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Warning: Bathroom Etiquette Can Kill Your Word-of-Mouth Advertising

Warning: Bathroom Etiquette Can Kill Your Word-of-Mouth Advertising

Alert: This is a post from my Daddy blog series

This weekend was a typical weekend for the Mance family.  My boys waking me up at the crack dawn requesting cereal, an hour of Phineas and Ferb on Disney, finger painting at the arts center,  then a ride on the birthday party bus.  And just like the wheels on the bus, the list of parties to attend goes round and round predictably year after year.  What’s not so predictable is what’s going to happen at the establishment that host the 10 to 20 little boys and girls as they devour pizza and cake.

At the party my boys and I attended yesterday, what happened to me was more than what I bargained for.  My littlest one (and rowdiest one), had a terrible accident in the bathroom at the establishment that hosted the party.

My little guy is potty trained, but he still has accidents from time to time.  However, this time it was not his fault.  We were in Marietta, GA just north of Atlanta at an establishment that will remain nameless. The facility had all that was required for a great kid’s birthday party except one critical creature comfort. A bathroom to accommodate children.

Cheap pizza, check.  Arcade, check.  Go Karts, check. Miniature golf, check. Clean bathroom to accommodate little boys, fail.

The bathroom at this establishment was awful.  There was one stand-up urinal that was waist high on me, meaning that no kid under 12 had a chance for a clean shot.  The result was a filthy floor underneath and around it.  Also, there was only one private stall that didn’t have a chance either since by default it was the only choice for the “straight shooters” in the elementary school crowd.

So there I was in a facility with at least 50 little boys running around eating pizza and drinking sweet tea with one and half toilets to choose from.

Now back to my son’s terrible accident.  I saw my little guy doing the two-step in the arcade and I knew he had to go.  He did everything he could to convince me he didn’t have to, since he didn’t want to stop playing.  Fortunately, my daddy senses were on high alert since my wife was out of town.

We rushed to the bathroom and to my chagrin the only private stall was taken.  My only choice was to try the stand up urinal that was fit for a giant.  Needless to say, my son got pee pee everywhere, all over his clothes, the floor, and me as I tried to lift him up so he could hover and go.  On top of that, the bathroom had no paper towels and no soap.  My only saving grace was the change of clothes and pack of wipes I remembered to stash away in my son’s backpack.

(Start here if you don’t want to read my long winded intro)

This brings us to the point of my story. The facility had everything it needed to serve its customers except clean, accessible bathrooms.  It was a place that was able to get the complex stuff right. Everything from running a mini-restaurant to managing a go-kart race track, to keeping a masterful waterfall and stream beautifully running through and around a miniature golf course.  Yet for some reason the management overlooked the bathrooms.

A business that overlooks the little things is a sign that there may be behind the scenes problems with the big things.  When I came out of the bathroom, I questioned everything from how sanitary the food was to how safe the go-kart track was.  There was no visible signs of major faults with any other aspect of the establishment.  Nevertheless, my senses told me the awful bathroom setup was a symbol of a lack in competence.

Relating this experience back to your business, the bathroom serves as a powerful metaphor. You can do a great job covering all the complex aspects of your business from your product, to sales and marketing, to customer service, but if you fail at the proverbial “creature comforts” no customer will ever recommend you to their friends.

Many entrepreneurs today don’t have bathrooms to worry about since they run their business virtually. However, there are still many other virtual creature comforts your customer will judge you on such as professionalism  how fast you respond to emails, how you maintain your website and social media pages, the way you handle online payments and invoicing, etc.

All entrepreneurs are fortunate that technology has enabled a number of affordable tools that make getting word-of-mouth to go viral easier such as a blogs, social media, and email marketing.  However, no matter how far technology takes us, it will always be easier to advertise to your current customers than to prospects. In addition, prospects will always trust what your current customers say more than they trust you.

The key thing to remember is this: before you can get your word-of-mouth advertising to go viral, you must first take care of the little things that make your current customers comfortable recommending you to their friends.  If those creature comforts are overlooked, your word-of-mouth strategy will be dead on arrival.

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