An open and shut case

After location, location, location, the next most influential factor in real estate is the concept of curb appeal. How many times have you driven down a street and hoped that the "For Sale" sign will be in front of the beautifully landscaped home with a stunning front door.

Nearly 35% of buyers make their decision about a house within the first 5 seconds of reaching the front door. It's true in restaurants too... but to a greater degree. The 12" x 18" area above the door handle is the most frequently seen surface, and it's often the first visual impression your guests receive. What message does your front door convey? Is it welcoming, impactful, and reflective of your brand? Or does it say:

No dogs allowed?

No shoes, no shirt, no service?

No loitering?

The front door may be the only indication to a potential guest as to what's inside. Since you have about 3 seconds to "make the sale" What do you want to convey? Here's a checklist of the "basics":

  • Is it clear from your front door that you are a restaurant?
  • If you have more than one doorway (as a result of expansion or remodeling), is it clear which is the main entrance?
  • Is it clear how to open your door? You know...push or pull? Everyone hates to try and fail the first time around.
  • Does the door open and close easily? Warped door jams or sticky knobs and handles make the guest work to get in. Not a great start to the dining experience.
  • Is the signage used well-placed, crisp, clean and looking like new?
  • Is any written message clearly understandable and relevant?

What else should you put on the front door? The most effective use of the space is to feature a four-color photograph of a signature product. It should be a professional image, and mouth-wateringly detailed. Accompany the photo with nothing more than the name of the item to create an almost subconscious pre-disposition to order the dish. I hope I don't need to remind you to select one of your signature items with a high gross profit contribution.

Resist the urge to post rules, your menu, reviews, or other detailed signage. If you have lots of foot traffic and adequate storefrontage, post these away from the door to avoid a bottleneck in the doorway. Southern architecture features a gracious wide stairway to the front door. It's called "welcoming arms." That's the feeling you want your customers to experience when they visit you.

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