Ratchet Up Your Mechanics Business!

The running of any company that deals with the public is always a challenge. Running an auto mechanic business is a dandy of a customer service industry because they are entrusting you with their vehicle, and we all know the issues that arise when we put our car in for a service! We always end up getting charged more than we think and there’s that barrier between the customer and the service. This is because there are so many things we don’t know about fixing a vehicle that we worry about getting swindled in the process. So what can we do to set up an auto mechanics business that delivers what it promises?

Organization Is Essential

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It may sound blatantly obvious, but keeping this type of business organized can be quite a task. The layout of the shop floor is something to think about in this respect. Health and safety in an environment where there are tools and heavy machinery is priority number one. Having lubricants and oils out in the open can cause hazards. Keep all your tools in a secure place after they have been used will reduce the amount of trip hazards, and having your layout in such a manner that it is appealing to the customer will help too. Another method to keep your business organized is to use various technology, like computerized accountancy tools. Suppliers of oils, lubricants, and other essentials are an essential part of keeping organized, and instead of going for various suppliers, you can work with just a handful to keep your costs down. This is a better way to keep track of your outgoings. This is especially useful if you are a one-man band and you find yourself doing many different roles in the company.

Customer Service Is THE Skill You Need

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While it is possible to make repairs and charge through the nose for them as much as any other auto mechanic, the issue many customers have with these types of businesses is the trust factor. People feel that when they go to get their car fixed that they are going to get done over in one way or another. What is the answer? Communication! This is the key skill to build a bridge with the customer. A lack of communication is the reason many people begin to distrust because they are not being kept updated on the car and this lack of trust can begin to fester. Before you know it, they will not be bringing their car to you ever again. A few ways to counteract this lack of trust is to let the customer know how long you will be with their car, or give them an estimated time frame. Honesty is the key to building effective customer/business relationships. You could put a statement or a promise on your wall that sets out your aim to provide trustworthy and honest services. Ultimately to run a business like this effectively you need to promote trust and loyalty from your customers, and this can only be done if you are trusting, honest and reliable first.

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You Won’t Believe How Technology Can Help Your Manufacturing Business

Small-scale manufacturing businesses have become highly popular in the last couple of years. People like the idea of local companies manufacturing products for other local businesses. As such, the industry is booming, and you can easily get involved if you want to.

The main reason so many manufacturing startups are popping up is thanks to technology. Technology does a lot of good for these businesses, and it can help yours too if you have a small manufacturing company. Just look at these points for more info:

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More Hands On Deck

What’s great about technology is that it can be used to help you do more work without having to hire more staff. For example, look at some large-scale operations where they’re using robotics to carry out certain jobs on the production line. This means they save loads of money by not having to hire hundreds of workers. Then, on a smaller scale, there are things like 3D printers that you can programme to carry out a task without you having to do much. You just create a design, and the 3D printer gets to work. This means things can be created by machines and affordable equipment rather than having to employ lots of people to make them by hand. In essence, you can have more hands on deck at all times.

Extra Precision

One of the beauties of using technology in your manufacturing business is that you can utilise things that make your work more accurate. There are loads of companies like Mills CNC that sell equipment which uses computer numerical control technology. Essentially, this means the equipment uses a computer to turn a digital design into a physical product by converting it into numerical form. It converts the design to numbers, and the numbers are used as coordinates for a cutter to find the perfect path and cut out the exact shape that was in the design. Sounds complex, but it really makes life much easier for small manufacturers, particularly ones that cut shapes out of metal or other sheet materials. You can be more accurate, which means you can provide products that are as close as can be to your client’s specifications.

Saves Money

As alluded to in the previous points, manufacturing technology can actually save your business a lot of money. How? Well, it comes down to numerous factors that add up to make technology a really sound investment. For example, as mentioned earlier, you can use technology as a substitute for human employees. What does this mean? It means you don’t have to worry about their salaries, sure, but it also means you don’t have to worry about so much more too. There are no employee benefits to pay for and, perhaps most importantly, you won’t need that big of a premises to conduct your work. If all you have is a few machines, then you might get away with running your business from your garage. As a result, you save thousands every year on premises costs.

You see, technology can work wonders for you and your small manufacturing business. What are you waiting for? Take advantage of it today!

