Every day on my way home from work I drive past an Indian restaurant. From the outside, the business is clearly quite large and it has a large car park out the front. Often when I’m driving past, it is empty. I would assume as it’s too early for most people to go out for dinner. But one evening I was working particularly late on a Friday night and I drove past on my way home and I was really surprised to see the car park was full.
On returning to work on the Monday morning, I mentioned to my colleague about this restaurant and how shocked I was at how full the car park was. He told me that he’d been there and the food was really good.
I had never considered visiting this restaurant and do you know why? The exterior of the building is old and dirty. The signage clearly hasn’t been updated or even cleaned in what probably is years and the car park is made up of rough chalk terrain. There’s been no thought into the exterior ascetics of the building or customers' first impressions whatsoever.
My concern is, if the owners of this restaurant don’t want to invest money or time in cleaning the exterior of the building and refreshing the signage, do they give the same attention to the cleanliness of the kitchen, dining areas and bathrooms? With a plethora of restaurants in the area, why should I, as a paying consumer, take this risk?
I think many businesses under estimate the importance of presenting a modern, clean and clear exterior to their business and this is costing them customers. I know we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to your health and well-being, would you put your trust into a company who go the extra mile to present a modern, clean and tidy business or would you risk it?
So local companies who complain about the big chains, get a grip. If you can’t be bothered to present yourself in a way that is enticing to your customers, you’ve only got yourself to blame. Not to say that the big chains are better, but they often have procedures on how their brand should be projected. So this can be a good place to start when thinking about what matters when it comes to first impressions.
Now the big question is, do I send this article to the Indian restaurant and tell them why they may be losing customers? Am I in the minority here, in terms of judging the restaurant based on its exterior?
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Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Vinyline.