Last evening, I took the family to the annual Christmas light ceremony at one of the local shopping areas. This one is a big deal in my town. A few hundred thousand people typically gather for this one.
We wanted some hot chocolate and coffee so we decided to brave the line at one of the local coffee shops, Latte Land, which is usually well run. I wasn’t surprised to see they had a temporary “Thanksgiving Menu” displayed that had a smaller selection, fewer sizes and higher prices. I would do something like that myself. The lesser selection helps them focus their operations on speed and the higher prices recognize the higher demenad for that night. Judging from the length of the line, they could have charged more.
But, the overreach seemed to be in their bathroom policy and the way they executed. It was no surprise to me that their bathroom was not open. Had it been, it would have been mobbed. But, this didn’t go unnoticed. Several people had to go really bad, my son included. I eventually had to escort him to the nearest bush.
I didn’t have a problem with their bathroom policy, but I would recommend better execution.
Their execution: They taped a handwritten sign on the bathroom door that said “Restroom out of service.” I saw several people make comments to the staff, “You’re charging me extra and I can’t use your bathroom?” To which, the staff responded with flustered looks, shrugged shoulders or ignored the clients all together hiding behind the shroud of their overwhelming demand.
My recommended execution: Since the lighting ceremony is a festival that attracts hundreds of thousands, the shopping area provides porta-potties to handle the extra demand. Latte Land did such a nice job with the print and lettering on their special Thanksgiving Menu, I would recommend they put the same effort into their special Thanksgiving Bathroom Policy. They could have printed up nice signs for the front door and bathroom door that said, “We apologize that our bathroom will not be available during the Christmas Lighting Ceremony. You will find festival facilities located one block north from our location.” While that might not have set well with clients, that would be upfront and lets them know where they can go.
Further, I would have trained my staff to respond nicely to questions about the policy. Something like, “We’re very sorry. We understand your frustration. But, if the bathroom was open, we wouldn’t be able to serve coffee because the line to the bathroom would be too long. Porta potties are provided just one block north of here.”
Again, this would have still frustrated many, but it’s upfront, honest, official and, most important, helpful. Much more so than the hand scrawled note in the back and the flustered looks.