Not far from where we live is a little breakfast place that my wife and I used to frequent. The food was good, the prices fair, and we liked the owner.
You may notice that the preceding paragraph was all in the past tense. We don’t go there anymore. As time went on, they started to cut back on staff and more than once we were faced with coffee cups with smudges and grimy water glasses. A few months later, the health department temporarily shut down the restaurant for cleanliness violations.
Last I saw, they were remodeling and re-naming the place.
How much money do you think cutting some corners and not being clean cost that little business? Easily in excess of $10,000, what with fines and do-overs. What a sad mistake. What would have worked so much better, and what actually would have been far more economical, would have been for the restaurateur to have created a culture of clean.
A culture of clean is in fact the affordable way to make sure that your high business culture standards are being met, even when you are not around.
Just what is a business culture?
It is the values of your business, personified. How do you do things? What actions and standards do you stress? Do people like working for you or are they scared that they will lose their job if they do something wrong? Do you emphasize the importance of cleanliness or is that, figurative and literally, swept under the rug? Your culture is how people think they are supposed to do their job, based upon the values they are shown to be important.
The issue for most small business people is that they have a culture by default and not design. And the problem with not having a thoughtful, intentional business culture – or worse, having a bad one – is that all sorts of negative things typically stem from it: Rules are broken, shortcuts taken, employees may become resentful or bored, laziness and incompetence can creep in, and sooner rather than later, the business will surely suffer.
Conversely, a positive corporate culture will foster the opposite: The shop will be run right, health, safety, and cleanliness will be incorporated into daily routines, employees feel engaged, and customers notice. A positive culture becomes the oxygen that your business breathes.
And an added bonus is that it costs almost nothing.
All of this then begs the question: How do you create a culture of clean?
- Create clear goals, communicate them, and live by them: The only way you can expect your staff to know what you expect is to tell them what you expect. Create clear goals and values for your company and share them via memos, posters, meetings, conversations and actions.
Your job as a business owner is multi-fold, and one of those duties is to be a leader and enlist your team into your vision.
- Emphasize those values in your training: If, for instance, keeping your location clean and tidy is important to you (and it should be!), then it is incumbent upon you to incorporate those values into specific actions that your staff should take on a daily basis.
- Incorporate your values and culture into your manuals and reviews: Your policies manual, as well as your training manuals and materials, need to specifically spell out these values, priorities, and actions.
- Put someone in charge: What about creating a CCO – a Chief Cleanliness Officer? This person would be in charge of making sure that all appropriate standards are being met on a daily basis. The cleanliness of your shop and the health of your team necessitates that hygiene be a priority.
Creating a culture of clean will not only set your business apart, but it is an easy and affordable way to make sure that things will be done the right way, even when you are not around.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!