Everyone I know keeps telling me I need to say NO more... but I say YES more.

If you're like me, you approach business and life a little differently than others. 

For me, it's probably because I started out "slinging fish," which is what we called working at the Fish n' Chips shop when I was a teenager. Many people who started in the service industry understand work ethic and are used to taking a lot of crap.

Maybe it's my time pressure-selling electronics at commission-only shops for years before moving into technical support and eventually becoming an IT contractor for marketing organizations.

Your path was different but probably equally random.

But I can tell you this...

We've all had a pretty wide experience with customer service. 

A few years ago I had so many back-to-back terrible customer service experiences that I started writing a book about it.

It's called.

Start Saying Yes

Improving Customer Experience and Personal Opportunity Through Positive Messaging

and Chapter 1 is titled....

"Servers in Oregon Always Say No"

A phrase coined by Scott Burson, the other owner of Hook SEO.  

Here's a small excerpt...

“Have you ever noticed that servers will tell you ‘No’ for anything in Oregon?” Scott continued, “That doesn’t normally happen in most other places. But go to any bar or restaurant in Oregon and you will hear them tell people ‘No’ over and over.”

 I thought about this briefly and realized I had heard the word, “No” a lot lately. But maybe it was just because Scott brought it up, I am now remembering all the No’s I’ve heard recently.

It’s like when someone tells you to look at how small Ceelo Green’s hands are.  And now you can’t see anything but his tiny hands every time you see him.

But wait.

That doesn't make any sense!

Everyone in sales who has read a single sentence of a sales book or listened to a sales training has heard that repeating YES over and over is how you improve sales and customer satisfaction. 

And it's not just servers, who get a bad rap sometimes, but it's almost everyone. 

I went to a coffee shop on the Oregon Coast where everyone brought their dogs to grab a cup of Joe. The sign on the door of the shop next to it said, "NO Outside Food or Drinks & NO Pets"

The coffee shop was full, the store was empty.

My wife and I went to buy a BBQ later the same week at Lowes and the sales rep said not to buy one.  "No, you don't want one yet, they will probably be on sale in a few weeks. Or you can get a better deal at Walmart" she said. 


So why is everyone saying NO?


How Saying NO is Killing Your Business

1. Anything outside of the norm is a battle.

In the book, The $6000 Egg, a man asked for a $2 egg on a burger. They said no, repeatedly. The more he tried to explain how simple it was, the more they fought him. Eventually, his book became a New York Times Bestseller.  He never went to that restaurant again, a place he spent $6000/year taking clients.

Clients aren't the enemy. If your staff think this is the case, get new staff.

2. No clear goals or purpose.

There is a reason you do what you do. There is a goal for the company (or at least there should be!) and everyone needs to be on board with your mission. If your organization doesn't have a clear mission, a purpose for being, and a goal for your customers, then you need to go back to the whiteboard and figure out what that is. 

Even if you are a solo-preneur or self-employed you have to have a mission. When people (including you!) understand the mission and the goal and the purpose of what they do, they are more fulfilled in their work, they work harder, and they are more positive.

3. Empowerment and Ownership

Let me tell you the words you hate to hear more than almost anything.

"I'll have to transfer you."


Your employees (and you!) need to own people's problems and have the power to create solutions.

Don't transfer me, don't ask me for the same information over and over, don't pass the blame to someone else.


Do you know what the favorite thing is someone wants to hear instead of "I'll transfer you" is? 


Be the last person someone needs to talk to.


Why YES Will Change Your Business

Saying “Yes” makes you more money.  
Saying “Yes” gets people excited about purchasing the things they want. 
Saying “Yes” invites them back to your brand for more.
Saying "Yes" turns happy customers into brand ambassadors - they tell everyone they know.

Now at least one of you is saying to yourself, "But wait one minute here, Matt. What happened to saying NO to bad customers or over-committing ourselves?"

This is not what I'm talking about. 

I'm saying that your business needs to be saying YES to your customers. Yes to the right customers.

"Yes, I can help you, and if I can't, I know someone who can."

"Yes, I will take care of this problem.  Don't wait on hold, or anything, I'm just going to get it done and get back to you when it's finished so that you know it's taken care of."

"Yes, you can bring your coffee into my shop."

"Yes, you can have a few french fries for your toddler while we make the rest of your meals."

"Yes, I will take the time to make sure it's done right."

A Final Note

I went to the new South Hillsboro Family Dentist.

They asked me when a good time was for me to come in for some dental work and it would take two visits.

I said the best day for me is Tuesdays.

They asked if I could do the afternoon, and I said. yes. 

After not one, but two weeks in a row on Tuesday of coming in, I found out that they aren't normally open at that time because they are new and didn't have enough clients to fill all their appointments yet, so they were open Wednesday - Saturday.

If you're doing the math, you are right...  

They opened their business just to accept me as a patient on Tuesday afternoon. They used those now-open-times to book a few more patients since they would be in the office to work on my teeth anyway.

That's service.

They are positive, they did a great job, and they went out of their way to accommodate my schedule and didn't ask me to pay extra or make a big deal out of it. They also did a great job on my teeth! 

They owned the problem and made a solution and made it seamless to me as a customer and didn't make a big deal out of it.

Is your business willing to accommodate your customers that way?

Having a service mindset will always be a win for your business.


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