The Building Doesn’t Make the Business

How important are your building and location to your business’s success? I ask because, on my recent visit to a few CarHop stores, I learned something important about this subject. Specifically, branding and sticking to your brand promise.

Aurora Store v2To give you some background, when it comes to opening new locations, CarHop tends to move into previously used spaces rather than building new stores from scratch. It has been a successful facet of their business model, but it leads to an interesting aspect of their stores – no two CarHop stores are the same. At least, physically.

Some are larger and more open (such as the former restaurant space in Burnsville, MN), while some are small and more confined (such as the former gas station space in Omaha, NE or the old Sonic Drive-In in Kansas City, MO). Although many businesses rely on each space they occupy to look and feel the same—Sonic, Target, etc.—as part of their branding efforts, CarHop doesn’t have that luxury. So they have to deliver on a different level.

They have to offer a distinct brand promise that doesn’t come from a building’s shape, size or signage.

Colorado Springs v2See, it’s not the building that matters when it comes to a CarHop experience. It’s the people inside the building that really make the difference. CarHop promises customers they will be “Helping People Drive®  with honesty, fairness and respect,” and each and every CarHop employee strives to fulfill that promise.

And because employees are so dedicated to keeping that promise, you quickly learn that the space is not the most important part of the CarHop brand. No matter the shape, size or location, CarHop’s strongest brand aspect is its commitment to customers and its fulfillment of that promise. The way customers are treated and the way they react to that treatment is a stronger affirmation of CarHop’s brand promise than any building layout or location.

Can your business say the same? If you had to move into a building with an entirely different image than your current location, would customers still feel as strongly about stopping by your place of business or working with your company? If you’re not quite sure of the answer, you may want to take a page out of CarHop’s book on customer commitment and brand promise to see what effect it has on your business.

It’s not the building that makes your business. It’s what goes on inside the building that makes the business.

-Mike B.