From pizzerias to hotels, business owners and managers have ample opportunities to escape public relations nightmares.
Employee training, policy updates and common sense can go a long way toward keeping customers and guests as happy as possible.
When something goes wrong – the New York strip steak is under-cooked or the irate shopper misunderstands the sale on sterling silver necklaces– you can quickly make things right.
But what happens when newborn John or 1-year-old Abby makes a mess in a diaper?
Panic doesn’t need to set in a supermarket, hotel, restaurant, department store, amusement park, or museum filled with moms, dads and babies.
It's just a normal part of life and everything should work out. The caregiver will find your restroom baby changing station and take care of business…unless you never installed one.
Without a baby changing station, you risk losing customers as well as referrals. In other words, word-of-mouth marketing will suffer if you don’t want to spend a few hundred to upgrade your washrooms.
Rate the risks and size up the costs. The following real-life situations affected Chipotle and Starbucks. The other scenarios can play out on any given day.
1. Yes, It Keeps Happening – on Dining Room Tables
You don’t need to stretch your imagination to describe how fecal matter could get out of hand. Just ask Chipotle and Starbucks.
In the case of a Chipotle in the Midwest, a mom swapped her 16-month-old daughter’s diaper on a table in the dining area, according to a 2014 post in the Consumerist. Apparently she was frustrated because the restaurant’s restroom didn’t include a changing table. The Starbucks incident even involved police (but no arrests) after tempers reportedly flared when a Denver mom changed her 1-year-old baby’s dirty diaper on a seat for the coffee shop’s patrons.
2. Monsoon Mom
It’s Thursday afternoon and wind gusts are starting to pick up with heavy rains outside your restaurant. A mom, her baby (Julie) and two other children (ages 4 and 6) enjoy their lunches Suddenly, it’s time to replace that that super soggy diaper with a fresh one.
When she discovers that your restroom lacks a diaper changing station, she changes Julie while sitting on one of your toilets. Her other children wait outside the stall. The mom didn’t want to leave her older kids in the restaurant while racing to her car.
What if she had wiped out in your parking lot? Will she be back? What will she tell friends and neighbors?
3. Lobby of Last Resort
To beat some vacation traffic, a family decides to arrive early and hang out in your hotel lobby because their room won’t be ready for two hours. Your team lets them know you’ll get them a room as soon as possible.
Mom wanders out to the beach with three of their four children (ages 5, 9 and 13), leaving dad and their toddler to wait inside.
Moments later, Michael, who just turned 2, makes a hefty deposit. And he’s cranky. Dad is disappointed when he can’t find a baby changing station in your restroom. Furious, he removes the smelly diaper on the floor along a lobby wall. Some existing guests happen to walk by and are stunned by the unsightly body fluids. An assistant manager asks the dad to finish up outside. He complies, cancels his reservation and the family finds a new hotel for their seven-day vacation.
4. Supermarket – Cleanup Near Aisle 7
A mom takes her 3-year-old son and baby daughter Cassidy to a popular supermarket. Her son pleads to go the restroom. Mom enters the women’s room and he uses a stall. The mom notes that the restroom doesn’t feature a baby changing station.
About 20 minutes later, she grabs the remaining groceries, including milk and ice cream. Noticing a short line at the meat counter, the mom decided to order a pound of baked ham. And that’s when Cassidy has an ill-timed bout of diarrhea.
Quickly concerned about her daughter – the mom resorts to changing the diaper in the cart while keeping her spot in line. The customer in front of her can’t take the smell and steps several feet away.
5. Game Arcade: Collision Course
A dad takes his two sons, Brian, 9 and Anthony, 7 to a game arcade at the local mall. He also brings James, a 6-month-old. The dad figures he can handle James for an hour while his other sons shoot hoops or destroy aliens.
Unfortunately, 10 minutes later, James decided it was time to pee. The dad approaches a worker at the redemption counter and asks whether the men’s restroom has a changing table. “Not yet” is the short answer.
Trying his best to improvise, the dad pushes James in his stroller to the men’s room. All three stalls are in use. He places James on a changing pad on the floor. Just then, six boys rush in and one of them bumps the dad taking care of James.
The dad keeps his temper in check, takes some pictures of the bathroom and rants about the incident all over social media, including his popular blog about single dads.
What are your plans?
If your facility doesn’t have enough (or any) baby changing stations, how will you respond when a mom, dad or caregiver needs to make a quick decision to remove a newly soiled diaper?