BrainTrust Query: Great Sandwich. Lousy Washrooms.
Compliantia recently conducted a
survey asking people what they would do if a restaurant’s washroom lacked
soap, was generally unsanitary or had a strong smell. Eighty-nine percent of
respondents indicated they would take their business elsewhere.
That is a lot
of customers to lose but, lost sales aside, it also suggests a huge credibility
problem for the brand. How does a QSR reconcile the family-friendly message
of their advertising campaign with the bacterial experiment taking place in
your washrooms? Dirty washrooms let customers down; they let the brand down.
They imply the business doesn’t walk the talk. They imply the restaurant doesn’t
care. Dirty washrooms hurt credibility and the brand.
Why are washrooms such an issue with
customers? What the industry calls "Health
and Safety," customers call "Hygiene." Hygiene is tightly coupled
with food preparation and the facilities bear witness to the safety of the food
preparation and the food itself. A recurring theme in the survey was that if
the washroom was dirty then so was the kitchen. Customers can’t see the
kitchen. They can see the washroom and can imagine the staff using it … right
before they prepare their meal.
What can a restaurant do about it?
First, set the expectation with training.
Yearly turnover can be 100 percent or more in the quick service restaurant
business which means training needs to be done relentlessly and repeatedly.
daily processes involving the store owner/franchisee, managers and assistant
managers should be set up to ensure washrooms are cleaned repeatedly and thoroughly.
Standards should be posted and detailed.
Last, district and regional managers
should have the means to communicate and rate a store’s performance in
all key areas, including washrooms. A store scorecard should be completed by
the district manager monthly or quarterly and the washroom set up as a "critical" item
which will critically affect and lower the score unless standards are met.
Measurement, in and of itself, actually breeds compliance. Measure relentlessly,
score aggressively and your washrooms "performance" will improve.
Discussion Questions: Why does maintaining clean restrooms appear to be such a hurdle for so many QSRs? Are there other operational “blindspots” that you believe need attention at retail?