Leave a Great Impression with Customers: Cleanliness and Presentation
Do you leave a great impression with your customers? How much is a clean restroom worth? According to a study conducted by the Bradley Corporation, the answer is about 64 percent of your business. That’s the percentage of American consumers who indicated they would think twice about patronizing a business after discovering that its restrooms were unpleasant or unclean.
Dirt and Clutter Drive Negative Customer Perceptions
It’s not just bathrooms, however that affect how customer’s see your business. When Cintas Corporation asked consumers what factors negatively affected their perceptions of a business’s products, service, and management, dirty floors, dirty shopping carts, and poor staff appearance came in just behind poor customer service.
A related issue for businesses is the presence of clutter. Your customers already live in an environment of omnipresent distraction. A simple walk down the street in a major urban center like Chicago will present your customers with more messages and stimuli begging for attention than previous generations might have seen in a month. There’s a lot to be said for making your business a respite from that kind of onslaught, especially since it tends to worsen perceptions of cleanliness and friendliness. Worse, while the thought that visual clutter in public areas might equate with an unclean environment in your customers’ eyes is bad enough, its effect on employees might be an even more important concern. In 2011, OfficeMax conducted a survey that found 77 percent of respondents felt clutter decreased their productivity and 53 percent felt it drained their motivation. A workforce facing unnecessary impediments to their ability to deliver top-quality service is a workforce that is not going to retain customers or win new business.
Time for a Spring Cleaning
Fortunately, maintaining a clean facility and cutting clutter are both issues you can do something about. If you are concerned that dirt or disorganization are costing you sales and harming your reputation, it’s time to set a few new goals.
- Prioritize cleaning and set high expectations for employees responsible for maintaining those efforts over time. If the environment is excessively dirty to begin with, or if the proper methods for maintaining it are unclear, talk with a local facilities management professional. This does not necessarily mean outsourcing all your cleaning needs. While a facilities management firm is certainly going to offer those services, firms in larger markets may also provide consultation services to determine how to best meet your cleaning goals in-house.
- Pay special attention to entrances and restrooms. While no part of your business should remain unclean, improving these areas can have a tremendous impact on customers’ perceptions.
Entrances set the tone of a customer’s visit, so think carefully about what you want them to see as they walk through the door. As for restrooms, well, remember the Cintas survey mentioned earlier? Respondents rated unclean bathrooms as their top turn-off when patronizing a business, making them an issue that cannot be tolerated.
- Decide to keep the environment functional and minimize distractions. In a business environment, items that don’t maintain morale, build your brand, or help move transactions to completion simply don’t belong. Talk to a dumpster rental company like Next Day, about having a dumpster dropped-off on your property and start filling it up with the clutter. Your goal is to free-up some visual space for your workers and your customers. Not only will this remove unconscious barriers to your staff’s performance, but it will also give a boost to customers’ perceptions of your business’s cleanliness.
- Follow-up by establishing a culture of aesthetic pride within your organization. Often, in a healthy business setting, clutter accumulates and areas go without cleaning not because employees are lazy but because other pressing needs demand their time. You can head this problem off by clearly articulating how important appearances are for your company, putting adequate resources towards their upkeep, and closely monitoring results.
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