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The Value of Storewide Signage Audits

by DW Green — November 5, 2010

Earlier this year, I visited a wonderful supermarket chain in the southwest. It is an excellent supermarket company, with beautiful and well-merchandised facilities. Since it was going to be my first visit, I did some advance research about the company. In doing so, I learned that the business was committed to, among many things, delivering exceptional customer service and exceeding customer expectations.

So you can imagine my surprise when the first thing I saw before walking into the store was a large sign announcing the store’s security cameras, the penalty for shoplifting, and a warning about the $25 fee for returned checks. I can tell you that the sign didn’t make me feel too good about the store, or myself. I imagine that from a legal perspective it is wise, perhaps even necessary, to warn the public in advance about these types of policies and procedures, but it doesn’t set the stage for a warm and welcoming shopping experience.

Store signage can have a significant impact on a business. Signs set the tone for customer visits and the employees’ work atmosphere. Their appearance, placement and word-choice make a lasting impression. Signage also sends a strong message to customers about whether or not a company cares about them and their business.

A storewide signage audit can identify any customer-unfriendly signs that require modification. For example, you may want to:

  • Take off any “no” or “don’t” messages that appear in your signage.
  • Try using signage that states rules in positive terms, with “please’s” and “thank you’s.”
  • Reword the harsh rules. Try “we would appreciate…” or, “to help serve you better…” as lead-in lines.
  • Place a welcome sign and mat at your front door, or a “we’re glad to see you” sign near your entrance.
  • Put thank you signs on cash registers with verbiage such as “we appreciate your business” or “thanks for shopping, come again soon.”
  • Make every sign in the store a positive action sign, a sign that says yes. The best signs make people smile or feel good about reading them.

When is the last time you conducted a storewide signage audit? How often do you conduct them? It’s a very good idea to consider doing storewide signage audits quarterly to make sure that the messages you’re sending to customers are ones you feel good about.

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