You may not have thought much about the “curb appeal” of your HVAC business. You’re probably located in a warehouse on the outskirts of town. Nobody but your employees and vendors see the place, and a buyer will seldom make a visit a priority when considering how much your company is worth.

After all, you’re not a Tommy Bahama store trying to impress your high-potential customers.

Physical location matters because it’s an outward indicator of how well the business is run. You want a safe and clean environment for your employees and new hires. If the place is run down, dirty, and neglected, it can give people the idea that you’re not paying attention to details – or that you don’t think much about working conditions for your staff.

So if you have a year or so before you’re selling the company, it makes sense to invest a little sweat equity and clean up, repair, and freshen up your location. It’s a small investment that may pay off in recruiting and retaining talent.

But your curb appeal goes way beyond the actual curb. Your vehicles, company uniforms, website, advertisements – they’re all part of your overall brand. And your brand is a reflection of you as an owner and manager. What story are the details telling about your company?

Vehicles that are old, dirty, disorganized, and in need of repair make an impression on both employees and customers. When they’re driving around town, they are your brand representatives. (They’re also company assets a buyer will pay attention to when evaluating your business.)

Pride of ownership should be part of your brand standard, so employees who show up at customers’ homes with dirty, wrinkly uniforms are sending a message that they’re not invested in quality service.

Your website is the first part of your brand that customers and buyers will see. It’s a critical component to getting new business and making it easy for your current customers to reach you. If yours isn’t a clean, modern design with clear navigation, upgrading it’s worth an investment. Your website is also a great place to display testimonials and reviews; I’ve written before about the power of Google reviews and the influence they have on a buyer’s first impression. Digital curb appeal matters even more than physical curb appeal.

If you’re on a short timeline to sell, you may not want to invest much in working on these items. But if you’ve got a year or two left, consider some repairs and upgrades. This is probably your slowest time of the year, and a good time to make strategic decisions and improvements before the summer rush takes over all your time and energy.