I’m starting to realize that almost all of my blog ideas lately have to do with food. Anyway. That’s neither here nor there. I’m sure many of you have noticed there is a new ice cream place in Binghamton. It’s on a very highly-travelled road, and it’s been generating quite the stir. You see, there has been an ice cream place where it is for years and years–as far back as I can remember at least. But it never really looked like much, kind of run-down looking and not very inviting–and, as you might expect, there was hardly ever anyone there getting ice cream when I would drive by. I would always say, “it’s too bad that place isn’t a little bit nicer, because it would be really great to have a good ice cream place near us.”
Well, a few months ago, sometime in the spring I guess it was, there started to be some activity at the old ice cream place. People were in there cleaning things out, tearing stuff down, painting, putting in new equipment. Then once the weather started to get nicer, they started working on the outside too! They painted the outside, and put up a sign that said the name of the new place, and that it was coming soon. All of the renovations got people to talking–in fact, almost every person I talked to had noticed the work going on. And now that it’s open (and it’s been open for several weeks already, maybe even a month now), there is almost always a line at the window.
Now here’s the part that I find fascinating about this whole thing. Some very key aspects of the situation stayed constant–the location (it’s in the same building), the type of product that is offered (still ice cream, although I have heard the brand has changed)–and yet the business is now booming, whereas before it appeared to be struggling. It just goes to show how important those other aspects of the business are: appearance (how attractive does the business look to people driving by?), service (are the people running the business friendly?), and quality (I’ve heard the new ice cream is delicious compared to the old). Take those three things out of the equation and a business is going to have a hard time attracting, let alone keeping, customers.
Sometimes all it takes to turn things around is a fresh new look, a renewed sense of pride and enthusiasm on the part of the staff, and improved quality of the product being offered. Other times businesses need complete overhauls in order to be successful once again. Either way, the people who own the business need to be ready to step outside and ask themselves some tough questions. It might require some objective opinions as well in order to make sure everything is being thoroughly covered in the analysis. Perhaps an effective way to analyze a business would be to look at it from the customer’s perspective in the form of a list (again, an outsider might be much better at this than the people who are actually running the business).
In the case of the ice cream shop, for example, it might look something like this: location, appearance of the building, condition of the parking lot, menu, service, quality of the ice cream, presentation, place to sit and eat the ice cream. Those would be all of the things to look at and try to improve. As I said before, sometimes a few little things can be tweaked and can make a huge impact, and other times a business might have to change just about everything.
No matter what kind of business you are, when people see you are making changes and trying to improve, they will almost always be willing to give you a second chance. That’s why it’s always worth doing. On a regular basis, try to step outside of the day-to-day and look at your business critically. I think you’ll definitely see some positive results.