Employees must wash their hands before returning to work

washing hand against white backgroundI always get a chuckle when I read this sign. Bottom line: how do we know whether employees follow the rule? After all, it does say “must”. One could use deductive reasoning and postulate that since there has been no massive salmonella epidemics in restaurants, everyone washes their hands. Hum, no. So what does this have to do with business in general or customer service in particular?

The buzz about everything “brand” is overwhelming and at times confusing. Please see my post on the topic.

Restaurants have an obligation to protect their patrons which brings up an interesting point: as a customer, I must assume that the owner is doing everything she can to not only provide me with a great dining experience but also assurance that the food was prepared and is being served in sanitary conditions.

The fact that no one got sick does not imply that employees are washing their hands. In fact, I am sure many don’t. So in reality, the business owner is playing a Russian roulette with her customers and the future of her business. The same risk applies to any business when it comes to customer satisfaction and experience.

You must be thinking that enforcing the washing hands rule is unreasonable or impossible: you can’t put cameras in the restroom so how would you verify compliance?

The answer lies in understanding what your brand is all about at a deep level: one of the critical aspects of branding is keeping the promise you made to deliver on what your marketing claims about your value and service. In this case, the implied promise (guarantee) that if you frequent my restaurant you can do so knowing that your best health interests are protected -not just because the Department of Health can inspect your facility but because you have a genuine commitment to your brand - what it truly represents before the first customer walks through the door. What does your business mean to you?

How far are you willing to go in order to live up to your promise?  Successful brands deliver on a promise. They typically go above and beyond and we experience it with every touch-point we have with that company: it is about unwavering obligation and the courage to do whatever it takes including,  yes, spending money to achieve that goal.

So how does a restaurant owner ensure that employees wash their hands? Although it may seem impossible it isn't. If you are driven by your commitment to fulfill that promise, you’ll find a way. For example, you don't have to stand outside the bathroom door and sniff your your employees' hands. But, you can implement a procedure whereby every employee must use antibacterial lotion upon leaving the bathroom. It is a simple procedure that can easily be managed by using technology and proper training of management staff. What must go along with this procedure is a zero-tolerance policy for failure to comply. Harsh? Not really if you remember what is at stake and the promise you made to customers - an experience that does not end when they leave the restaurant, or checkout of your shopping cart or...or….

Imagine the reaction if your sign reads: "we verify that employees wash their hands before returning to work". How's that for keeping a promise?