Do Your Employees Stink?

Every business that meets face to face with it’s customers needs to concern itself with how its employees smell. The matter of basic hygiene where you probably expect your employees adhere to normal standards. At issue is each persons definition of normal hygiene standards.

Employee smell may be more involved than having taken a bath and using deodorant. Many people, and this is a more common trait in women, are especially sensitive to smells. For these people, a scent or fragrance that goes unnoticed by most of us, is noticed by these people.

Small business can not afford to lose customers because of an offensive smelling employee. If a new customer visits your business, and is turned off by the way the employee smells, you have lost a sale and a repeat customer. Customers are the most valuable asset a company has.

Depending on where your business is located, employee hygiene changes. However, it is not unreasonable to put in place general guidelines for your employees. Requesting how employees smell while at work is not unreasonable. With a little creativity, smell or lack of  could become part of your companies culture.

Customers prefer to smell food and not your employee!

Common smells that will turn off some first time and repeat customers are:

Body odor. Acceptable body odor varies from area to area, and country to country. No matter what the standard is, some people manage to go beyond what is acceptable.

Bad breath. Bad breath is a turn off for most people. If an employee is in a customer’s personal space and they haven’t brushed their teeth in a few days, or have eaten strong food such as garlic, the customer is not going to appreciate it.

Smoking, whether using tobacco products or electronic cigarettes leaves an odor on employees many customers can do without. You probably can not deem that your employees do not smoke or use electronic cigarettes, but you should be able to prohibit use of these products in and around the workplace. This is not an assault on people using tobacco products or electronic cigarettes, but creates an awareness for employees who work in close contact with their customer.

Laundry detergent, fabric softener and scented dryer sheets. Some of the individual scents each brings to our clothes may be okay. Mixed together these strong scents are sometimes too much.

Personal body soap, bar soap and shampoo are often contribute to how we smell to others. This is especially true for some shampoos targeted at women, though men are now being targeted too. Shampoo that has a strong exotic flower scent, or a trademark scent is great for a night out on the town, but may be a turnoff in the work environment.

Perfume and cologne can be a real problem too. An employee using either product, especially if they are younger or older, may not have a sense of the correct amount to use. Add a little warm air, and a strong scent becomes overpowering.

No one wants to see their food being prepared by someone whose hands look like they were cleaning engine parts earlier, gloves or not. No one wants to helped by someone whose personal smell makes them want to vomit.

Personal hygiene and cleanliness contribute to the success or failure of a customer oriented business. Your lost customer won’t bother telling you they won’t return because one your employees who assisted them stinks literally – to the customer.

There is no one size fits all standard for employee cleanliness. Each business is different and its needs are varied. However, business owners, managers and employees need to be aware of the effect their cleanliness habits or lack thereof have on the repeat customer base.

As uncomfortable as it may be, these situations are manageable during the interview process. Put your expectations out there for prospective employees to hear. Let them know before being hired what your employee hygiene expectations are. This way no one is surprised in a future moment.

Customer Value Verses Customer Money

This is a comparison of two businesses. They both are in the food service industry. The areas they are located in are about the same, but they manage their business completely different.

One of these, a Mom and Pop business, has an inviting entrance and a pleasant atmosphere which invites repeat business. The second, a popular chain, has an entrance that looks like it is one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. Once inside, the walls are adorned with the usual fare, plus more negative signage.

The negative signage tells the customers in a very negative way how long they can stay, and if they can use the facilities or not. Between the entrance and the barrage of signage inside my expectations were low. The place was neat and clean. I was also surprised at how good customer service was. Though there was a big downside of the staff being focused on the wrong things.

Customer satisfaction is second to money at this business.

Customer satisfaction is second to money at this business.

The staff were sales people and not wait staff. Every comment from the person helping me was to sell me more than I asked for. Did I want to add on to what I ordered for so much more? Did I want more choices than the items I picked? Did I want to double the size of my order for less than the stated price? Worst of all, there was a tip jar at the register. I was told as I paid my bill there was a tip jar – as if I could not see it – and all tips were appreciated.

 

 

The second location was the complete opposite of this. The service was prompt and totally customer focused. I was asked if I preferred a smaller portion than the portion listed on the menu for less money? The person who was waiting on us came to the table no less than eight times checking to see if there was anything that they could do. Top off the drinks, bring more napkins, refill the water glasses, more ice in the drink, more cream for the coffee, and other real reasons to show up at the table. The check was brought at the end of the meal and not during the meal. We were asked if we wanted to-go drinks to take with us (lemonade and coffee).

Repeat customers is the goal of this business

Repeat customers is the goal of this business

Both of these restaurants are in the same price range. Yet one totally out sells the other without so much as a hint of a sales pitch. One enjoys a growing list of repeat customers, while the other is trying its best to fleece every customer who walks through the door.

Put another way, one business will thrive in any economy. One business may be near to closing even though it sells a more popular product. Which business would you wish to spend your hard earned money at, and which business would you likely never visit again? If you are a business owner, which business more closely resembles you own business?

Running a business where customers walk in off the street is difficult. Competition is tough, and profit margins are generally small. However a businesses that focuses on making the customer and not the customer’s money the number one priority stays in business longer and is more successful than a business who thinks their product is far superior that customer focus takes a distant second customer’s money.

When anyone asks my opinion on a good place to eat, a fun place to visit or a good place to see, places where I felt special come to mind quickly and they are what I recommend. When you are asked your opinion on where to go or where to eat, where do you recommend?