Had an interesting experience yesterday involving another local businessperson who missed an opportunity to easily win a customer. (here's a write-up of the first instance)

We were walking down Franklin Street with our visiting cousin, Mark, when we passed a white-napkin restaurant. I noted that we'd never eaten there, nor had anyone we knew. I also added that I thought the decor seemed a little sterile and unwelcoming.

A voice from behind us yelled, "You'll like it, I promise".

We turned to see one of the staff (maybe even an owner) in the parking lot. I said, "Maybe so, but the atmosphere seems a little inhospitable to me."

Here's how this situation might have played out in a more positive way for the restaurant:

"Why don't you let me buy you a drink or apps/dessert and coffee tonight and we'll see if we can change your mind?"

I'd take him up on the offer and maybe my mind would be changed and I would start telling people about my great experience. Even if it didn't, the downside risk is pretty low for the eatery.

But instead, the dude just repeated himself. "You'll like it, I promise." We kept walking.

Instead of telling me I'm going to love it, why not SHOW me? Why not create an opportunity for me to try your service and your food and see if it overcomes the decor that's been keeping me from coming in. Offering to comp low-margin items like drinks, desserts or apps is a low-cost way to win a new customer. Why didn't this person try harder to get me through the door? Especially someone who's being pretty publicly vocal about why she doesn't patronize your establishment.

Customers want to feel good about where we spend our money. And I, for one, need more than a hollered statement from an employee to get me to buy.

What are you doing to influence opinions about your business? How do you help your employees engage people effectively? Your bottom line could depend on it.