What A Broken Credit Card Receipt Can Teach You About Business

The other day, while paying for dinner at a local wine bar, I stumbled on a major marketing mistake people make.

Yes, this wine bar was guilty of it, but it’s something that you, me, or anyone can suffer from without even realizing it.

And the best part is this: while this mistake is easy to make, it’s even easier to fix.

What’s the mistake? Keep reading.

A Tale of Two Receipts

When you pay with a credit card, you’ll get two receipts: A store copy and a customer copy. As you know, the store keeps their copy, and you keep your copy.

Well, at this wine bar, I looked at the restaurant receipt and the customer receipt and I noticed something extremely unusual…

On the restaurant copy, you had a place to write your tip, your total, and your signature, and that’s it.

On the customer copy, you could write the same things AND your email address for restaurant updates.

Now wait a minute…

Why in the heck would you want people to write their email on the receipt they take with them?

You wouldn’t because it’s pointless! That receipt is broken!

You see, the customer takes the customer receipt. How is the restaurant supposed to grab the email if the customer takes that receipt?

Just imagine how many emails this wine bar loses out on each day. It’s a major marketing mistake, but what does it have to do with the internet?

The Right Things In The Wrong Places

This restaurant had the right idea. They knew the power of email marketing, but they were asking for emails in the wrong places.

Online, it’s no different. There are good places to add email sign-up forms, and bad places. The better places obviously get you better results.

(This is easy to do in Thesis by the way. If you don’t own it, check it out here).

But let’s take a step back a minute. There are something much bigger going on here, and now I’ll tell you all about it.

If You Don’t Understand How Your Business Works, You’re Doomed

I know that sounds dramatic…

…but seriously. There are too many people who run businesses, or work for businesses, and they don’t understand how the business works. It’s a recipe for disaster.

What happened here?

Someone thought it was a great idea to collect email addresses from customers.

(It is a great idea, by the way!)

So they implement email collection on receipts, without realizing on how their own receipt system works.

Fail.

Why You Should “Walk Through” Your Business

One of my business idols, Sam Walton, was known for walking around his own Walmart stores to see how business went down. He’d also walk around competing stores to see how they did business, too.

Now think about it…

If you’re looking for ideas, what better way to discover them other than walking around your own business? Stop producing content for a day, and just spend time browsing your website, buying your own products, and see how your business goes down.

What should you look for?

Are there any processes that take too long? Can a 5-step process change into a 3-step process? Are you asking your customers for referrals in the right places? Do you include customer acquisition forms where the customers actually look?

Not only will you find improvement opportunities, you’ll also find small little errors in judgment, like an email collection on the wrong receipt 🙂

Now I pass it to you… How often do you walk through your own business?

Photo Courtesy of Ludovico Sinz

About the author: Derek Halpern ran marketing at DIYthemes, and is the founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on how to be confident, sign up to his list here.