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How much do you know about doors and the part they play in the 'curb appeal' of your business?

Doors are more than just entrance ways to your business; they are invitations to shop.

There are certainly some things in life that we all take for granted. No matter how necessary, we still underestimate the value and need for many of the things that we use daily, often until we are forced to think about them by some situation or circumstance.

For example, I'm sure we all would put shelter at the top of our list of neccessities of life, along with food and clothing. Shelter is initially defined simply as a "roof over your head" and gradually more and more components of that shelter become increasingly important as our hierarchy of needs evolve (similar to Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory dated back to 1943). Wikipedia defines shelter as a "typically basic structure or building that covers or provides protection". And, we all know that this so-called 'structure or building' has an interior and and exterior.

As with a business, both a physical and a virtual (online) business, this interior and exterior must not just be functional (a means to store, protect, and display a product), but should also be used to its fullest, such as, to draw customers in and attract their attention to the items or services on display for sale, and to make feel like they must go inside to buy that item.

The exterior of a business has a countless number of design possibilities, yet will always consist of at least one entranceway, let's face it, you have to get inside somehow! What the doorway area looks like is an important part of the 'curb appeal' of your business. This appeal is created through the design, the quality, and the upkeep needed to maintain the desired look.

Here are some things to consider when making decisions about the front entrance to, and the overall curb appeal of, your business. Remember that first impressions do matter.

The best contacts and resources to help you get it done

Shelter starts with protection from the elements, but goes on to include safety and security, too.

Safety and security applies to your business at all times, i.e., before, during, and after work hours During the business day, you want your customers to feel safe in the neighborhood that your business is situated in, as well as inside your store (e.g., safe from crime, injury, fire, etc.). After hours you want to safeguard your business, inventory, paperwork and reputation with a good security system.

ADT has an online questionnaire that can give you an idea of what to consider for your security needs based on some basic criteria, i.e., size of business; number of employees; number of doors; and type of ceiling. Their solutions cover a broad range of security issues, including: burglary; employee productivity; employee theft; vendor theft; robbery / assault; vandalism; worker's comp; slip and fall liability; drugs in the workplace; shoplifting; workplace violence / harassment; perishable spoilage; flood detection; outside safety; and intellectual property loss.

Note: Keep in mind that it is important to have a solid Internet Security System in place for your online business as well.

Get a strong door so a wolf can't come and threaten to 'huff and puff and blow your door down'.

Just like the story of "The Three Little Pigs" consider what kind of door is appropriate for your needs, yet still easy enough to maintain. Know how durable the door and its components (lock, hinges, etc) need to be (heavy or light traffic area)? How concerned are you about things like: break-ins; vandalism; or extreme weather or natural disasters?

Typical materials for business doors include: steel, aluminum, and wood. When looking for a steel or aluminum door manufacturer, be aware of the further distinction there among: industrial, residential, and commercial and institutional markets. To learn a few more basic facts about the U.S. Door Industry, see the online summary of a recent Catalina Research study.

Know what type of maintenance your Entry Door requires.

For your curb appeal to be effective, not only do you need a solid and appealing door design, but you need to keep it looking neat and clean, too. How often do you need to clean or polish your door (especially glass or shiny areas)? How often do you need to paint or re-finish the surfaces? Will it hold up to heavy traffic? Is it weather-resistant? Is it energy efficient or insulated enough? Will it hold up to use or abuse, regarding scratches or dents?

Keep a clean appearance both inside and outside of your store, including the doorway. A sloppily maintained facility will overshadow and negatively impact the best of products. First impressions matter.

Choose a custom-made front entry door / storefront instead of a standard manufactured door.

Even if you are working with a limited budget, it may still be worthwhile to invest in custom-made entry ways, rather than going with generics, especially if you invest in materials and a design that is expected to hold up well over time.

Consider consulting with an expert or spe t in the type of door you are considering.

A company like Steiner Doors that specializes in custom architectural aluminum door and window designs has the experience to recommend an appropriate style for your business and can even incorporate your logo and/or street address into the front entry door's design. These doors can be made to architects' specifications with styles ranging from French Doors, to Herculite Doors, to Custom Aluminum Front Entry Doors (that don't have an industrial look), to Architectural Doors (with styles from the 30's and 40's, a great fit for some cities), to Custom Retail Alumimum Storefronts.

Your physical location is an asset, use it wisely.

Especially if you've chosen to establish your business in a big town or big city, both for the fancy address, but also for the 'foot traffic', be sure that you don't squander that investment by not using your facility as the promotional opportunity that it can be.

Use your facility to sponsor free or invitation-only after-hour events, such as: an Open House; a gallery exhibit; a frequent customer 'Meet and Greet'; a new product line debut; a media invitational; etc. When choosing this option, have some finger food or hors d'oeuvres on hand, and also some promotional products imprinted with your logo and business contact information. Whether it is for an exclusive after-hours audience or as a contest for regular day-time customers, invest in a quality promotional products such as: promotional apparel & caps; promotional bags & totes; pens; keychains; etc.

Learn key door terminology so that you know what to ask for.

It seems like every single object in the world has an industry or association devoted to it. For doors, that holds true. Within this door industry, there is also important terminology to be familiar with.

I recommend: Some door manufacturer's and door industry group's that list glossaries or key terminology lists & FAQs on their websites include: Lowe's; Peachtree; and the Window & Door Manufacturers Association.

Tips & Tactics

Choose a door that is inviting or intriguing, To get an idea of how different impressions can be given by doors, think of how some "doors" have been portrayed in TV and film, such as how doors were depicted in Pixar's Monsters, Inc. animated movie, where children feared what was behind their bedroom doors; or in Alice in Wonderland when Alice was trying to find the right door to get out; or the door in the Twilight Zone introduction that you 'unlock with the key of imagination'.

Windows are an element of your entranceway design that should be both decorative and functional. Depending on the size of your entranceway, whether it is a single or double door, or it is part of an entire store front including display windows, there are many options for your design. For example, think about whether or not your design might consist of: a solid metal or wood door; or just a metal frame around glass panels; or instead all glass with an imbedded or imprinted design; or a blend of metal structure with glass components within the design. The combinations and design possibilities are endless.

If you are investing in a custom-made entranceway, choose a design that is timeless and one that you expect will remain relevant as your business grows.

Keep in mind, too, that should you want to incorporate your logo (and/or perhaps also a building address number) within your door or physical store front area, that the design of that logo should be simple and of an appropriate size that it is legible to those that pass by, and that it is doable by the manufacturer. A metal cutout design probably can't incorporate an as elaborate or highly intricate design or color scheme as easily or as legibly as perhaps an imprinted version might be able to accomplish.


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