Home Business Insights & Advice Why making your business accessible is great for growth

Why making your business accessible is great for growth

by Sarah Dunsby
20th May 24 11:09 am

Growth is a concept all businesses aim for, but not all of them aim for it in the right way. Sure, you need to build on your capital and your market share, and you should think about opening up secondary branches in different parts of the country.

However, it’s easy to forget about one crucial element of opening up the market: building on your accessibility. If you want customers to have confidence in your business, accessibility should be top of your list.

After all, around 16 million people in the UK have a disability of some kind – that’s nearly a quarter of the entire population. If you’re not taking steps to serve this side of the market, you could lose out on a good portion of revenue. Accessibility pretty much guarantees a return on investment!

2024 should be the year your small business takes on an accessibility challenge. If you want to bring in more customers and have them return time and time again, you need to look at the ways you can make shopping easier for anyone who could come through the door.

Growth is never a one time thing, and accessibility helps to keep that ball rolling. Check out the reasons why down below.

Valuing equal opportunities means you hire the best

And when you hire the best, you’re going to expand from the inside out within a matter of months. Disabled people are a crucial part of the job market, and if you don’t value their insight and expertise when it comes to growing a company, you’re not going to have hiring practices worth their salt.

Being accessible when it comes to hiring is all about careful consideration. No candidate’s CV should be tossed out, and all applications should be reviewed with the same careful eye. You don’t want to alienate your potential employees by cutting them out before they’ve even got the chance to make a real first impression!

Once you’ve hired them, don’t let the best of the best go to waste. If you value accessibility, you’re also going to provide more training initiatives for your staffing body. This allows for both business growth and personal growth; more skills on the CV means a higher chance for pay rises and promotions. Highly trained staff who know they can carve out a career with your business makes for a well motivated, hard working payroll!

Indeed, showcasing your care for the community brings that same care back tenfold. Your internal staff aren’t just towing the company line – they’re giving as much back as possible, simply because it feels like they’re part of a real time. You’ve made the working world more accessible for them, you’ve made your business more accessible for the customer, and you’ve brought in a lot of good will as a result.

The current market values inclusivity

15% of the UK’s population is made up of ‘Generation Z’. This generation makes up a very strong and diverse part of the current market, and their values have been documented in market research time and time again. They want a business to incorporate ethics and sustainability into their day to day, and a big part of that is how they work with a disabled client.

If you want to bring in a younger generation that knows what they want from the businesses they shop with, accessibility is the best (and easiest) place to start.

When you can prove that you’re an accessible business, it’s going to be a lot easier to attract new leads. Social media is currently the best place for this, with your website and other elements like a blog coming in second place. Be upfront and honest about the way you’ve changed to be more accessible, and how things work behind the scenes.

Interviews with staff, snapshots from your working hours, and feedback from customers are three great ways to showcase this.

Remember, you don’t want to completely change. You just want to make your business a more inclusive place to be. Your marketing will have already brought in great results, but a small shift in what you say and how you back it up can increase your ROI in the long term.

Indeed, you don’t want to forget about the other generations that make up your customer base, but you shouldn’t ignore the expansion into the younger market that you’re currently missing out on.

You provide a better service to all customers

Accessibility isn’t just necessary for the disabled portion of your customer base – accessible adjustments serve the majority of your customers.

A ramp outside the building works wonders for those in wheelchairs, but if someone has trouble climbing stairs because they’re getting older and less mobile, it’ll open up your business to them as well. Disability is often invisible and you’ll never know just how many potential customers you could be cutting out of the bargain.

It’s why you should rethink your tech adaptation as well. Say you run a private healthcare office. If you’re accepting patients on a nationalised insurance scheme, you should actually use a program like NDIS software built for NDIS providers to keep track of their cases. The programs already exist to help with your expansion efforts – you just need to download the right ones.

If you don’t, it’ll be easy for observation notes to get lost, files might not save properly, and it’ll be harder to assign priority to those who need it most. But if you plan ahead to prevent these complications, you’ll have a robust digital system to make use of. Without one, it’ll be much harder to be seen as a legitimate business who has their customer in mind.

There’s less chance of a lawsuit

It might not immediately spring to mind, but if you’re not inclusive in your business habits, you could have a case served against you. If a customer or employee feels they’re being discriminated against based on their ability level, you could end up spending thousands on lawyer fees.

It’s not the main reason you should be incorporating accessibility into your workplace, but it’s definitely going to be a contributing factor on your side. Lawsuits can break small businesses, no matter how well equipped you are with an emergency fund. You need to have policies and practices in place that prevent them from being served at all.

Of course, people can still slip and fall, things can be knocked over and onto people, and someone may trip and bring down a load of other customers with them. Even if you keep the floor clear and widen your aisles, accidents happen. Accidents, however, can be dealt with.

Your website will get more visits

Don’t forget about digital accessibility. Your website is likely going to be the first thing your customers find, and if they click through to the site and it clearly isn’t made for them, they’re going to shop somewhere else.

Digital accessibility comes in various forms. It can be as simple as using non-clashing, easy to see colours in your layout. It can also get a bit more complicated, such as assigning a tab order or making the layout screen reader friendly. Whether you’re being visited by someone who is blind or someone recovering from carpal tunnel surgery, you’ve made your website a nice place to be.

Did you know that making your website mobile friendly is a way to make it accessible? Even just this simple, already commonly adopted method of increasing access makes life easier for a disabled customer.

Working closely with an experienced webmaster can make incorporating these changes a lot easier. They’ll already know what an accessible website looks like and will help you to achieve the level of inclusivity you’re going for.

An accessible website is much nicer on a search engine’s eyes as well. If you’ve arranged the site in such a way that top priority content comes first, and people only need to use a keyboard key to navigate through it, robo crawlers are going to find it easier to index as well.

And if you’ve got ALT Text on all your images, you’re likely to use your targeted SEO keywords a few more times (although you shouldn’t stuff them in), which can be another influencing factor on how highly you rank on a results page. Higher up, more clicks!

Is your business accessible?

An accessible business is a sustainable one. A small business that goes the extra mile to widen their doorway for a wheelchair and adds screen reading functionality to their website is going to be ten times more popular than a business without any of these things. Think about it – that could be any one of your competitors.

If you want to grow, start with these changes that often end up on the sidelines. A good business understands that disabled people make up part of their customer base. If you want to be an amazing business, you take steps to level the playing field.

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