Hey, Mr. or Ms. Retailer. What´s that big white thing underneath your business´s sign out front? Could it be a marquee? What´s on your marquee? Is it boring? Is it timely? Does it draw customers into your store, restaurant, or inn?
My favorite restaurant, noted for great food and legendary customer service was closed because its corporate office admitted it couldn´t effectively market the chain. As you drove toward it you passed two restaurants owned by Houston´s Pappas family. Each restaurant had some funny saying on the marquee. Regular passersby always checked to see what the marquees said. The cleverness of the marquees added to the ambience inside. Even strangers knew those restaurants were fun places.
But my favorite restaurant invariably just gave the number to call for takeout. For strangers not familiar with that restaurant, the marquee was a missed opportunity. People kept on driving past it without stopping.
But what if they treated their marquee differently. They could have:
Bragged-"Best Buttermilk Biscuits in Town! (They were, too.)
Been inviting-"Come Inside For Great Food and Great Service! Give us a try.
Been funny-"Ignore those last two marquees!"
Been punny-"We had to fire our personal trainer. He didn´t work out."
Been topical-You´re cold-Our coffee´s hot. C´mon in and warm up!
If you´ve got a marquee, treat it like an employee and put it to work overtime for you. Don´t let it get lazy and slack off. Your marquee should be indicative of the customer service experience you want to create. It can help your customers perceive you as warm and human, not cold and corporate.
Let your employees think of the messages. Alternate funny ones with messages about your specials. Passersby will pay more attention and your foot traffic should increase.
In Austin TX, El Arroyo, a Tex-Mex restaurant is widely known for its funny marquee that changes on a daily basis. The employees create the messages. When a fire temporarily closed it down in 1998 they were undeterred and the next day the marquee read: "If you didn´t like our service, you could have told us."
Their messages are topics at office water coolers all across the city and have played a role in helping the restaurant stand out in a sea of similar restaurants. They´ve gone from one location to many and the nearly free marketing offered by the marquee has definitely helped.
What will your marquee say tomorrow?