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The Most Efficient Ways to Get Work Done on an Airplane

Anyone who’s spent sufficient time at 30,000 feet can tell you that there are two types of travelers: those who use their time in the air to lounge, and those who recognize it as an opportunity to log work hours without the distractions of a typical office.  For the latter, air travel can provide the perfect environment in which to expeditiously knock out some of those tasks you just know you won’t get to on your own time, but finding the sweet spot for working on a plane takes some preparation. From investing in the right technology to timing your trip right, here’s how to make the airplane your second office.

Invest in noise-canceling headphones: Perhaps the single best piece of advice for those eager to make the airplane their second office is to invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. While flights are often full of loud announcements, crying babies, and seatmates eager to comment on the in-flight movie choices, a pair of noise-canceling headphones can keep all of those distractions to a minimum.

Prep your space: While home may offer plenty of space to spread out, from spacious in-home offices to communal work space, like the library lounge at Manhattan luxury tower 53 West 53rd Street, airplanes aren’t exactly known for being roomy. To make sure you can work efficiently on the plane without having to reach for your bag every two minutes, bring a few accessories that will make it easier to turn your seat into a sky-high office. Use the seatback pocket to hold documents, make use of the tray table as a desk, and keep any odds and ends, like pens or paperclips, in a pencil case tucked into your seat.  

Plan around the flight schedule: Knowing when you’re allowed to use your electronics can make a huge difference in how much work you actually get done on the plane. Instead of starting your work and having to close up shop when the stewardess says so, wait until you’ve reached cruising altitude to bring out your computer — otherwise, you’ll only waste time packing and unpacking it.

Make yourself comfortable: Airplanes may not be as comfortable as a traditional office, but there are plenty of ways keep working on one from being torturous. Bringing little accoutrements that make things easier and more comfortable, like an inflatable neck pillow, wrist rest, or even just your reading glasses to use when your contacts start feeling dry, can keep you from burning out.  

Give yourself a break: Being productive on a plane doesn’t mean keeping your nose to the grindstone from takeoff to landing. Taking a few breaks to stretch your legs, have some water, or reading a chapter of a book, can help spur your creativity and keep the temptation of in-flight movies and duty-free shopping at bay.

Don’t let those precious hours on the plane go wasted. Taking just a few small considerations before boarding can make even the most turbulent trip the perfect opportunity to get some extra work hours in. Happy travels!

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Client Communication Is More Complex Than You Think

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There’s more to client communication than equipping the sales team with the right information and message. It goes much deeper than this. Client communication impacts each point at which you connect with your clients and potential clients. It starts at pre-sales and continues right through to delivery and beyond. Here’s how to nail each step of the funnel.

Connection Points

The first step is to identify all points at which you connect with your customers. This includes future customers you’re trying to attract. Think of all those points at which you communicate in some way and make a list. This includes your website, social media, email newsletters, general correspondence emails, ecommerce emails, premises, signage, ads, staff interactions, blog, forums, meetings, events, etc. It’s likely to be a long list. The key is identifying the connection points, creating a powerful and on-brand message, and then ensuring it is shared consistently at each connection point.

Get Your Team On Board

Many fledgling companies fail in one basic element. They put together a beautifully crafted message but fail to convey this to their staff. Communication includes everyone, including your team. If staff are not aware of your business objectives and your communication strategy, you won’t be able to project a consistent message.

Digital Communications Including Those Forgotten Areas

When businesses think about communication, they tend to think about spoken or written words. However, it incorporates much more than this. Branding and design make up a big part of your communication strategy. If you look at examples of great digital design, you’ll see that they project a clear and powerful message to their intended audience. This is something that all great design shares.

Often it’s those areas that we forget about that have a surprising effect on their intended audience. For example, 404 error pages. These are the web pages that are displayed if you click on a broken link. Rather than opting for a boring or standard page, use this as a creative opportunity to connect with your customers. They’ll remember you for your creativity rather than the broken link.

Another area that is often forgotten or woefully underused is in e-commerce messages. If you have an online shop, there will be many instances in which you communicate with your customer. These include receipt pages. These are the pages that tell customers that their order has been submitted, etc. Also included are the emails that you send to customers to let them know that their order has been received and dispatched. Often companies use templates for these messages, which is a wasted opportunity. Don’t revert to default text, think of ways to make the information more interesting.

