I went for lunch today at Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli in the Highlands area of northwest Denver. While I don’t go there frequently, I do like their food and atmosphere. But they are in trouble and they might not even be aware of it.
While eating lunch I noticed a young man photographing the street signs on the corner. “Odd behavior” thought I. After a delicious lunch and great conversation, on the way back to my car I saw another man taking a picture with his phone. It looked like he was shooting the street. Not far from him was a man on his phone and I overheard a snippet of conversation that went something like “well I want a police officer out here to look at this.”
Maybe I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but it wasn’t until I was half way back to the office that I realized someone had stuck a flyer on my rearview mirror. Only as I pulled it out did I realize that my “flyer” was actually a parking ticket. Then of course I realized why everyone else was acting odd. They too had gotten tickets.
In a tough economy it is not unusual for police departments to become more stingy in their enforcement. Today was apparently street sweeping day and if you stopped to read the small print perhaps you’ll see that on the signs (though with the way folks were behaving, maybe not).
But what happens to the stores in the Highlands area, particularly popular restaurants like Heidi’s? I can certainly tell you that I am less inclined to patronize Heidi’s again.
This is the law of unintended consequences. Something that is pretty much out of control of Heidi’s Deli is harming their business. The people who are paid to protect those businesses and neighbors are actually driving away customers.
What could Heidi’s Deli do about this? They do have some options. They could have their staff ask / warn customers about police eager to ticket. They could put signs in the doors, with warnings. They could work with the city and the police department to figure out a better way to handle parking issues. They could even put yellow tape along the part of the street that runs by their property with a warning. All of these could help their situation and make them into heroes for their customers. On this day, in this situation, they did nothing which hurts their business even more.
So what does this have to do with a blog on Internet Marketing (other than being a venue for me to vent about the DPD)? Everything. Look at your web site. What might be happening on or around your site that is driving people away just as surely as the Denver Police Department is making it clear I shouldn’t do business in the Highlands?
These factors could be things that seem out of your control but they might not actually be. Is your domain name easily misspelled? If so, people might be going to the wrong site. Unless of course you think to purchase common misspellings of your domain and capture that traffic back to your real site. Is your site hosted on a slow server? If people have to wait they simply won’t. They’ll move on to a site that is faster. But you could move your site to a faster server and keep those visitors.
Just like Heidi’s needs to be aware of factors outside of their store that could affect their business, you should be aware of and work to mitigate factors that could affect your web site.