Business that’s what!

We recently travelled to Voi by road as a corporate group for a team-building/ workshop/retreat session. The distance to the actual venue we stayed at, would be in total about 400km. The road trip was great!

It served as a bonding session, and there was lots of excitement to see the changes along Mombasa Road that is bringing the metropolis that is Nairobi and Mombasa together, vide infrastructural and business development initiatives along the highway. The progress in the construction of the standard gauge railway also provided fodder for many a conversation in the bus.

What struck me the most though, was the heated debate there was about where to stop for lunch. Although there were many proposals, two main groups emerged with one group proposing we stop at Makindu and the other Mtito Andei .

The debate went on and on with points exchanged about the cost of food, the quality of food, the variety of food, the safety of the food( complete with stories narrated of food poisoning incidents etc) and the quantity of food served with a view to getting value for the money spent.

The food allowance per person was on a limited budget so the need to get good food at a good price was top priority. There was consensus that we stop at a popular roadside joint just after Makindu but before Mtitu Andei. A mid way point.

And then a lady colleague spoke up from the back of the bus and asked the million dollar question – “Are the toilets clean?” She wanted to know if the lunch venue that the team had settled on had decent, clean toilets that we would all be comfortable to use. And then there was dead silence…………………

The next conversations that were had were almost of the prosecutorial variety trying to reign in a suspect. The ladies in the bus especially wanted to know and understand – if the toilets had running water, if they were anywhere near the food sitting area, if they were eastern or western style toilets, if there was a hand wash area, if they were sufficient in number or if people had to queue up, if there was separation of facilities for gents and ladies and lastly if there was lighting in the toilet facilities.

The short of this long story is to let you know, that all 44 people aboard the bus, despite all the conversations, points, motions and counter arguments earlier held, were in consensus that we MUST go to a place with decent toilets. And that is how we ended up having lunch at a place in Makindu known as Quality Café.

The food wasn’t anything to write home about, the service was passable and the cost manageable. But that the toilets were alright and that the team was able to take a decent bathroom break was what carried the day.

It has been said before and rightly so, that the condition of the toilet in any public facility whether a shopping mall, restaurant, bank, church, or any other service provider, determines the customer –centricity of the institution. An institution cares about its customers to the extent that it provides decent washroom facilities and puts in place a system to maintain cleanliness.

So the question goes out to decision makers out here, whether toilet facilities are part of the considerations discussed when looking at customer comfort as a business development source. Toilets are a significant customer touch point and need to make their way into boardroom discussions.

So I ask again, What’s in a Toilet? Business – that’s What!