Social Media

Social media is an art. It’s about being sociable, emotionally intelligent, quick to spot opportunities, polite, calm, funny, etc. Your intern who has no commercial experience when it comes to social media is not the best person to manage this for you. You need someone with expertise in this area. They need to be able to sell your company and services, without appearing to do so. They need to like and get on well with people and have bags of common sense.

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Premises

What does your office say about you? You may not have business premises yet and work from home, but rent meeting rooms for client contact. Or you may have taken that next step and moved into a serviced office space. Depending on your situation, you may have limited scope in terms of customising that space. However, there are simple steps you can take to create the right impression and communicate your ethos, brand, and message to customers.

  • Ensure premises (both inside and out) are spotless and tidy at all times
  • Display your signage prominently so that people can find you
  • Choose furniture, artwork and other accessories that reflect your company ethos and values
  • Ensure your dress code is consistent and portrays the company image
  • Be creative and find ways to make customers smile or take note

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Personal Contact

The contact you and your staff have on customers will be vital to your success. Even the tiniest details count, such as how you answer the phone, your voicemail messages, and how the staff interacts with each other. When a customer visits, if staff members are gossiping openly about inappropriate subjects without getting on with their work, this will be noted. So too, will be the smart receptionist who greets them with a smile and arranges a coffee while they wait. How well your waiting area is arranged will also be noted. Grab their attention at the earliest possible opportunity. Make them feel welcome and comfortable.

And Finally

When a customer has purchased a product or service, it doesn’t end there. Always follow up. Ask questions to find out how you did and whether you can help with anything else. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Find out what customers thought went well, and ask for suggestions for improvement. This information is invaluable and will help you to readjust and improve your offering.

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Creating An International Workforce

It’s an increasingly global world, as we’re sure you may have noticed. Like no other point in history, it’s possible for you to A. be location independent, meaning you can run your business from anywhere that has a stable internet connection, and B. hire staff from all over the world. Whereas beforehand you would have been limited to hiring locally, now you can bring in players to your team from across the globe. A social media expert from London? No worries. An online sales member from California? No problem. Here’s the ins and outs and some of the benefits of creating an international workforce.

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Getting the Best

Of course, there has to be a reason why you’d choose to look further afield for your staff. They can help keep costs down, but that shouldn’t be the primary motivation. Instead, you should see as an opportunity to get the best people on board with your company. Your catchment area for talent will be significantly larger than what it is at the moment. Before hiring, draw up a list of attributes that the ideal candidate would possess. You can aim high, because there’s every chance that there’s someone, somewhere in the world, who has those skills and would like to work remotely!

Where To Find

You won’t be using your local newspaper for this recruitment drive, oh no! Of course, as you might expect, it’ll be the internet that is your biggest friend here. Start by posting the job on your website. If you already have a decent following, then it’ll get seen – and talking to the people who take the initiative to see what jobs are out there and then apply are most likely the type of candidates you want to be interviewing. You can also use platforms such as LinkedIn to headhunt your next employee. There are many job boards out there, some of which will be dedicated entirely to the type of role you’re trying to fill, but be prepared for this to be a more complicated process. Job board postings receive many replies, and only a fraction of these will be qualified to do the job, let alone be the best in their field.

Setting Up the Rules

Once you’ve found and successfully interview your employee, you’ll have to work extra hard to “set up the rules”, as it were. Due to international time zones, it can be difficult all be online at the same time, but you can still create a general working pattern, tailored to the employee’s time zone. For example, you might make it such that a worker needs to have their work complete by a set time that works with your own working routine.

Working Effectively

The biggest issues you’ll face it how to create a unified, functioning workforce when you’re scattered all over the world. This is where you can use the latest technologies and software. For example, you can get Sharepoint help for any business; this will allow you to collaborate on projects and documents, which can then be accessed by anyone in your team. You may also set up a weekly video call conference between all your staff members; getting the timing right for everyone might be difficult, but create a set time for each week and it’ll naturally become part of the working week. Finally, if trust is your concern, then there is software available that enables you to track the amount of time your worker spends actually working.

