No food, no drink (and no customers) allowed!

By Micah Solomon – keynote speaker, customer service speaker, customer service consultant, and #1 bestselling author of “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization.” Visit with Micah at

When visiting the postcard-perfect town of Bar Harbor, Maine, I’ve noticed that a social virus of sorts has spread from shopkeeper to shopkeeper. (Perhaps you’ve noticed a similar virus in your own hometown.)  The entrance to nearly every shop now greets you (or, more accurately, assaults you) with a sign similar to this one:

No food, drink, or cell phones bar harbor sign
Welcome to shopping in Bar Harbor: No food, drink, or cell phones











Chris Cambridge, a merchant who is one of the few local holdouts against this tide of “nos,” is aware of the suicidality evident in his compatriots’ approach.  And Chris goes decidedly in the other direction, even though his  Scrimshaw Worshop gift shop would seem to be the likeliest of candidates for a similar customer-deterring sign: It’s perched next door to by far the most  popular ice cream store in town, and probably in the entire state.

Chris understands the  importance of a good ‘‘hello,’’ and has fearlessly (or more likely, in spite of his fears) decided to approach the neighboring store an opportunity rather than a threat. Imagine how many more customers Chris wins by upending the local norm with this welcoming (and brave) statement:


—Just be careful of their drips.


To make sure you know his store is a welcoming place, Chris add the following in a smaller font, as a nod to the pet-supply store that is his neighbor up the street on his other side:

P.S. We love your dogs, too!

Of course, this isn’t an article about the fine town of Bar Harbor, Maine.  Again, my guess is that you’ve found this virus afflicting your town as well–perhaps your own establishment, even. Whether or not you find ways to actively welcome customers as Chris Cambridge has done (and I encourage you to look at opportunities to do so), the first thing to do is to scour your entryways for all “nos.” The ubiquitous “No Soliciting,” for example– what is with that?  How much of your day is actually lost to solicitors compared to the loss of a smile from a subtext of “no” in a prospects mind?

(A bonus post from the College of the Customer archives)