The Importance of Appearance

As I am writing this post I am sitting in a downtown coffee shop.  I’ve been reading lately that the background noise at the typical coffee house is just the right level to promote creativity but not enough to be distracting.  Since I need all the help that I can get, I thought I would try it out.  You will have to be the judge as to whether there is any enhanced creativity or not.

And, fortunately, this place has given the gift of creativity.  It is not a place that I frequent so I don’t know much about it (the reason that I am here is that it was a convenient place to wait for my wife).  But, now, I can certainly tell you my impression of the place.  I’m not sure that I would trust it with making my food and, honestly, I’m a little dubious about the coffee I’m drinking.

Why is this, you may ask?  It is because the place looks like a mess.  It is not overly busy but tables inside and out are stacked with plates containing the remnants of meals.  Inside, patrons are having to clear space at a table by putting the dirty dishes on another vacated table already covered with dirty dishes.  Outside, the birds are picking at the left over food and knocking over half filled glasses.  It’s a mess.

Staff are constantly coming out to deliver food to tables but the dirty ones go unattended.  Every fifteen minutes or so someone emerges from the depth of the kitchen to attempt to clean the tables.  They take a load away, leave some, and more are added to the pile as people try to clear space at a table.  The clean up staff’s infrequent visits are not enough to keep up with what is being produced in the kitchen.  I’m surprised they haven’t run out of clean plates in the back.

Or perhaps they have?  Are the new plates that they are using just hurriedly wiped down dead plates that the scavengers come out to collect from the battlefield of the meal only to put back into the fray before they are adequately prepared?  If that is how they are treating their plates, how often do they clean their kitchen?  Is the food properly stored?  When I poured my cup of coffee from the air pot it seemed to be lukewarm.  How long had it been sitting there?  This isn’t very fresh is it?

All of these suppositions and the running wild of the imagination are the result of clues that the shop’s management is communicating to its customers.  If they aren’t organized enough to maintain the front of the house, how can I assume that they can manage the back of the house?

The same is true with convenience store – especially if you have any type of food service.  Trash in the parking lot, dirty floors, dust on the items on the shelves, and, most importantly, dirty rest rooms, all contribute to the image that your customer is building in her brain.  You may run the cleanest, safest, and hygienic kitchen in the state but if your customers don’t believe it – it isn’t true.  As one of my favorite sayings go: Perception is Reality.  It is up to you to control the perception.