Problems and Challenges

For all your best intentions, you’ll still run into the occasional problems that naturally arise from having distant workers. Country specific holidays, when the whole workforce of a country shuts down, might come in the middle of your busiest period. How you handle that will be up to you, but it might cause resentment if you don’t allow them to have the time off. Similarly, illness can be difficult to determine, as there might not be the same protocol of doctor’s notes and the like where your remote worker is based.

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Finances in Order

Hiring a remote worker is different to having a regular employee, and you’ll have to fill in different paperwork for these workers. Depending on where they’re based, you might have to automatically deduct taxes from their wage, or they may be responsible for it themselves. National insurance contributions and other financial concerns might also be an issue, so make sure you take a good read of the .gov employees page to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.

Staying On Top Of Everything

After you’ve hired your staff, you’ll benefit from the windfall of fresh enthusiasm and a new employee’s eagerness to please. However, once the initial honeymoon period has cooled off, you’ll have to work extra hard to create a motivating, can-do workforce, because they’ll be “work environment”, as such, to speak of. When you hit a busy period in an office, everyone steps up their game as they can see everyone else working hard. There may even be benefits, such as lunchtime treats and so on. When a worker is working alone, from home, many miles away from the base of the company, it can be more difficult to keep them motivated when times get tough.

Final Thoughts

While there are many clear advantages to hiring remote workers both domestic and abroad, it isn’t for every company, so make sure you sit down and determine the pros and cons of taking your company down that line. Like most other things in life, it’s best to have a balance between remote and local workers. An onsite team allows you to take advantage of their local knowledge, helps to establish a company culture, and, on another angle, helds to burden the pressure of running a company – remote work can seem isolating, and you might think you never really “know” your employees. But used properly, they can be a real addition to your team, so give it a go and see how it works out!

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Help! There’s A Client In My House!

When you run your own business at home, you will know that you operate very differently to how a regular office does. For starters, there are no set work hours – which is why you probably find that you have perfected the art of self-motivation on a daily basis! But one of the major differences you have compared to regular office workers is that when your clients come to your business headquarters, they come to your personal space. Some people find this intrusive, which is why they end up renting office space away from the home in order to widen the gap between work and play. But for many people, running their business at home is what works perfectly for them. However, it does require a certain amount of skill. For example, when clients are visiting your home – for a meeting or a consultation, perhaps – you have an image to uphold. Here are some of the ways you can make sure that your home is client friendly, 24/7.

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Have a strict cleaning routine

Picture the scene: it’s Thursday morning, you ended up going for drinks with your best friend last night and you’re sporting a bit of a sore head. The doorbell rings at 11am and you practically shriek in horror: you’d totally forgotten that you’d scheduled a client meeting for this morning and the house is a mess. No customer on earth is going to take you seriously if they are stepping over a discarded pair of heels on the front doormat just to get into your house – or if they can see a huge pile of dirty dishes lounging in the sink. If you know you won’t have time to clean in a morning, get it done on a night. Your place needs to be client ready at all times – plus, you will find that you feel more productive in a clean work space too.

Create a pleasant client space

Inviting your potential client to sit on the end of your bed while you discuss a project isn’t exactly the way to go when it comes to running your business from home. If you have space, make a designated client area where you can meet with them and discuss whatever it is they are there for. This could be your converted box room, or it could even be outside during the summer months, providing you have some comfortable seating out there. If you don’t, and you like this idea of having a relaxed meeting in the sunshine, simply browse Bridgman online.

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Be a good host

Just because you are forging a business relationship with your client doesn’t mean that all pleasantries need to go out of the window. In fact, it will probably work in your favour if you do treat them as you would any other guest in your home. Have tea, coffee and soft drinks on standby in case they would like a beverage. Make sure the home is at a reasonable temperature and have a candle burning in the background if you can. Not every business person works from home, but you can do it while still appearing professional and trustworthy to your clients.

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The Golden Rules of Small Business Marketing

Marketing is important to businesses of all sizes, but it can literally prove the difference between success and failure for smaller organisations. An effective marketing strategy will help present the appropriate brand image for a company, which in turn helps converts browsers into customers.

In addition, successful marketing is no longer all about big budgets and expert teams. Even sole traders can market their company effectively, particularly if they follow these golden rules.

