What in the world does that sign mean? Warm and fuzzy customer service.

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What in the world does that sign mean? Warm and fuzzy customer service.

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I was in a small town outside of Knoxville last week when someone suggested a good restaurant for lunch. As we approached the door I saw this sign.

Even the first reading left me cold. I felt like they didn’t want my business nor me. I thought it was just me so I asked my companions what they thought. My companions were business owners; I thought I would wait for their comments. I thought I might just be a little touchy.

Actually I didn’t say anything for a minute but before I could, my friend Chris made a comment.

“What’s that all about he asked, don’t they want us here?”

“It sure doesn’t seem like it”, said his wife Sheryl.

Why would they put such a sign on the door? Were they trying to teach us a lesson? What was the lesson? Stop eating here or you’ve been really bad so we won’t be here to greet you.

Both Sheryl and Chris are business owners; in fact owners of several business. I was consulting with them about their business and helping them find ways to increase their customer base.

The more we talked about it, the more annoyed we became.

The sign made us think of other things: is the food fresh, are the employees annoyed, will they spit in our food?

Why not just say we are so busy that we’re giving our employees an additional day off. Thank you so much for being loyal customers.

The sign would have made us smile and feel good about being customers. Not signs that make us wonder what the sign ‘really means.’

I never forget the sign on the garden centers, “closed until Spring.” Like we might not know they’re closed for the winter. I would really like to see a welcoming sign inviting me in for an ice tea when they open. It would really be nice if they had the opening date on the window.

Winter in the northeast is really a drag; even if you ski and love winter sports. The first snow is pretty, then it gets dirty and annoying.

What about a sign that says, 250 days until Spring, petunias coming, new types of roses. Notes that tell us we’re unforgettable and they can’t wait to see us.

I have an idea about stupid signs.

Make your customers feel positive, Negative signs really are a turn off and really should be used as a last resort. Maybe when you’re turning off the lights for the last time and really don’t care.

The last thing a customer should see is a smiley face not a sign taped to your cash register saying you’re going to charge them $35.00 for a bounced check. Will the $35.00 make a customer think twice before they bounce a check?

I actually saw another sign that said ‘if you pee on the floor you clean it up.’ When I read that sign it made me kind of want to pee on the floor. I actually hadn’t thought about it until I saw the sign.

Tell me what you  think about the sign.

Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through customer service training and social media marketing. Her book, Red Hot Customer Service can be purchased from her web site, www.Lisbethcalandrino.com.

She can be reached at Redhotcustomerservice @nycap.rr.com.


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By |2017-03-03T12:07:02+00:00March 24th, 2013|Blog, Customer Service|10 Comments

About the Author:

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning trainer, entrepreneur, and blogger and has spent over twenty years developing custom tailored marketing and customer service programs for businesses. Her recently published book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 Sizzling Ways to Heat up Your Business and Ignite Your Sales defines the steps necessary to build a competitive advantage and turn great companies into unforgettable or red hot companies. Lisbeth admits that much of her knowledge came from her Italian grandfather who despite very little formal education and a limited English vocabulary, managed to became both successful and wealthy. Lisbeth has wonderful stories about Grandpa DiBiagio’s and her time spent learning how to managing Grandpa’s fruit stand. Because of Lisbeth’s experience as a business owner, having been the managing partner and owner of 7 furniture and carpet stores for 14 years, she is able to bring her extensive business knowledge and experience to all of her clients. Lisbeth’s awards include executive of the year award from the International Executive Association, Albany chapter (a business networking group) and first place honors in an international marketing contest for alternative medicine. A two time cancer survivor, she has spoken extensively about her experiences of cancer, offering words of comfort and inspiration. As an activist, Lisbeth has initiated and contributed to many charitable causes. She has worked with at-risk youth, spoken out against injustice and advocated to and helped to build resources for women. As a presenter, Lisbeth Calandrino is highly motivational, information-rich, and very entertaining. Her acute business sense, contagious enthusiasm, positive energy and fun sense of humor make her a dynamic presenter. Lisbeth is a member of New York, Historic Albany Foundation, educational director of Business Referrals Networking Group and member of the board of directors of the Animal Protective Foundation of Scotia, New York.


  1. Cindy black March 25, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    I agree the sign does nothing positive to help the business. We have certainly seen some very slow weeks at our business but if anyone ask things are great and busy everyday. It’s important to make the customer feel that your business is the place to shop or eat whatever it may be. A positive message along with a smiling face goes along way with building great relationships with customers and keeps them coming back.

  2. Lisbeth Calandrino March 25, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    I think you’re right; customers don’t want to know that your business stinks–it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth including your employees. It also makes me wonder if I should do business with you. Thank you for the insightful message.

