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6 Easy Improvements That Draw Customers

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- For business owners with bricks-and-mortar stores, getting customers in the door is always a challenge.

With a lull between Valentine's Day and Easter, the next major holiday season, now is the time retailers can make inexpensive changes to their shops that could reap massive rewards.
There are cheap, simple fixes that will bring in more customers to your bricks-and-mortar store.

1. Optimize store layout and front-of-house presentation.
Getting more customers in the door may be as simple as optimizing your floorspace and improving the flow of customers. Perhaps the store has too much merchandise or it is positioned awkwardly, hindering customers from being able to browse casually through the store.

Small-business coach Paul Foster says business owners should review their store layout and traffic patterns.

"An outsider can walk into a store and start discovering issues, but because the owner is there every day they don't see it. I would ask the frontline staff how the traffic currently flows through the store and where the hot spots and cold spots are," Foster says. "Based on this information, they can revamp the layout for better use of the space."

Kate Koziol, CEO of K Squared Communications, adds that a bricks-and-mortar store should have well-lit and attractive front windows.

"Many business owners overlook the dirty window or barking store dog that would discourage customers from entering," she says.

2. Refresh/implement support staff training.
Store owners may also want to make sure their staff is educated on all of the products sold and using sales protocols that you as a business owner put in place, Foster says.

"Never assume that all the employees, including part-time [workers], have the product knowledge required to obtain a sale," he says, suggesting that owners ask vendors or suppliers to come in to showcase the products you sell.

He also suggests enlisting "secret shoppers" to determine if the staff is using the sale protocols that they are supposed to be using.

"Although you may have explained the sales systems to your employees many times, it is still possible they aren't following them," Foster says. By using secret shoppers "you can find out firsthand what the customer experience is really like. It's best to have them show up when the owner is not present."
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