‘No Soliciting’ Sign on Business - Not good for business?

I’ve noticed lately a trend on businesses to put a “No Soliciting” sign on their doors. It used to be that this sign was reserved just for very professional upscale offices where an intrusion by an unseemly “solicitor” just as that big shot client was waiting to be served could have an adverse affect.

However, now I see it on hair salons, delis, small insurance offices, and dog grooming stores. Oddly, I’ve noticed that the signs are actually more common in areas that are in older, smaller shopping centers. How do I notice these things? I have the mind of an eagle… or maybe a hawk… whichever one can see the field mouse from a mile away. A falcon?

Anyway, how is it that business owners who pay substantially less rent, choosing less-traveled areas, be more inclined to put “No Soliciting” signs on their door? Well, one possible reason could be that these business owners are not “network-knowledgeable”, or “growth-centric” (yes, you heard those words here first). While every business owner dreads the copy salesman, or the cheap art guys (who are those guys?), to put up a “No Soliciting” sign says a couple of things.

  1. It says that you are fully aware of every opportunity under the sun to expand or improve your business and that no one coming in the door could have anything of value for you. Is this true of you?
  2. It says that, even if you aren’t fully aware of every opportunity, you have no intention of spending $1 more to improve or grow your business. Is that really true? What message does that send your smarter consumers (like me?)
  3. Oddly, you are in business to get business, thus you yourself are a “solicitor” of sorts. Perhaps it indicates some sort of self-loathing. You hate to market, advertise, and ask for business; therefore, you hate those who also do it.
  4. The biggest source of new business for most small businesses is by networking. While the copy salesman may have nothing to offer you (maybe you don’t use a copier, or you just signed a new lease last month), it doesn’t mean that a polite treatment of him or her couldn’t give you a new customer or referrals. While he or she may be “on the job”, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a real person with real money in their pocket who is at your door, and may know about 100 to 200 people around town. Don’t be a fool and give up an opportunity to speak to everyone who walks into your business. Learn about them. You might be surprised if you haven’t tried this before.
  5. This violates Salberg’s 12 Commandments of Business - Rule 7: Always avoid negative images and wording in your business. (Notice I didn’t say “Never use…”). The word “No” is a turn-off. It can never be construed in a positive manner. Please use it with your children and your spouse, but not on the general public. Signs that say “No checks”, “No soliciting”, “No loitering”, “No cash on premises” are stuff people must glance at and absorb into their psyche before doing business with you. You are casting a negative image. If someone loiters, go talk to them - learn who they are. If someone robs you, tell them there is no cash on the premises. They certainly aren’t going to challenge you by saying, “Well, there was no sign telling me that!”. I’m sure if I robbed all the “No cash on premises” locations around town (and got away with it), that I could live pretty comfortably for a while.
  6. It isn’t helpful. A true salesman will never look at that sign or care about it. He is convinced that he isn’t soliciting you at all, but bringing you a product or service to help you. You can point to the sign all you want and say “no soliciting”, but, frankly, it makes you sound like a dweeb to refer to a sign that you created as some sort of “higher power” under which you are bound. If you aren’t interested, politely tell the salespeople as such and then… learn who they are.
  7. Lastly, it isn’t truthful. Like most “no” signs, there are exceptions. Be a truthful and honest businessman. If a person walked up to you and said, “I’d like to know if you would be interested in advertising….”, are you automatically going to say “no”? Aren’t you at least curious to know what the opportunity is? If not, you may be headed quickly into bankruptcy. At the very least, you could use his/her information to compare your present advertising program. If Bill Gates, Mel Gibson, or maybe the City Mayor walked into your store and offered you a personal check for services, would you refuse it? Of course not. So, be honest and take down those negative signs.

Technorati : business, no soliciting, signs

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