Lutefisk. It is one of the national dishes of Norway. To make it, catch yourself some cod, clean it, cover it in salt, leave it to dry for a couple of weeks until it is the consistency of tree bark (a metaphor for texture, not taste), and store it in a dry place. Before you eat it, soak it for two weeks in lye until it becomes jelly-like. Gently parboil it and serve it with boiled potatoes and a white sauce. It is most often eaten in the winter months. While an acquired taste in the United States, the mere mention of lutefisk will warm the heart of any Norwegian (from my experience, either with nostalgia or heartburn).
Lighting maintenance is one way you can literally draw customers to your store and increase sales.
But this isn’t a culinary column. In the 2000s, my com-pany managed convenience stores in Norway, and I enjoyed the opportunity to explore the nuances of lutefisk.
My colleague, who was stationed in Oslo, said that he loved living there in the summer, where the sun never sets. His favorite activity was to go out for a game of golf after leaving the office, often finishing the round at midnight or one in the morning because it was still daylight. Of course, if the sun shines all day during the summer, that means it nearly never comes out in the winter. Doing business in such an environment really underscores the importance of lighting your stores, both as a security mea-sure and an alluring beacon.
Thus, winter in the U.S. al-ways makes me ask: Have you looked at your store lighting lately?
Lighting has a big effect on how customer view your stores. In fact, I recommend a monthly preventive maintenance program to ensure proper lighting year-round.
Check Under the Canopy
If you sell gasoline, the fuel canopy is the first thing that your customer sees. It needs to be bright and inviting. Check that all of the lights on the sides of the canopy are clean and lit. Are all of the bulbs inside the signage cans working properly?
If you are still using florescent or halogen bulbs under the canopy, think about converting to LED lights when you can afford to do so. They last longer and give off more light.
Don’t Neglect the Parking Lot
The space between the canopy and the store needs to be well lit, too. This provides your customers with a sense of security when they need to walk between the two places or if they are going to park to enter the store.
Make sure that you have flood lights on the top of your building or adequate pole lights in the parking lot. Importantly, the lights need to be calibrated and adjusted so that they don’t shine in drivers’ eyes or annoy neighbors by putting too much light through their windows.
Remember the Inside of the Store
Your store should be brightly lit to let everyone know that you are open and ready for business. A well-lit store conveys two messages to the customer: safety and hospitality. If your store is well illuminated, the customer can see from their car that it is a safe area to enter and, if something bad was to happen in the store, people outside will be able to see it and respond.
Great lighting needs to be combined with clean and clutter-free windows so that it creates a “goldfish bowl” effect; you can see everything that is inside the store from the outside.
In short, every month inspect all of the lights on your property. Clean those that are dirty. Replace those that are burned out. Bring in a certified electrician to repair any fixtures that are not working properly.
Like moths to a flame, people are attracted to well-lit spaces. It is one way that you can literally draw customers to your store and increase sales. Selling lutefisk? I’ll leave that decision to you.
Published in: CSP Magazine – February 2022
Roy Strasburger is CEO of StrasGlobal, a privately held retail consulting, operations and management provider serving the small-format retail industry nationwide. StrasGlobal operates retail locations for companies that don’t have the desire, expertise or infrastructure to operate them.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.