Write a sign worth reading

The other day, I pulled up to a local retailer to pick up some merchandise that I had ordered online. The sign said open but the door was locked. On the window was a note:

“Dear valued customer, we are on a short break. If you need immediate assistance, please walk around the corner to the main office. Our front desk person will be able to assist you. Thank you.”

I walked around and the front desk person was unable to help me, citing that she had to stay at the front desk to watch the phones and that the rest of the staff was having their Christmas party.

No problem, I will come back another time.

It did get me thinking, why not say that the company is having a Christmas party? Why call someone a valued customer when they are more worried about who might call? Why say someone can assist you when no one actually could? What is there to hide? I think they would have been better off writing:

“Hello, thank you for stopping by. We are currently having our annual Christmas party. In order for everyone on our team to participate we had to close the shop for two hours and will return at 1:00 pm. If you were hoping to pick up a shipment, we are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you. We know your time is valuable so as a token of goodwill, attached is a coupon code for 15% off your next order. If you can’t come back at a later time, walk around the back through the side door. We have hors d’oeuvres and drinks for you while we finish up. Thank you again for supporting us throughout the year.”

The lesson: The person who is standing at the door is more important than the person who might call. Take the time to write a better story. Getting people to buy in, to enroll, is not easy but worth it.