Your entire advertising, marketing and standard of work will revolve around the image you want to give to your customers.
EG: Are you selling key rings to bike riders or key rings to executives?
The image must carry through everything you do and portray. It must also be easy for your customers to recognise.
To establish your image ask yourself and answer these questions.
Do I portray budget, average or quality work?
Do staff and I have a budget, average or quality appearance?
Does the business have a budget, average or quality appearance?
What does my pricing reflect? Budget, average or quality?
Where is my selling and advertising targeted? Budget, average or quality?
This simple questionnaire will give you an idea on how your business is being perceived by your customers. If you find all the answers to these questions instantly puts you in a quality image then your whole image from shop, service, price, appearance and advertising etc must reflect this. The same is said for the budget and average image of a business.
However, if your answers are mixed then you need to find out what image you want for your business. Presently you will be sending mixed messages to your potential customers and this can confuse them or they might not ‘feel’ at ease with your business, but they wont know why. This can possibly lose you sales.
So it is important to find out what image you want and then make the right adjustments in your business to follow that image.
Use the following guide to help establish what image you are currently portraying.
- Expensive products or services
- Exclusive products or services
- Executive style smart dress
- Excellent quality stationary
- Clean, high quality premises
- Premises in an exclusive area
- Carpet, classic décor with few high quality displays
- Colours used highlight gold, silver and black
- Well spoken and well trained and educated staff
- Extended warranties
- Free gift wrapping or a gift wrapping service
- Music or professional advertising while on phone hold
- Background classic music in premises
- Delivery and set up services
- Competitively priced products or services
- Uniforms or neat, casual dress
- Medium quality stationary
- Neat and clean premises of adequate size
- Vinyl or tile floor coverings
- Adequate number of displays
- Colours used generally include white, cream and blue
- Average educated and trained staff
- Competitive warranties
- Radio station playing or nothing when on phone hold
- Local radio station playing in premises
- Generally a bit unorganised with cleanliness
- The cheapest prices
- No uniforms, just work clothes
- Photocopied stationary or in house copies
- Small, compact office and premises
- Vinyl floor or concrete. No rugs
- No tradesmen or well trained staff
- Usually owner operated
- Average to low warranties
- Plastic bag service
- Music from radio can be too load or inappropriateThese are just a sample of guide-lines to make you really look at your business through the customers eyes.When developing an image look at your competitions image. Do you intend to compete on the same level or offer a more expensive service of higher quality or be cheaper and not offer the same services? This decision will inevitably affect your profits. (refer profit % tables A:1 and A:2)
Use these tables to work out exactly how adjusting the price will affect your gross profits.
(Use your last twelve months financial figures to give accurate figures then project the next twelve months)
DISCOUNTING PRICE TABLE A:1
(Your gross profit percentage)
As the table suggests you need to be careful when discounting, as the amount you sell will have to be increased significantly to keep profits where they are now.
Eg 1: If your gross profit is 20% and you discount by 10% it effectively means you need to sell 100% more to keep your gross profit at 20%!
Eg 2: If your current gross profit is 15% and you offer a 10% discount then you will need to sell a massive 200% more to keep your profit at 15%!
Before discounting a line of products or services work out how much business in the current economic climate and whether you can survive if the discounting fails.
PRICE INCREASE TABLE A:2
(Your present profit margin)
This table is the opposite of the previous table with the increase in prices showing that you can lose a certain percentage of sales without it affecting your profits.
Eg: 1 If your present profit margin is 40% and you increase your prices by 10% then you can afford to lose 20% of your sales before your gross profits are adversely affected.
Eg: 2 With a profit margin of 20% you can increase your prices by 25% and lose up to 56% of your sales before losing profits.
This information can be used when calculating staff cuts as well as image shaping. If you are currently working in a budget image it might be worth considering an image and price change. Consider every aspect of this decision before acting on it. Professional advice from your accountant would be advisable.
If you already have an image which is working well then check the following check list for any possible weaknesses that may arise. Always stand back and take a look at your business through the eyes of your customers. Ask people you know to ring your staff and enquire about products or services. Have them record anything they liked or disliked about the service offered and the staff’s abilities. Are you offering everything that you would like from the business?
What image are you portraying to clients? First impressions of your business are made within the first few minutes. Rate yourself on the following checklist for each field between 1 -10. (Rate as ten being the highest)
YOUR QUALITY CHECKLIST
When filling out the checklist remember to rate your business as it is now with the funds available to you. The expectations of number ten should be within your reach and not impossible dreams. Be completely honest with yourself and then begin improving the areas that are most urgent.
Creating the image you want doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise. Changes can occur as business grows. Training staff to be more polite and efficient, having your premises as neat and organised as possible and having pleasant background music playing all cost virtually nothing to put into practice. When these three areas all rate a ten on your check list move onto more elaborate tasks such as organising new and improved signage, giving your premises a coat of fresh paint inside and out or recovering floors. One step at a time. Gradually over time you will develop an image to be proud of.
The check list can be repeated every six months to gauge your progress. Make your own check list that personalises your business and expectations.
A successful image needs to develop with your business.