During a recent seminar in Missoula, Montana, I had a breakout session where I grouped up the attendees in groups of seven or eight people and went through several case studies and, as a group, answered questions in those sales-call situations.
In one case study (sales call), part of the description of a client’s business showed that they had a dirty restroom, among other things, inside the business. It prompted a question from one of the sales reps in attendance and it was a thought-provoking one. I went around the room and took the pulse of all the attendees. The question was, “Is it okay to use the restroom at a client’s place of business?”
The answer from the reps in that seminar was about 50 percent “yes” and 50 percent “no.” I already had my answer and was prepared to back it up.
There are a couple things going on with this question. Is it okay to use the restroom? If you have to go, you have to go. Is it the first impression I would want to give a prospect arriving for the first time at their place of business? No. I would hope you could have pulled over and used a restroom somewhere besides at the prospect’s business as soon as you came through the door. If it’s a client you have a relationship with, then of course you can ask them and it would be okay. Again, it’s not something I would make a habit of doing at the client’s business.
I think the real question should be: When walking a business during what we call a Physical In-Store Survey, should you check out the restroom? I say emphatically yes. Look, this also depends on the type of business you are scouting out for your walk-through observation fact-finding call. You are there trying to determine if there is a “fit” between their business and your media company. What does this have to do with a bathroom? Quite a bit, actually. Many people who shop at a retailer ask to use the bathroom. If that bathroom is dirty, could it sour the shoppers’ experience at that business? Yes it could. On the other hand, if it’s spotless, it says a lot about the way that company operates their business. I think you should always check out the bathroom on your initial walk-through.
What happens if it’s dirty?. Should you tell the general manager what you have noticed? Yes. On one of my physical in-store surveys, I went to the restroom at a car dealership, only to find it had that very unique smell of dirty mop water. I asked to see the general manager and was granted a few minutes -- this was on an initial call -- though not a customer-needs analysis call.
I told the general manager what I smelled and we went together to the restroom to check it out. It was indeed the janitor from the night before that had used the mop with dirty water. The general manager thanked me for telling him straight up and granted me an appointment for a CMP call the following day. If their restroom is spotless, I think you should also tell the decision-maker of the things you noticed in person, and you should compliment them on the cleanliness of their restroom.
The restrooms at businesses tell a lot about their attention to detail. If the bathrooms are clean and kept up periodically throughout the day, there is a good chance that is an organized business that cares about their customer. On the other hand, if it’s not clean, maybe you need to think twice about whether you would work with that company; because at the end of the day you are sending in your listeners, readers, or viewers to them, and a dirty bathroom could spell disaster for their shopping experience.
Sean Luce is the Head National Instructor for the Luce Performance Group International and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.luceperformancegroup.com. Sean’s new book The Liquid Fire can be found on Amazon.com.