Saying No To Business.
My buddy Mike and I were driving back to the Albuquerque airport early on a frosty November morning. We had just enough time for a hot cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito before we took off for New Orleans.
Before long we passed a sign for “Cesar’s Mexican/Greek Diner.” It looked like the perfect spot so we turned around and pulled into their parking lot.
We hopped out of the car and were confronted with these two signs on Cesar’s front glass:
- “No soliciting. Shoes & shirt required. This is a non smoking (sic) restaurant. No bills larger than $50 accepted. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. No refunds/returns/exchanges.”
- “No public restroom.”
Even though all of us see these kinds of signs often enough to ignore them it’s still interesting to take a moment and think about what Cesar’s was doing.
They were saying no to business.
Clearly, Cesar’s employees have been bothered by solicitors, barefoot diners, smokers, and people who expected to pay for their meal with a one hundred-dollar bill.
Of course they’ve had to deal with unreasonable customers who wanted their money refunded.
And surely their time has been wasted by non-customers who wanted to use their bathroom.
But are those enough hassles for a business to tell us all the reasons we’re not welcome there before we even set foot in the place? Are those good reasons for saying no to business? After all, the only things Cesar’s left out were “Our food sucks” and “If I were you I’d be leaving.”
Lucky for my readers Mike and I were willing to venture inside simply because I wanted to see how else Cesar’s could try saying no to business and turn us off.
Needless to say, we were the only customers inside the little diner.
The counter clerk was a master at what my father used to call “friendly incompetence.” And the guy who took our money (Cesar?) made it quite clear that he was not the slightest bit interested in us being there. Luckily the coffee was hot and the breakfast burrito was surprisingly good. But just in case they weren’t, the receipt warned us that even though it was “extra delicious,” “complaints in person with the food” would still get “no refunds.”
At least they were consistent in saying no to business.
Okay, okay, I can hear you chuckling from here. And yes, it is easy to laugh at Cesar’s egregious practices. But sniff at your peril. Because if you do you’ll miss the opportunity to improve your business and your brand. So instead of judging, why not look at your business systems from your customers’ point of view? See if you’re unwittingly throwing obstacles in their way and saying no to business.
Are you saying no to business?
- Does your automated reception system make it too hard for customers to actually reach you?
- Does the CAPTCHA on your blog make it too hard for your readers to leave a comment?
(Honesty forces me to admit that I’m guilty as charged, btw).
- Is your website a non-responsive holdout from the dark ages of 2014? (Ouch again).
These little problems are all ways you’re saying no to business and reasons for your customers to look elsewhere. After all, it’s not like they can’t find what you do somewhere else. And as we’ve said so many times before, in today’s connected world the function of your business is simply cost of entry.
Instead, it’s the way your brand makes your customers feel about themselves that creates both value and desire. And that’s how to differentiate yourself from the clueless companies by simply thinking about your customers.