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The Basics Part 1:  How Clean is Your Business?

Although loyalty may not be driven by satisfaction, it cannot exist without it.

That means that you have to cover the basics first everyday.  When you look at the hierarchy of excellence, it is much like a pyramid.  You really can’t get to the pinnacle before you have built a solid foundation.  There has to be a baseline of trust and execution that begins to create a bond between you and your Guests.

So for the next 10 weeks we are going to focus back on the basics before we start to talk about strategies to build amazing loyalty.

This week, we are starting with a key part of the Guest experience – cleanliness.

We have all had something like this happen to us:

Frank and Sarah are heading out for dinner.  It is a Saturday night like any other and they are looking forward to a nice night out with great food and a little wine.  But as they arrive at the restaurant, they notice that the parking lot has quite a bit of litter blowing about.  As they walk into the restaurant, they notice the smudged glass on the door and the well worn carpet in the entry way.  The dining room has several tables that are still in need of bussing and the open kitchen – which is usually immaculate – looks to be buried in orders and stacked with pots and pans.  Finally, as they sit down, they notice that Sarah’s napkin has a stain on it and Frank’s glass is covered in fingerprints.

Frank and Sarah ended up leaving and having drive through on the way home.

They haven’t been back to this restaurant since then.

This is a story that we have all encountered – maybe not to this degree, but haven’t we all had a moment of pause in a restaurant or dry cleaners or dentist’s office when we saw something that didn’t necessarily feel very clean?

Sanitation and cleanliness are the most basic Guest needs.  This is something that is considered an entry level part of service – meaning that it is something that is expected and may not win you Guests, but can certainly lose them.

Cleanliness builds trust and also ensures that your Guests feel like you have your business well in hand.  They can’t trust you to cook their food, do their taxes, or tailor their suits until you can prove that you can keep your business clean.  And in some cases, like in restaurants, healthcare, and grocery stores, it is absolutely critical to keeping your Guests coming back.

So what can you do?

The good news about cleanliness is that a few basic moves can help you keep your business clean and showing very well to your Guests.

  1. Look at things from the Guest point-of-view.  Your work areas and locations are more visible than you might think.  Keep a close eye on the lines of site back into your areas that are normally out of site.  What happens when a door to the back is opened? What does your cashier area look like?  When you walk in from the outside as a Guest, what do you see about your building, windows, parking lot, and dumpster area?

  2. Make a list.  Lists are great for rote daily activities such as cleaning.  If you want to validate items are getting done and hold your team accountable, there is nothing better than a checklist that forces folks to initial their work.  Take the time to assign the tasks that need to be done and make sure that you really take a hard look at your location to ensure that even the tiniest things are accounted for.

  3. Get everyone involved.  You can’t keep a business clean alone.  You will need to involve everyone not just in the cleaning, but in the creation of the checklist and keeping an eye out for what needs attention.  The tiniest details can speak to your Guests about what matters to you, so make sure you are showing your commitment to quality and cleanliness everyday.  Cobwebs, dust, unorganized product shelves – these can all send up red flags to your Guests, so make sure that your team is on alert to dial in even the smallest details.

Keep cleanliness and sanitation top of mind each day.

This is a core piece of great service, as you truly cannot look to surprise and delight your Guests with amazing wows until you have taken the time to buckle up your daily execution.

So keep your business spotless and treat every Guest like a cherished friend.


Tony Johnson -Guest Experience Leader-

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