Yes, I Love Bacon, But Not That Much!

By Sharon Worsley

Recently I went to a fast-food franchise to check out their menu, as I had heard great things about this chain. While I am not a regular customer of fast-food restaurants, there was a location convenient to where I was, so I thought I would drop by and try it out.

While watching my hamburger being prepared, I noticed the employee remove a few pieces of bacon from a wire container to place on my burger. The container was handing off a wall and was more than half full.

I asked the woman how long the bacon had been sitting in the container, and she said that the policy was to cook a basket full of bacon each morning when they first opened. Then they would leave the bacon in that spot all day until they closed.

This concerned me as it was now about 8 pm and I couldn’t help but wonder how safe the bacon was after being left out for more than 10 hours.

Immediately I asked her to remove the bacon even though I had paid extra for it, just in case it was no longer safe to eat. She did so, and while I felt better about my meal, I kept thinking about their food safety handling.

I had previously worked in the hospitality industry at a hotel, and there were certain protocols concerning food safety. The next morning, I called the franchise headquarters to find out what they advise their franchise owners to do about cooked food and storage.

I explained to the person I spoke with what my concern was, including giving the time and location of the restaurant. While this person could not directly help me, I was assured someone would call me to address my concern.

I also mentioned that I would be calling the health and safety department of my city to report this experience, to show them I was serious about this matter. It is now over two months, and I have yet to hear from anyone.

Meanwhile, I heard back from the health and safety department within of days of making the call. The health inspector went to the location, and she advised me that the restaurant was not being compliant in the handling of food. Interestingly, the box the bacon came in had a warning that bacon should be refrigerated within two hours of being cooked. She pointed this out to the manager but was told that this is what staff had been informed to do by the company.

As you can imagine, it is not likely that I will be going back to this restaurant. Plus, I have now shared my experience with others.

Being a business owner, this is not what you would want to happen in your business.

A customer, client or patient (depending on your industry) has a ‘not so great experience’ with your business and like in my case you don’t show any concern by returning a call and addressing the problem.

What do you think happens when you don’t take action? As I have shown above, not only will I not go there again, but I have shared the experience with others, and they probably won’t go there either. Being part of a franchise, I won’t just be avoiding that one location but all locations, because it was confirmed to me by the woman working the grill that this is their standard operating procedure.

The other day I was at a different franchise restaurant where I asked the man who took my order to please wash his hands as he had just rubbed his beard while taking my money. However, his work colleague started to fulfil the order.

I then noticed this woman took the sandwich I ordered out of the fridge and made her way to the grill. Just before placing the sandwich on the grill, she put it down so she could take her left hand and place it over her right shoulder so she could scratch her back, under her shirt. Guess what, she didn’t wash her hands afterwards but instead started to grill my sandwich.

While she was doing that the man who originally took the order started to make my drink, not having washed his hands.

So, what did I do? I walked away without the items I had paid for. Yes, I could have cancelled my order and requested a refund, but there was a long lineup of people waiting to order, so I wasn’t prepared to wait nor have to deal with making such request.

This is not the first time I have ordered here and encountered similar experiences, but when each of the other times occurred, I had requested the person to wash their hands, and they complied.

Now this location, which is close to where I work and where I frequently went for food, will no longer be getting my business.

What can you learn from the two experiences I have outlined above? If you consider the costs of acquiring a new customer, then you can probably learn a valuable lesson.

Too often businesses I have encountered take for granted that if someone doesn’t choose to come back to them to purchase again that there will be new customers lining up at their door (even if there is no actual physical door because the business is online).

That is a dangerous position to place yourself in as there is plenty of competition out there. If you think you don’t have competition, then you may be deluding yourself, as there is always competition, even if your service offering might truly be better than your competitor. If customers are displeased with the service they get, they are more likely to go to a competitor even if the quality is less.

Points to Ponder:
• What can you learn from my experiences and implement within your organization?
• Have you reached out to past customers to find out why they no longer buy from you? You might find some valuable insights on easy changes that can be made so you can avoid some future loss of customers.
• Think back to some unexceptional experiences you had witnessed as a customer and consider what could have been done differently to keep you coming back.

Sharon Worsley, The Business Development Ninja™ is the creator of the R7 System™ to Flood Your Business With Clients Today, Tomorrow and Beyond, helping businesses to ‘Wake Up, Shake Up, and Show Up.’ She also consults and coaches peak performers to excel as leaders. To learn more, contact Sharon at info@sharonworsley.com.

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