  3. Mikeal Jensen March 26, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Reminds me of a sign I saw in a restroom – there on the wall in front of the commode, so you had to stare at it (sorry if this is too much info) “the best compliment you can give us is to refer your family & friends”. Well placed, cause let’s face it, you got nothing else to look at. And well said – “we like you. bring everyone back & we’ll have a party!”

  4. Lisbeth Calandrino March 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Mikeal, I like the last part of your comment the best–about the party. Today I heard about a restaurant posting a Tweet about a customer who didn’t keep their reservation and didn’t call. Another company is charging for “looking.” Sounds like desperation to me. Thanks for taking the time–see you at Coverings.

  5. Lisbeth Calandrino March 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    This was posted with Georgia’s permission. Quite inciteful. Hi Lisbeth 

    I feel that the sign, was negative too much information on it..…funny I once had a waitress tell me , “ I hope your not on your lunch break, where short handed and Our boss does not like getting his hands dirty”. Ugh…and I was on my lunch hour…I stayed, but it took too long for my lunch to come and I got an upset stomach because so many negative thoughts came in my mind. I was even afraid to use there bathroom..lol

    Positive, feed back ..Positive speaking and writing…no matter how negative the people may be around you “don’t allow them to steal your joy” I always say 
    Funny, we have a new showroom, very modern and very open..We have a huge two sided billboard with Crossville logo…I have had so many walk-ins. My first walk-in customer, barley opens our door looked in and asked me “Can I afford anything in here”? I smiled went to greet her took her hand introduced my self and looked her right in the eyes and said but of course, come on in.
    And preceded to help her find just the right tile she needed and higher priced than what she thought she wanted to spend..mind you she told me “I have been to 599 showrooms” and “I finally found my one stop shopping place”. Yeah….

    I will let you know how fabulous our GRAND OPENING goes, not sure when yet..but will keep you posted and send you photos.


    Georgia Guerra Lozano
    Design consultant

  6. Lisbeth Calandrino March 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Another great comment. Good Morning! Thanks for the great comments Jennifer.

    “What Does the Sign Mean?” here are my thoughts…

    First, it has Negativity all over it! Bold black lettering, “due to lack of business”, “we will no longer…” all negative

    Here’s what I would do…Pump up my customers & rather inform them of the “real reason” why we wouldn’t be open on Mondays, inform them of exciting events/specials that will be taking place other days of the week. “Starting this date, we will be closed for team building training to better serve YOU our customer”

    For example: My Dad owns a steakhouse “Butch’s” (my Sister manages it for him), yes having a restaurant is a challenge but they make it so fun! After seeing “the books” throughout each year, they look at highs & lows in traffic (college town, football season, hunting season etc…). So, to keep business steady & bring in more customers, each holiday (St. Patty’s day, Valentine’s etc…) they have a HUGE “to do”! Costume contest on Halloween etc…Three years later & they are making a name for themselves!

    I think good business starts with a Positive Attitude! We need to think of ways to turn every “negative” into a positive!

    I hope you all have a great week! Looking forward to seeing all of you again soon!

    Jennifer Roecker | Showroom Consultant-Austin
    512-836-7700 jroecker@crossvilleinc.com

  7. Lisbeth Calandrino March 27, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Brenda Phillipson–thanks for the great comments.
    Love that Jen, you are so right. I thought the sign was very negative as well. I think it’s a bad idea to write a note or to tell a customer how bad you think things are. I think no matter how bad things might seem to you telling the customer is never a good idea. That restaurant needs some inspiration, and tips for good customer service. Thank you Lisbeth so much, for being one of our inspirations while in Nashville.

    Comment from Lisbeth: My experience tells me that customers are your biggest fans and want you to succeed–why discourage them?

  8. Lisbeth Calandrino May 22, 2013 at 8:21 am

    Georgia, I love your note and the waitress’s comment. At least you know where the owner stands and you’ll never have to eat his “personal” cooking. Being negative has never helped a business and taking the high road is always the best shot. I always think of it this way–how would my comments look in print? I want to know about your grand opening–did I miss it? I want photos and I’ll blog about it. Thank you so much, Lisbeth

  9. Lisbeth Calandrino May 22, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Mikeal, I like your line–“we like you, bring everyone back & we’ll have a party!” Imagine if every business felt this way–the retail experiences would be fantastic. Lisbeth

  10. Lisbeth Calandrino May 22, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Cindy, a positive message goes a long way–you’re right. At the end of the day most of us reflect on the events–we should feel good about what we’ve done. Lisbeth

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