You are running a little late for your early Monday morning meeting regarding how to attract new customers. The fresh blanket of snow is beautiful but has not been removed from your business parking lot. You navigate to a place near the front door and park. Getting out of the car puts your shoes six inches in to the snow so you jump up over the curb and the step to the front door, unlock the door, push the recently delivered boxes to the side and start your day.
Business has been slow this winter and your meeting involves brainstorming how to attract and increase the flow of new customers through the door. Your advertising and marketing plans are on track but you feel there is something within your grasp that would increase the flow of customers to your business, but what is it? A van pulls in your parking lot, hesitates for a moment, and then leaves. Your staff discusses why that potential customer did not come in and what could be done so they would have come in to do business? This entire morning you were looking at the situation but did not see it.
The potential customer in the van was an individual who used a wheelchair to transport himself through his day. What did he see that same morning? The new blanket of snow was beautiful but needed to be removed from the parking lot to give him any chance to get in to your business. There was a car parked halfway in the handicapped spot and the curb cut was not shoveled. Even if the snow was removed the step to the front door would inhibit him from entering. This individual wanted to do business with you but you did not see any of those barriers.
There are 54 million individuals in America who have disabilities, making them the largest minority in the U.S. The National Organization on Disability reports that this group represents $1 trillion in annual aggregate consumer spending.* All of these people are your potential customers! Are you aware of the guiding principles to create equal access for all individuals to get in to and throughout your place of business? If your potential disabled customer did get in your door would he have been able to navigate past the boxes?
The Minnesota State Council On Disabilities (www.disability.state.mn.us) provides businesses with literature and advice on how to make their place of business accessible to consumers and employees. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III public accommodations must comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment. Even if your business does not fall under Title III making your place of business accessible, and marketing that accommodation, will provide you the opportunity to tap in to this very large population of consumers.
Your desire to increase the flow of new customers to your business may start with a few minor adjustments to make your business accessible AND remembering how important it is to maintain these accommodations. Look around and see how these adjustments can allow that van to park instead of pull away.