Unfriendly Signs Are Bad For Business

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Imagine you stroll into your local self-serve frozen yogurt shop and see this sign:

Image credit: Jeff Toister

Image credit: Jeff Toister

The business hung the sign because a few people would come into the shop, load up on samples, and then leave. This sign was the response.

But what does this sign really say?

It’s unfriendly. It discourages you from lingering. It almost feels threatening, as in “You’d better find a flavor you like or we’ll charge you!”

There’s a better way to handle this.

  • Do nothing. What’s really the cost of a few free samples?
  • Talk to people who abuse sampling on an individual basis.
  • Have employees give out sampling cups to encourage friendly interaction (and sales!).

I’ve previously written about unfriendly signs here and here. These were two places I haven’t returned to. 

These signs usually point to a bigger problem. A lack of trust. Poor customer engagement. And lost business opportunities.

It’s a self-serve yogurt place, so the cashier usually stands behind the register waiting to ring up customers. There’s typically a lot of downtime in between. 

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Why not encourage sampling?

The cashier could suggest a new flavor or recommend toppings. He could do a lot of things to engage with customers. This might actually justify the tip jar that otherwise inexplicably sits in front of the register.

Shep Hyken recently wrote about a similar experience on his blog. He made this excellent suggestion for business owners:

Don’t make a rule because just one or two customers (out of hundreds or even thousands) abuse your system. In other words, don’t penalize all of your honest customers for the sins of a few.

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