"Scavenger hunts in the store are not allowed."
That was the sign on each of the doors when I visited my local bookstore recently. It was typed in large, bold letters and printed on a single, white sheet of paper then taped on the inside of each door. Absolutely no way one would miss it when entering.
Granted, I do not know what transpired to cause my local bookstore to feel the need to put up signs like these to deter the rampant scavenger hunting that occurs in this area -- perhaps it is pervasive across the country too but I am not sure.
What I do know though is that there are better ways to handle this in order to make the greater percentage of guests entering the store feel wanted.
* What if they decided to actually allow the scavenger hunts? In fact they could help coordinate them, determine the rules of the "playground", set them up on Tuesdays and invite the families to participate -- even offer coupons for Cafe items during the hunt. Might lead to greater sales. At least it would lead to higher customer satisfaction.
* Rather than post the scavenger hunt signs, what if they used that space to promote the book, cd or dvd they want to sell? Everyone entering that store knew not to conduct a scavenger hunt because it is prime market space -- use it to move merchandise or tell customers of an upcoming book signing, kids event, etc. They could search for other ways to share the "anti-scavenger hunt" theme that would be less intrusive.
* If, at the end of the day, the need to quell the scavenger hunt idea is too great then surely there is a way to communicate it more gracefully and appropriately. What if they said, "Unfortunately we have had to suspend any future scavenger hunts within the store until we locate the "lost" family who played the last time. If you see them while browsing please let us know and thank you for shopping safely."
Instead, the sign on the front door interrupted my experience and the coffee just wasn't the same this time.
Remember there are a myriad of ways to say the same thing -- even when you want your customers to cease doing something. Think about what you are communicating and look at it through the "windows" of your customers' vantage points before posting.