Don’t Flush Money Down Your Toilet

Hey guys!  Normally I include a photo of my “real world” stories. Today I’m going to spare you!  Why? It’s about the awful bathroom visit I had this morning.  I stopped at a convenience store.  Normally convenience stores have decent cleanliness.  Not this one… I actually walked in the bathroom, turned around and walked out of the store.  The bathroom should have been ok.  It looked “new” or at least “newly remodeled” but unfortunately, it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for a while.  It definitely needed attention.  If a store is busy, it’s easy to overlook scraps of toilet paper on the floor, full garbage cans, or even empty soap dispensers.  But the yuck that was in, on, and around BOTH toilets was unbearable.  Again, I left.  I didn’t buy the soda I was planning.  I guarantee my $1.75 soda purchase would not make or break their day, but, bathrooms are a big deal.  They are a representation of your business in a few ways.

First, the bathroom represents your business cleanliness.  Think about it… imagine visiting your local Urgent Care facility.  These bathrooms are typically beautiful, sanitary, and spotless.  What would you think of the cleanliness of examination room if the bathroom was disgusting?  Same holds true for my convenience store visit.  I was so grossed out by the bathroom that I didn’t want to purchase soda in a sealed bottle.  It’s not a stretch of the imagination to ask, “If the bathroom looks like yuck, what is inside the bakery case full of donuts?”  See my point!  The cleanliness of bathroom does translate.  The cleanliness of your bathroom does set the impression for your customers’ overall impression.

Next, the bathroom is often the first or last impression of your business.  Rarely do you get to a store, and mid-visit make a trip to the bathroom.  Therefore, how do you want to set the stage for your customer’s arrival or departure?  This is a no-brainer.  I equate it to having the answers to a test or having “free” good points on the customer visit. You control your bathroom cleanliness. Make sure you pass with an A+!

Finally, I just mentioned that you control your bathroom cleanliness, in addition to the impression you create, you also prevent negative feedback.  Seriously, don’t you have enough stuff that a customer can complain about, if for no other reason, keep your bathroom clean so someone doesn’t come and gripe about it or worse leave negative feedback or even worse write a blog post about it… haha.

Again, bathrooms are an important destination of your business. They give a subtle clue as to how you do business. It’s one of those areas that people may not comment, “hey you have bathrooms that are clean” but you better believe that if it’s an area of filth and disgust, you will hear about it.  Your customer visit experience is important, make sure to earn all the positive points you can!  Don’t let the condition of your bathroom cost you a sale…

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Your Customer’s View

As you assess your customer experience consider all the areas they encounter. It’s often good to take a walk, possibly a drive, and explore how they see it.
I did this an noticed that the prettier “first experience” with our business was route A vs. route B. The fist thing about route A is the ease of the drive. However, even more interesting is the view of the business. One approaches from the bottom of the hill, the other from the top. When you arrive from the top it’s simply prettier. It seems like an odd consideration, but much of your customer’s opinion can take place prior to arriving in your busines.
Another area not to neglect is the bathroom. It’s astounding the impact cleanliness has on overall experience. I love the idea in the photo. The lightswitch approach to letting the staff know when a bathroom needs attention has been around a while. 
I like the light switch approach because it’s non confrontenational. Ultimately you just want to know the bathroom needs help and if someone is willing to “flip a switch” you get y our goal accomplished. But the other reason the lightswitch approach is cool is your employees know that it’s there. Do they really want to get an alarm or light announcing the bathroom is in sad shape. Most likely they will avoid that and check the bathrooms regularly.
Now go around your business and see if there are oddities around that your customers immediately see that you’ve been overlooking.