October 16, 2018
Embracing Change in Your Business
Small business owners can be particular. And they can be fussy. And often, they can be blind to the change that needs to happen.
For three seasons on Small Business Revolution – Main Street, Lynne Robertson has been providing retail advice and solutions to lucky business owners. Her attention to detail and her deep knowledge of the customer experience has been invaluable to retail shop owners who tried to do it all themselves.
Enter Benjamin Golley, owner of Today’s Beauty Supply in Alton, Illinois. In business for 17 years, Benjamin knows the products he sells, and he knows what his clients like. He is a master of customer service and when someone comes into his shop, they feel like they are home. But at the same time, Benjamin has been operating his business the same way for all that time, and he needed a push to shake up the flow of the space.
Robertson is CEO and owner of Fame, one of the most innovative and creative retail branding agencies in the U.S. Robertson leads a talented team of designers, innovators and creative leaders to help clients achieve exceptional results through graphic design, identity and brand management, online and digital engagement, social media promotion and so much more.
In 2016, she joined Amanda Brinkman and the Deluxe team of marketing experts to provide advice to retail businesses in Wabash, Indiana. Last year, she played a pivotal role in revamping Polka Dot Parlor in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania. This season, she set out to work with Benjamin and his beauty supply store, which caters to an African American clientele.
As Robertson has learned in the years working on the show, change is hard for small business owners. Normally, Robertson and her team at Fame work with large, corporate customers. They design intricate layouts and customer experiences that attract people to the spaces and seek to move product. With small business owners who have been operating in a certain manner for a while, the idea of revamping their space is daunting.
As Robertson has pointed out the last two years, sight lines are important. At Polka Dot Parlor, she couldn’t see through to the back of the store on the first visit. This gives customers anxiety in that the flow of the space seems cluttered. Less is more in retail.
Benjamin stocked his shelves with hundreds of products, some of which were no longer selling. Upwards of 20 percent of his inventory was stagnant. That was the first thing that needed to be changed, according to Robertson. Second? Sight lines. The cash register area was cluttered. He needed a station for wigs, which were spread out around the store. And he needed a table at the front with key products that would move quickly.
As an owner, Benjamin was reluctant. He’d been operating a certain way for 17 years and his customers were happy. But he’d never had professional advice like this and once he embraced it, it made more sense. Robertson and the Fame team suggested an entire new layout for the store, to showcase products that sell and to make sure customers felt welcome. That was important to Benjamin.
One of Benjamin’s goals for Today’s Beauty Supply is to serve as a community gathering space. He wants people to come in and spend time, and not feel like they have to leave right away. So Robertson and her team designed spaces where customers could try different products and feel like they could “linger.” Working together, Benjamin slowly saw the wisdom in the changes and how it could impact the business.
In the end, Today’s Beauty Supply received a complete overhaul, with new flooring, new lighting, new paint and shelving. The sight lines are improved, as is the customer experience.
Robertson and Fame normally work with clients with bigger budgets and larger footprints, but few provide a great sense of accomplishment than working with small business owners.