Are your customers reading the signs you are posting? – Denver Business Speaker

Denver Business Speaker

On a recent business trip to Tucson, AZ I had a little extra time and spent some of it walking around the very retro and funky downtown Tucson. As I walked I noticed a lot of signs posted outside of the businesses there that just didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Signs that surely are posted in just about every major downtown city across America,  but for some reason they stood out to me that day. Signs stating “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone” and even one store with a “No Trespassing” sign on the front door as customers walked in (or in my case as would be customers walked by without going in).

And while I have never understood the logic in putting up these kind of signs, for some reason I noticed a lot of them that day. So my question is this… Why would anyone want to put either of these kind of signs up in their business? For one it makes the place seem unruly in my opinion. Secondly it offers no advantage, only discouragement to potential customers. According to “businesses that carry a Right to Refuse Service sign are subject to the same laws as businesses without one.”

So how does this apply to those of us who don’t have a store front with signs of negativity plastered in the entry way? Well go to your website and carefully read the text. Then have some friends or colleagues do the same for you to get a second and third opinion. While you may not have a sign with negative words, your promotional material, website, business card etc. can also carry the same message without you even knowing it. Be careful in statements pertaining to what you cannot or will not do for your customers. Ask yourself if these statements need to be there up-front or if this is something that could be addressed in a contract or over the phone where you can politely explain why you cannot do what it is that the customer might have otherwise expected of you. And if the statement must remain in print, can you surround this negative statement with one that illustrates what it is that you can do while politely explaining what it is that you cannot do at the same time?

The signs I saw in Tucson were blunt and visual, but I see toned down versions of these signs everyday in marketing material on websites. For instance, once I looked into taking a motorcycle training class and they had a statement on their website “If you are late for the class FOR ANY REASON you will not be admitted and your tuition will be forfeited.” OK, can anyone think of a better way to write the same thing without scaring off customers. I bet anyone reading this could.

Even the previous example is fairly extreme, so really read through your material and see how changing your words can change the level of optimism about your business. Using softer language and eliminating any negative warnings that don’t need to be there will throw out a welcome mat instead of a roadblock to new customers.

Until next time…


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