Yeah, that’s how the email came from our local mechanic to let us know their business had moved. “Please be advised that we’ve moved addresses and our name changed.”

A few things to note:

  • This happened weeks after their previous highly visible location was emptied and the sign was taken down. (we thought they had gone out of business).
  • The email came from their receptionist.
  • They store our winter tires for us every year (so we thought that we’d also be out a few hundred dollars when it came time to replace them next winter.)

Here’s what I imagined happened:

  1. A customer drove past their new location and found them or called their phone number after realizing their old location was empty.
  2. Staff meeting: Maybe we should say something to our customers instead of just waiting for them to call.
  3. Owner to receptionist: Just send out and email to let people know.
  4. “Please be advised” email (which tells me they had my email address on file already).

I don’t mean to harp on receptionists – they’re often great with creating a process to keep people informed and can do a great job representing the ‘brand’ or ‘personality’ of a company when that’s been clearly articulated.

Here are my 3 takeaways that can apply to nearly any announcement about a change in your business:

Communicate early

Communicate before your business building is vacant. Let people know you’re planning a move, even if for some reason it’s last minute. Our mechanic probably knew they were relocating before their building got emptied and their sign was taken down, and second-best case; they could have communcated the day they moved into their new location.

I’m sure they would say they had been busy with the move, but if you move and don’t bring your customers along with you, then you’ve just moved your business into storage.

Email open rates are about 20-30% – meaning that if you have 100 people on your email list, about 20-30 people will open and read any given email, so you’ll need to send that email multiple times to get everyone on your list to read it even once. You’ll need to plan ahead to give yourself time to communicate with your customers multiple times, so start early.

Communicate anticipation

  • We’re moving because…
  • We’re excited to announce X because Y
  • We’ve added a new service to serve you better
  • Our hours are changing so we can….

“Please be advised” is such a neutral approach – we’re not excited, we’re not happy, we’re not please, we’re not making a change to serve you better, but we just want you to know – do with it what you’d like.

… and you probably already know that there’s no neutral gear in marketing. Everything either pushes your brand forward (strengthening your brand) or hurts your brand, so if you’re not pushing your brand forward then a so called “neutral” statement like “please be advised” might get you “featured” on my blog as a cautionary tale.

Communicate clearly and with consistency

If I’ve taken the time to open your email, I’ve given you my attention (at least temporarily) so be clear on what you want to communicate and re-inforce your brand in the process.

I won’t bore you with the details of the full email, but there’s nothing there that emphasizes the brand – What does it feel like to walk into that mechanic’s office? How do I feel when I call? When something goes wrong, how do I feel like I’m being treated? What will I tell my friends about my experience working with that mechanic?

When we started going to this mechanic, we felt like we were being treated like royalty. They would answer the phone greeting us by name if they recognized our number. If we needed an oil change, they would pick up our car from home and return it when the oil change was completed. There were paper mats on the floor of the vehicle so the carpet didn’t get dirty, a new air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror, and a mint left on the steering wheel. When our son was born, we got flowers from our mechanic congratulating us.

None of that came through in a “please be advised” email. Why not?

Was someone in a rush? Was someone told to create an email and didn’t consider the importance of using culture as a filter for communication? Was the person who determined what to include in a customer email not actually clear on what the brand actually means to the customer?

Whatever the reasoning, the end result was the same: Lack of consistency in aligning an email with the rest of the brand.

Consistency Builds Trust

There’s never “just an email” or “Just a phone call” or “just greeting a customer.” Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to show consistency and build trust.

When our mechanic went the extra step of leaving a mint on the steering wheel (always the same type of mint in a package with their logo on it), we trusted that whatever they had done with our engine was also done with that level of detail. The consistency of attention to detail created trust for us.

There is no neutral gear in marketing. Every interaction either strengthens your brand or weakens it.