Smoking Kills (Curb Appeal)


I had just finished meeting with a client in Illinois when I headed to one of my favorite spots for lunch.

It has everything: 

  • Great ambience? CHECK.
  • Great food? CHECK.
  • Planter by the front door filled with cigarette butts, empty packs and trash? CHECK.

It’s a shame … because all the great advertising in the world won’t overcome me sharing that photo on facebook.

My friend Darren replied, “If their planter looks like this, it’s a good indication of what their kitchen looks like!”


My business partner Mike Dandridge – an expert on how businesses improve customer experiences – taught me the term for this:


Consumers connect dots – even when no natural line exists. We invent them. Mike shared this quote from Donald Burr, former CEO of People Express Airlines:

“In the airline industry, if passengers see coffee stains on the food tray, they assume the engine maintenance isn’t done right.” – May 5, 2002

It’s true. Darren knew it. You know it. I know it.

But the good news is: It’s so easy and inexpensive to fix. Just make sure you add it to the server or busser’s list of side work.

Just please make sure he or she washes his hands before returning to work, okay?

Oh, and P.S. – I know a ton of advertising reps read this blog. If this were your client, would you tell them? Would you have the courage to speak up and tell them it was hurting the effectiveness of their advertising campaign? Help them connect the dots.

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As CEO and Head Custodian of Miles & Company, Tim Miles helps owner-operated companies do more with less. He's the author of Good Company: Making It, Keeping It & Being It.

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