Be Kind, Please Rewind

Blockbuster may be gone, but their lesson lives on


(originally published for the Business Owner Tide Chart newsletter - February 2020)



Raise your hand if you remember the days when Friday night meant ordering a pizza and visiting the local video store to pick out a tape to watch.  You would stroll the aisle, pick up video covers, read the back, check out the movie stars who graced the cover.  And when the weekend was over, pizza polished off and movie watched, you dutifully brought your tape back to the video store.  And if you were a really good customer, you were kind enough to rewind the tape before dropping it off.  If you did, I thank you.  Or my high school self does, back when I worked at Blockbuster video.

I worked at Blockbuster at a time when VHS tapes were still in high demand.  DVDs were a new concept and only really popular movies were available in that format.  Our inventory was primarily VHS.  And everyone of those tapes had a big sticker on them that read Be Kind, Please Rewind.  It was a catchy tag line. 


It was Blockbuster’s way of asking the customer to help in the process.  If you didn’t rewind your tape, I was stuck doing it.  We had a row of rewind machines and a stack of tapes everyday that we had to rewind before they could go back on the shelf.  It created extra work for us.  And it was a task that was simple to ask the customer to assist with. 

Gone are the days of VHS tapes, even movie rental stores are long gone.  Everything we need is available on demand. 

But the idea of asking your customers to perform an action to make your job more efficient will always exist.

At the gym we’re asked to not wear our outdoor shoes in the studio.  It means the floors don’t need to be cleaned as often.  At the coffee shop you can bring in your own mug. Yes, it’s the green choice, but it also means less restocking of paper cups.  Is there a way your customers can support the work you do, make things more efficient?  And if so, how do you make the ask fun, catchy, or beneficial?  The coffee shop may give you a discount.  Blockbuster had their easy to remember phrase.  And in the end, my favorite customers were always the ones who were kind and remembered to rewind.

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