BY RUSS ALLRED Contributing columnist
As we finish the last bites of the leftover Easter ham, the memory of that savory, smoked meat with a hint of brown sugar is solidified in our minds. All business owners want their customers to remember them fondly. They are sometimes enticed by advertising professionals to update what artists call their brand with a new logo or website. Slapping a new graphic on an old business is like putting lipstick on a pig. Regardless of how kissable the lips look, it's still a pig.
If a business owner truly wants to occupy a pleasant place in the customer's mind, the transformation must start on the inside. This requires a commitment from the owner, much like the comparison of the participants in a country breakfast. To the chicken, breakfast is but a contribution. To the pig, it's a commitment.
To effectively brand a business, the owner must create and perpetuate a package of pleasant experiences for the customer. It's not enough for the diner to serve good food; the customer wants a clean and inviting dining area, clean restrooms, polite wait staff, pleasant music, easy ingress and egress and ample parking. A strong brand will embellish the experience with an attractive logo.
If an entrepreneur can create a positive perception on a local level, she should recreate the business in other areas. Growth is the epitome of a high-performance entrepreneur. It needn't be greed that drives a business to grow. In fact, a great service is always welcome and expansion could be your generous contribution to another community. It's just an added benefit that growth helps you to bring home more bacon.
You may ask, "How now brown sow?" How does a small business expand when banks are more selective of the deals they will leverage? One expansion tool that an entrepreneur should consider is acquiring a similar business, one that hasn't begun the commitment of rebranding and may be distressed. With a reasonable down payment, the seller will often finance the balance of the purchase price. The successful business buyer can then update the business and expand the brand.
-- Russ Allred, MBA, is a business consultant and author with Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.