Living in a downtown mixed usage area is a lot different than living in the “berbs.” You’re constantly being surrounded by people; some you know and others who are transient. One thing you are constantly aware of is “what makes the downtown work?” You notice how the buildings look, which businesses get the most amount of traffic and which ones are your favorites.
As I walk down the street one of the things I notice first is the outside appeal of the business. Is the outside of the building clean, does it need paint, is there a ton of garbage piled up against the building? I think if it’s dirty outside than it can’t be any better inside. There is a coffee shop on the block that’s over 20 years old; the displays in the window are always interesting but the entrance is absolutely appalling and looks like it’s never been cleaned. I asked the owner why he never paints the entrance to which he replies, “I don’t own the building!” Maybe that’s the sign he should hang on the door.
A friend of mine sent me an article called The Three Statistics That Every Downtown Should Live By. It’s pretty simple, but many businesses must not “do simple” because the outside of their businesses are very unappealing. Simply speaking, it’s called “curb appeal.” How many times have you walked by a business and in a second decided it wasn’t the place for you? There is a Dunkin’ Donuts on my block that is amazingly clean. It is open 24 hours a day and still the parking lot is clean and the windows are finger print free. Every couple of days they wash their delivery trucks. And the bathrooms are spotless.
This might not be new to you but us girls account for 80% of all consumer spending. A well-lit parking lot that feels safe and a spotless restroom are two important ingredients to a successful business. This link will give you some ideas about how women feel about shopping.
Another interesting statistic from the first article is that 70% of all consumer retail spending takes place after 6 p.m. One of the problems with the downtown stores is they close at 6 p.m. and then lose business to the malls. In the summer the sidewalks and streets are packed but the businesses are still closing at 6 p.m. A well-lit parking lot becomes even more important to women. I know that women take extra precautions when dropping off their friends, such as not leaving until their friends are safely in the building.
Many nights it would be nice to just go out for a good cup of coffee after 6 p.m. but it just doesn’t happen. Maybe one of the “downtowns” will read this.
Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through sales and customer service training. She is also the co-author of CONTAGIOUS OPTIMISM! Learn more at www.contagiousoptimism.net (publisher: Viva Editions).