is your shop’s first impression and your first opportunity to introduce your business to new customers.


Before and after snapshots of Fourth Corner Frames & Gallery. The storefront’s curb appeal was transformed as part of the Tru Vue Retail Makeover.


Updating your store’s curb appeal can have an amazing impact on your business. Yet, too many small businesses don’t use curb appeal to their advantage, either by not maximizing it or by letting it go altogether. The risks of not enhancing your curb appeal are significant. According to a 2011 Omnibus survey of 1,000 consumers by Morpace, a market research and consulting firm, 95 percent said that a store’s external appearance influences their decisions on where to shop. The findings also showed that:


  • Two-thirds decided not to visit a store based solely on its appearance from the street.
  • More than half avoided a store due to a “dirty” appearance from the outside.
  • Nearly 40 percent won’t enter a store that doesn’t “look like a place I would normally shop.”


The Morpace survey covered small businesses in general, including everything from restaurants to auto parts stores to grocers. Imagine what the results would be for a higher-end, more design-focused business like a custom frame shop.


When thinking about curb appeal in terms of our industry, custom framers should go beyond the basics of clearing trash from the sidewalk or entry, keeping windows clean and making sure your signage is in good shape. It’s important to convey an impression that people associate with what you oer.


Another signicant Unity Marketing research insight to consider is the type of consumer who is interested in and spends money on custom framing. People who custom frame the most tend to be art lovers, have college degrees, and a higher household income. Both the art and custom framing markets skew younger (under age 45). As the Morpace study indicates, if your curb appeal doesn’t target this type of customer, you are missing opportunities for your business.


When Tru Vue Makeover Contest consultants, Ken Baur and Meg Glasgow, came to Fourth Corner Frames, winner Sheri Wright’s store, one of the first things they did was assess the exterior and begin brainstorming ideas for changes. “Image is everything,” said Glasgow, custom frame shop owner and author of Recharge Your Business — The Ultimate Frame Shop Owners Manual. “Custom framers need to appeal to the higher-end consumer they are looking to attract.”



Top 5 Reasons Consumers Choose A Particular Shop


Industry research provides insight on what consumers are looking for in their custom framer. According to a study done by Unity Marketing (click here to read Selling Service, Expertise and Trust), consumers cite expertise, professionalism, and trust as important factors when deciding where to have a piece custom framed. The Tru Vue Consumer Focus Group research (click here to read) also revealed that people go to small businesses because of perceived expertise.


While these are conceptual ideas, you can convey each with the right visuals. And you can express the opposite with a lack of curb appeal. An unorganized, drab, dirty or otherwise unappealing storefront sends the wrong message to potential customers.


It’s not just new customers who are affected by curb appeal. If you think about what keeps people coming back, things like customer service and making beautiful pieces probably come to mind. But curb appeal has an impact on repeat business too.


More than 80 percent of the consumers surveyed by Morpace admitted to shopping only once at a retailer and not returning because the business did not meet their expectations. Reasons for this included customer service but also disorganization of the store and “dirty” appearance.


Curb appeal is one of the many ways you can enhance your business and reach new levels of success. In our next articles, we will go more in-depth with changes you can make to upgrade your storefront. Please check back here as we recount different parts of the makeover process at Fourth Corner Frames that provide others in the custom framing industry with ideas and inspiration to apply what was learned in their own shops.



Six Simple Things To Boost Your Curb Appeal 


In the coming months, we will have many more ideas you can use to improve your curb appeal, but following are some things you can do right away to spruce up your storefront.


Sweep the sidewalk

Wrappers and scraps scattered about your sidewalk and entry say a lot about your business even though they have nothing to do with the quality of your work. Make sure you keep your store exterior clear of distracting debris. This may seem like a small thing, but customers do notice.


Straighten signage

As a framer, you probably notice when someone’s art is o -kilter in the home. Your customers see the same thing with signage. Weather and time often shift things outside, and even inside, your storefront, so make sure you check on this regularly.


Incorporate stand-alone signage

Sandwich boards and other stand-alone signs are a great way to update and keep things fresh. Use them to promote anything from store news to special events to inspirational ideas.


Clean out the cobwebs

Your window displays need attention more than once or twice a year. You may not notice the dust getting thicker, but customers will. While you are at it, take some time to swap out pieces that have been on display for several months to give your storefront a fresh look.


Edit your window displays

Clutter doesn’t convey expertise, professionalism or design air, all important traits people look for in a custom framer. If you have more than a few things you want to put on display, rotate these items to keep your storefront attractive and updated.


Check your greenery

If you have plants out front, make sure they are green. Weeds and plants past their prime are signs of neglect, and that’s the last thing you want associated with a business that exists to preserve, protect and beautify people’s treasured pieces. Common Missed Opportunities for Custom Frame Shop Curb Appeal.



Common Missed Opportunities


Looking less than professional

It’s important for your storefront to represent your artistic style and vision, but it’s also critical that customers feel good about spending their money with you. Make sure your windows are clean and uncluttered, and that your displays are regularly updated. These visual elements convey a sense of confidence with customers that they are handing their treasured pieces over to someone who pays attention to the details.


Losing the focus on framing

This is especially important if you are a gallery or sell other items. If custom framing is the “bread and butter” of your business, displaying things like unframed art or collectibles can be confusing to customers.


Playing it too safe

Clean and tidy is important, but it isn’t enough. You need a strong, appealing visual to draw curious customers into your shop. Don’t hold back on putting your more compelling work samples on display. Think about if you have architectural elements you can work with or signage that can make people stop and take a look.


Not using it to extend the brand

A clean, visually appealing storefront is great, but it’s not doing all the work that it can do for your business if it doesn’t reflect your brand. Signage, colors, and displays should all be considered with your brand in mind.

This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.

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