Friday, November 26, 2004

Holiday Insights & Protecting your clients

The Holiday season is just kicking off now and with it comes the numerous office parties and luncheons at the work place. This brings back memories of a confrontation and situation we had last year with a customer's employee.

During one of the regular cleaning nights a team leader contacted me and was seeking some advice in regards to food left out from a party that day. I stopped by the building and in the company cafeteria there were donuts, untouched in the box, open boxes of bagels and other pastries. There was also open tubs of butter, cream cheese, flavored coffee creamers etc...

Realizing that most of this had probably been out all day I instructed the staff to dispose of the entire mess except for the donuts in the sealed plastic tray. After-all, the bacteria growth on the exposed food would make someone eating it now, very ill.

Well, the next morning I get a nasty email from one of the employees who works at that site, complaining that my staff threw out all their food. I replied that the food would have been spoiled the following morning and unsafe to eat and that L & K Cleaning was looking out for their health in discarding the food.

I went so far as to do some net research on the safe handling of food leftovers and sent her the following links: Health Beat ,
USDA Food Safety

This unfortunately set her off even more, I received another email, this time saying that she thought our cleaners were taking the food home and were probably responsible for all the missing sandwiches for the entire year. Being an intuitive business person I realized that I was not going to win this one so I went to a high end bakery, purchased 2 dozen bagels, a dozen pastries and some exotic whipped butters and cream cheeses. I then drove over to the building and delivered them with a card from L & K to the person complaining.

Nothing more was said or communicated after this incident. Until one night around 3-4 days later I was going into the building lobby and the vice-president of the company was coming out. He stopped me and thanked me for the unexpected goodies! I briefly explained what had happened, that our cleaners had followed my instructions but that I felt bad and decided to replace the food. He looked at me kind of strange, nodded and left.

2 days later I get an email from the VP:

Mr. Galo, we are extremely sorry that you had to go out of your way and replace the food items. I had our IT person call up the emails that were exchanged between you and our employee. I found your concern for our employees health to be commendable and reaching far beyond what I would expect. I am, in fact, having this published in our company newsletter along with the information you provided concerning safe food handling. You will be credited with, what I feel, saving the staff from themselves.
T.S., VP

This year, the instructions to the staff are the same. If it's been out when you arrive and no one is currently working, toss it. I will buy new if it comes to that.