New Coat of Paint

June 15, 2009


It struck me this morning how faded some retail businesses look right now. On a drive through South Austin I passed a Hollywood Video. The bright blue had faded beyond pastel. Like all the other businesses in the strip mall. Like the other strip malls I passed. They all blended together. Is this how we feel as a business community? Faded, battered and weathered?

In a down economy, improvements can wait. It makes financial sense.

But whoever bucks that trend will stand out. If I had a store in that strip mall right now I’d give it a fresh coat of paint. Bright and cheery. Everyone who drove past would notice my store and know that I don’t plan on closing my doors anytime soon. At the cost of a new coat of paint. There’s your ROI.

You make impressions on customers, prospects and bystanders every day. What message are you sending? Are you telling them that you’re white-knuckling it through the recession, hoping to be lifted by a rising tide before you hit the rocks? Or are you telling them that you’re optimistic and in it for the long haul?

You probably don’t run a Hollywood Video in a strip mall. But you’re in some kind of business. Tell me – what’s your version of a new coat of paint?

Photo by Mess of Pottage


5 Responses to “New Coat of Paint”

  1. Michael Hickey Says:

    Great post, Russ. This has me thinking about how it applies when you tighten the lens a bit. Meaning, given the current business environment where so many friends, family, or co-workers have been given their walking papers, it’s easy to hunker-down in the tall grass, plug away, and wait for things to get better. What would a fresh coat do for the individual? In essence, how great would it be for all of us to embrace a bit of vibrancy, roll up our sleeves, and jump into what we do with a new sense of energy and optimism?

  2. rsomers Says:

    Thanks Michael! You’re insightful, as always – a new coat of psychic paint is perhaps even more important for the individual than for the corner business

  3. Tim Walker Says:

    The parallel for individuals: dress smartly.

    When I presented to the Job Club several weeks ago, I was struck by the variety of attire of the people walking through the door. The folks in suits looked slightly overdressed, but they — along with the folks wearing the equivalent of a golf shirt + slacks — were certainly ready to talk business if an opportunity presented itself. I had to wonder about the folks in ragged jeans and flip-flops.

    Dress for success, both literally & metaphorically?

  4. rsomers Says:

    Perfect parallel from experience, Tim – thank you for that. Neither a coat of paint on a business nor a sport coat on a person really changes what’s inside.

    How much of our focus in business and relationships is spent on the ‘big idea’ or game-changer? Might it be better spent on recognizing that what’s inside is already pretty nifty and packaging it to show that off?

  5. Tim Walker Says:

    Your last idea is a fine one, Russ. In some fields/markets/circumstances, you really need the game-changer. But in MANY cases, you can actually stick with the basics, so long as you do them impeccably.

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