Welcome . . . Or not

I’ve been traveling by car recently, and that gives you a chance to see and experience the country from a different viewpoint than flying does.

On our way into Maine, we stopped at the welcome center. You know where every state wants to appear friendly and fun and a great place to visit and stay awhile.

Now I like Maine. One of my daughters lives here and we’ve been here several times and we’ve enjoyed every visit.

The people are friendly and we like the outdoors and the scenery here.

However, on the way into the state, at the welcome center before you even get to talk to anyone, is this sign.

Every sentence starts with NO.

As much as I like the state, I wondered how friendly they really are.

I understand that they have rules and that they want people to follow them, but how else could they say it?

Now what about your business? It doesn’t matter if it’s online or at your physical location, this question still applies.

What message do people get when they come to your website or business location?

Are they welcomed by the messages you’re posting as well as by the staff, or are they barraged by a string of NOs?

The first time someone asked me about this I was running my grocery store. My first response was, of course, we didn’t do this.

Then I went and looked.

And over the next week, I found several instances we did the same thing.

No shirt, No Shoes, No Service.

No out of town checks

Employee’s Only


It’s easy to get carried away with posting all of these NOs.

The challenge is rewording everything so it gets the message across without saying no.

Like, for example:

We accept cash and major credit cards.

If you’d like to see what’s behind this door, apply at . . .

With a little thought and planning, you can reword the signs to get the message across and still welcome your customers.

Brian “Hanging Out in Maine” Hahn

P.S. Take some time and walk around your place of business or look at your website and see where you might be turning people away from your business. Challenge your staff to do the same and see what you find. Let me know what you find and how you changed it.