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Cast your net wide

Your customers don’t only consume one medium, so don’t limit your marketing efforts to just a handful of channels. Make sure you consider emails, online ads, social media, television, radio, newspapers, trade press, apps and anything else that is available to you. Certain media will suit specific audiences better than others, however, so be sure to tailor your marketing appropriately.

The importance of social

Social media has huge reach and can have a powerful impact. For businesses, it provides a way to connect with an audience in a more personal and engaging way. Content you put on social media can go viral in a matter of minutes, but it also provides a great way of delivering targeted ads. Facebook advertising, for example, gives you access to an audience of almost two billion people and you can use social media data to target specific groups with ease.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Cloud computing is perfect for small businesses as it uses subscription fees in place of prohibitive upfront costs. Cloud-based marketing software ranges from design tools to automation services, ensuring that there’s sure to be an IT solution to suit your needs.

Convert one-time sales into long-term customers

If you’re a small business, you can’t afford to let an interested customer slip through your fingers. If someone buys a product or service, send them a follow-up email thanking them for their purchase and offering them a discount on future buys. If you can, send them newsletters and promotions to keep your brand at the forefront of their thoughts.

Blog for business

A blog can be a great way of introducing some more subtle marketing into your organisation. Instead of directly asking your customers to spend their money, you create interesting content that they want to read. By making them think about current issues or problems that you can solve through your business, you push them towards a purchase without forcing the issue.

Seek out some press coverage

Creating a press release and sending it out to the local media is a great way of generating some extra exposure and the best thing is, it’s completely free. Try to craft a press release that is genuinely interesting, however, to avoid wasting your time.

Protect what you have

As part of your marketing efforts, you’ll generate a lot of useful data. This will concern customer details and also the effectiveness of your campaigns. Both of these are hugely valuable to your company, so make sure they are protected by strong cybersecurity protocols. If this data were to be lost, or stolen, it would hinder much more than just your marketing efforts.

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Making The Leap: From No Space To Office Space

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One of the great accomplishments in growing a startup from humble beginnings to a fully-fledged business is realizing that you are in a position to start thinking about getting an office space set up. This is a big step to take, but it means that the business is making leaps and bounds to becoming an official organization. There are things that you need to bear in mind before taking the leap.

Understanding the legal implications inside and out is the first step to take. The best advice would be from businesses that you know who have made the move recently. Is setting up an office an essential move for your business? You need to be 100% sure that it is feasible, but also that it will prove beneficial for your businesses. Once you have reached the logical conclusions, you need to get help from a commercial property agent who has a deep understanding of your specific requirements. Upon reviewing the buildings to ascertain if the infrastructure is suitable for the amount of tech you will need to move in, you can start to negotiate leasing terms.

Location is imperative to the success of your business. If you are upscaling your business to include creating new business roles and taking on new employees, you will need to make sure that the place is easily commutable. If you are expecting your business to grow, are you going to be staying in the location for long? And if you are picking a central location, this will need to be factored into the cost, as an industrial estate is cheaper but not as commutable. Your staff needs and your business requirements should be reflected in your choice of location.

After you have settled on a space, it’s time to consider the financial impact it will have on you. Running a business from home meant that utilities and building costs were already factored into your living situation. You will now have to factor in rent, business rates, insurance, the technical costs, as well as the utilities. There are many buildings used for business that offers short-term leases, so you can look at your outgoings on a monthly basis and truly factor in if that office space is suitable for you. Once you have crunched the numbers, you can start to move equipment in. There are installation services available for businesses and can help to make the move a lot less stressful than it needs to be. So instead of trying to rent a van yourself and getting help, you are better off getting a company to do it for you. Once the furniture and equipment have been moved in, all the place needs is a lick of paint and a bit of personalization. Don’t forget the essentials like a water dispenser and items like a fridge!

Moving your business to a new location and setting up an office can seem like a mammoth task, but it is the result of all your hard work up to this point. This is your time for the business to shine, so enjoy it.

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Stretch Out Your Start-Up Budget!

