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Rest Stops


Posted on Thursday, September 6, 2018 in Small Business Today Articles

It seems like we have been doing a lot of traveling by car lately.  With all that traveling we tend to make our share maybe more, of pit stops.  I learned long ago when I was driving back and forth across the state between home in Dubuque and college in Sioux City with five female classmates, if one person had to make a pit stop, then everyone in the car should also make a pit stop.  It is just a much more efficient way to travel.  But that is a story for another time.  As a warning to those of you who do not like, or get embarrassed by bathroom talk, please stop reading here and come back for my next installment.  For the rest of you, here we go.

In the last six months we have stopped at state owned rest stops, fast food restaurants, the “World’s Largest Truck Stop” and outdated, one fixture gas station rest rooms.  You can tell a lot about a business from the way they keep their rest room.  The worst one we encountered was a gas station just outside of Chicago.  We had to ask for a key from the person behind the counter.  Of course the key was attached to huge piece of wood so nobody would run off with that valuable commodity.  It was a one fixture facility that you had to enter from a side door.

There was graffiti on the walls and an empty tequila bottle on the floor.  At that point I felt sorry for my wife who had already been in there and thanked God I was a man, if you know what I mean.  In my opinion, the best stops are those that have a more open design.  Views are obviously blocked off to ensure some privacy, but you do not have to open a door, and they have automatic flushers, automatic soap dispensers and faucets.  But the rest rooms that fascinate me the most are the ones that have advertising at eye height above the urinals. 

To me it doesn’t matter what they are advertising.  I have seen ads promoting events coming to a restaurant, ads for equipment specifically designed for the trucking industry and help wanted ads.  For some reason, it makes a routine event non-routine.  I am finding myself becoming disappointed when there is just a blank wall.  Ads with pictures of what you want me to buy on the way out to my car, and I’ll stand there longer, looking to see if there is indeed something I can’t live without.  At the most recent stop, I told my wife Joanne that I was planning to write about this potentially taboo subject, and wanted to know if the same types of ads were in the ladies room, specifically on the back side of a stall door.

She told me that indeed there were signs and ads.  As small business owners and managers, part of our responsibility is to market our companies.  Where is an unusual space where can we directly market to a captive audience?  I thought about that for the bank.  Would a CD special or home equity promotion work in the bank’s rest rooms?  Maybe, but probably not.  My challenge for you today is to think about unusual places to get your company message across to likely buyers.  There are places out there, we just need to get out of our conventional thinking.

I am not sure when our next trip will be, and in a strange way, I am looking forward to a new rest stop and seeing what is advertised in the next men’s room I walk into. 

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