The sign of the Market Farm Eatery along the Coral Gables, Florida, street said, “Hungry? Stop Here!” I was their kind of customer: hungry. I had missed lunch and it was late in the evening so I pulled along a side street and jumped out of my rental car. I crossed the parking lot to an open door on the side of the little Market Farm Eatery.

As I approached, two Spanish-only speaking women came to the side door. The younger one smiled and welcomed me and the other one – an elderly woman- acted like she wanted to hit me with a frying pan. They had something they were trying to tell me, but I wasn’t getting it.  What little Spanish I speak is pretty rusty so as I was trying to decipher the confusion; we finally resorted to picking up sticks and drawing in the dirt.

It turns out that it was a “drive-thru only” eatery and I needed to get back in my rental car and drive up to order. To my defense, it did not look like a normal small drive-thru with a small window with a bored teenager who asks if you want fries with that; it looked like a little convenience store that you walked into.

The older woman decided that I wasn’t worth the effort of going after a frying pan to hit me and she huffed back inside, but the younger lady took me around the side of the building and pointed where to drive my car. Only then, out by the main street, did I see a little sign that said, “Drive-thru only.”

Messaging is so critical to any public-facing company.  I walked around the attractive looking place and still only found one ten-inch-tall by three-feet-long sign by the main road saying it was a drive-thru. It would have been nice to know that the attendants only spoke Spanish.

By the time I got in my car to pull around, three other cars had pulled in. They already knew the secret.

The store lost my business not because of a testy lady with a frying pan; my Mom frequently threatened me with one so I’m used to that.

However, they lost my business because of poor messaging.