A better way to get my email address

For some time, businesses have been trying to figure out ways to get customers’ email addresses to try and build a better relationship with them. A common technique I have seen is “Please fill out the survey using the code on the receipt and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win something fabulous.” Then when you go to the website, you have to register with your email address. I guess some people do that, but I don’t think I ever have.


I was using the self-checkout (which I love) at Home Depot a couple of weeks ago and the terminal asked me “Would you like a copy of your receipt emailed to you?” I hate keeping up with paper so I pushed the Yes button. Obviously – I had to enter my email address.

I was back at the Home Depot today and when I swiped my credit card – it then asked me “Do you want a copy of your receipt sent to jtrotman@circlebox.com?” Obviously they have stored my credit card # to match it to the email address entered. Security concerns aside (that’s another can of worms), that was pretty convenient.

I was more agreeable to giving them my email address when there was a tangible benefit to me – not just because they wanted it.

Don’t force me to interact with you

Call it a pet peeve of mine. We’re out to dinner, we’ve just gotten our food, and we’re starting to eat. A manager comes by and says something like: “How is everyone doing? Do you need anything? How does everything taste?”

They mean well, but they are interrupting. Not only that, but they are asking questions that require an answer. Where I come from, it would be rude not to answer.

A better way to accomplish the same thing would be to say – “Thank you for coming out tonight. If there’s anything you need, please let me know.” Bonus points for moving on instead of waiting for a response (unless I indicate I’m about to ask for something).

When I was in college, I waited tables and trained many new waiters. I was surprised to learn that the most common mistake new waiters made was to check in with tables too often. The trick is to be available without interrupting. Don’t try to make yourself the center of attention.

This applies in all kinds of businesses, not just restaurants. If you work in retail, saying “I’ll be right over here if you need anything” is much better than “Can I help you?” A pop-up on a web page is definitely a bad idea. Like the waiter who stands to the side to be available without interrupting, design your website so that the offer is always there, but not in the way.

Rule #1 for working the drive-thru

Don’t hand me a drink without handing me a straw.

I’ve got three sons ranging from 10 to 14 and I spend a lot of my time chauffeuring them around which means I’m frequently at a drive-thru window. Inevitably, it seems I’m asked to pull forward and they’ll bring our food out to us because the chicken nuggets are cooking.


As they are telling me this, they hand me all of our drinks – which I have to receive and pass back.  While I’m turned away passing drinks back – the person at the window disappears.

While I’m waiting, it sure would be nice to be able to take a sip from the drinks. I know I can take the lid off, but it would be so easy to hand me the straws at the same time you’re giving me the drinks.