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Steve Marr Blog

Steve Marr's contributions

Aug 10

Do You Brush Your Teeth?

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

I know this is a strange way to start a blog. The answer is rather obvious.  However, sometimes I’ve worked with a client who does not invest time, effort or money in daily housekeeping activities. On these occasions when I feel I am not making any progress with these concerns, I startle them with the simple question “Do you brush your teeth?” They roll their eyes and often give me an offended stare.


I explain that by brushing our teeth 2-4 times a day, using dental floss and other preventive steps; we can keep our teeth in good condition. I remind them of the poster in many dentist offices, “Only floss the teeth you would like to keep.”  I compare this simple hygiene practice to the housekeeping activities of a business such as cleaning the bathrooms, keeping the trash from overflowing and other activities that are necessary to keep everything looking professional. When we neglect these functions we become object lessons for the example King Solomon wrote about:  “Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks.” (Ecclesiastes 10:18, NIV).

When I visit a business I generally ask to use the restroom even if my stop is unnecessary. I believe that the cleanliness and orderliness of a restroom in a business is a bellwether for how they maintain other facets of the business. I realize not everyone’s restroom will be perfect and may not have been attended to in the last couple of hours. However, you can still get an indication about the priority of its care with a quick glance.

“Isaac” owned a car repair shop. In the customer waiting area magazines were scattered everywhere. Some of the issues were two or three years old. Also there was an eclectic combination of posters and unnecessary communication on the walls.  One poster suggested that customers wishing to complain could call 1-800-GET-LOST. While Isaac may have viewed this with some humor, a customer encountering a problem likely would not. By just removing clutter, he could make the waiting room look neater and inviting to his customers.

Cleaning up clutter is not limited to your office. “Mike” was a real estate salesman who frequently drove customers to and from real estate in his car. While I understood that he needed to carry listings and other paperwork, he frequently kept out-of-date paperwork from previous customers.  I even saw yesterday’s sandwich wrapping. I suggested to Mike that he was sending a negative message to his customers that he was disorganized, sloppy and not necessarily reliable. Mike responded that he didn’t think the clutter made much difference because clients never said anything. I pointed out to Mike that a lot of us think things we decide not to say. I simply gave him the principle and he was free to take my advice or not.

So often these little items make a big difference in the message you send to customers. Take a few minutes to clean up your space. You will improve your customer response and likely grow your sales.

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