In January, I had my first formal visit with a counselor from the George Mason Small Business Development Center (at their Fairfax location). When the coordination staff called me in February to ask if I'd like to have the counselor come on-site to visit the store and provide suggestions/feedback, I jumped at the chance! We scheduled the meeting for Tuesday, March 6th after 4 pm.
The counselor arrived right on time and took a look around. We spent time discussing the way that traffic flows through the business (where do they walk/look first), the set-up, the displays, and the "reasons why" behind particular decisions. We then sat down to chat further about display and marketing options.
She liked the layout of the store, the color scheme, the dressing rooms and mirrors, and the wide aisles. She also thought I had enough merchandise in place to not make it look too empty (or too full). Her one major suggestion was that I consider installing some additional track lighting on the wall displays to draw people's eyes to them. I had wanted to do that at the time of buildout but things were already so pricey that I held off on doing so. It is definitely something I'll look into for the future.
We talked about some of my latest marketing initiatives and she felt I was on the right track. One thing that intrigued me was the concept of taking what I had learned through Software Usability studies (who are we designing for? What are they like? What are they going to need?) and applying it to more narrowly defining my customer. This was timely as I had recently discussed a marketing idea with an outside representative who was able to paint a VERY specific picture of their customer.
My customer can really vary. A great example was the woman who walked in the store yesterday with her son. She was 83 years old and found something she wanted to buy. She's not my target market but I do find women who are that age have found things they like in my store while I've also had a 12 year old find items in the store (she (with Mom footing the bill) has shopped here more than once). Most of my customers fall in the 30 - 60 range. Lots of food for thought!
What is hard to believe is that I'm now planning for Zoe's first birthday celebration! I met with the ladies from The Enchanted Florist this morning to discuss an arrangement for the round table for that weekend. And with the beautiful spring day in front of us, I couldn't resist these tulips!
Next up: Planning for Zoe's first birthday!