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Believe it or not, the start-up costs you need to cover to get your business off the ground are going to be some of the most strenuous expenses you’ll ever need to deal with. Before you start turning a profit and taking steps to grow your business, there are a range of costs that need to be considered and managed as best as possible. Here are some tips for making your initial budget go further…

Stay Flexible

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I’m sure that when you first started drawing up your business plan, you had all kinds of grand visions involving the latest equipment and software, a board room full of expert staff, amazing office parties, and all kinds of other perks. However, if you get too wrapped up in these grand visions, it can make it very hard to stay flexible when covering your start-up costs, and therefore to save money! I’m not saying you can’t achieve all the dreams you have for your business, I’m just saying they should take a back seat for the time being! Consider the possibility of more short-term solutions; affordable, rented office spaces, freelancers and so on. There’s going to be a lot of changes in that initial period, and these short-term solutions will give you the flexibility to take them as they come.

Cut Costs, But Don’t Go Cheap!

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Your start-up costs can add up very quickly, but there are various ways for you to figure out the best areas to spend money, and those areas where you can afford to tighten your belts. If you’re opening a restaurant and you’re planning to market it as a high-end establishment, then things like lavish tableware and luxury restaurant furniture are kind of non-negotiable. However, none of your customers are going to care that much about the brand of the pots and pans your staff are using. There are going to be a range of ways you can shave down your start-up costs depending on your business model and your plans for the future. Two things thing which almost every entrepreneur can save on is digital marketing and website development. There are now countless free tools and resources out there which will help you get your brand’s online presence off the ground.

Review, Review, Review!

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It’s great when new business owners approach their start-up costs with extreme caution, but this is only the beginning of it. Now that you’ve found ways to save on those first big expenses, you need to keep coming back to your cash flow again and again, and making sure that all of your expenses stay on track for you hitting your long-term business goals. Go over your profit and loss each month, compare it to your past performance, and pin down the source of any discrepancies. This will open your eyes to problems long before they actually break. As long as you keep on top of your numbers, there’ll be little standing between you and the business you’re dreaming of!

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If those pesky start-up costs were beginning to overwhelm you, I hope this post has been a big help.

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Stylish and Functional: How to Create a Modern Business Premises

If you’re still working in an outdated building with drab decor and failing furniture, then it might be time for you to upgrade. Not every business demands a modern decor arrangement, but if you’re trying to stay trendy and want the best for your business, then modernising your premises is a long-term investment that will pay for itself very quickly.

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Modern is attractive

Let’s face it, people like a modern business. They like those large glass panes that let people see into their store. It gives them a window to see what goes on inside of your business, what you sell and how many people are inside. On the inside, large windows let in an abundance of natural light which illuminates the room and reflects off glass tables and reflective surfaces, which in turn fill the room with even more light to create a clean and crisp environment.

Modern businesses also pave the way for modern advancements. A cluttered business won’t have room for things like computers and electronic store devices if there’s no room for it. Things like electrical cables and power outlets need to be hidden in the walls unless you want your customers tripping over cables. With easier access to increased power outlets and wiring conveniences, you can install devices such as monitors, touch-screen devices and more to make your customer’s shopping experience easier and more fun.

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Furnishing your premises

Clean and reflective surfaces are key when it comes to furnishing your business. You can get solid surface worktops that look fantastic, reflect light and are sturdy enough to hold everything from food trays to the heaviest of computer components. For seating, ensure that you have designer-style furniture with a futuristic touch. You want your customers to feel immersed in modern culture, design and also technology.

The inside of your business shouldn’t over-utilise space. Empty space is not necessarily a bad thing as it creates a sense of luxury and openness to adds to the modern feel. Don’t cramp your customers into small areas—let them breathe and move around in your store so that they feel welcome and comfortable.

A good way to open up a dark corner of your business is to add more windows. As mentioned before, large glass panes are great at letting in light and allowing customers to see in and out of your business. If they are large enough and your business is close to the street, it can almost feel like your customers are actually still outside and that they’ve walked into a small closed-off section of the street instead of an actual building. With clever lighting tricks and seamless glass panes, you can create the illusion of a luxurious and futuristic shopping experience.

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Less is more

When you create a storefront, you don’t want to overload it with too many products unless you are a grocery store. If you sell something unique such as boutique bags or electronic devices, then you want to show off your products instead of throwing them at your customer’s face. One of the most common mistakes in business is to offer your customers too much choice.

If they’re overwhelmed, then they’re more likely to go to another store, buy something simpler or request help from your employee. Don’t overwhelm people in your store by attacking them from all angles with your products—focus on selling high volumes of your best products instead.

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