In an industry where image is everything, being unique and having the right image to attract customers is essential. Is the image others have of your store the one you want? How do you know what potential customers think about your shop? Shops, like people, have distinct personalities. Do you know what your store’s image is?

It’s not easy to figure out what your present image is, but with a little effort, you can get a pretty good idea without having to fork out big bucks for professional market research.

One way to get lots of information is to have your friends and shop employees talk to riders on the hill. Ask them where they shop, why, and what they think of your store. You may find that the image people have is very different than what you want it to be. They may think you are expensive, customers may be intimidated by hardcore employees, or consider your shop to be “ski” and not true snowboard. All of these things affect a customer and where they decide to shop.

How can you create an image or change one? First, decide what you really want your image to be. Make sure it’s different than the image of your competition, and then, figure out the best way to tell your customers about your store. Do you want to be known as the ‘core shop, friendly, technical, inexpensive, specialty, crossover, trendy, family-oriented, top-end, service- oriented, funky? Pick one or two. You can’t be everything to everyone.

The most common way to reach a lot of people and to influence their perception of your shop is through advertising. Locally, newspapers and radio are effective, but special events, rider sponsorships, direct mail, mags, and TV are also successful ways to create or reinforce a store image. Most important, be consistent. Mixing messages is confusing to the customer. The product you carry, people you employ, your company logo, and advertising should all be saying the same thing about you. Staying true to your shop’s image will bring in people who identify with you and stay loyal to you.