If you’re jumping into this series a little late, be sure to check out the first two posts (When you Suck: Owning it and When you Suck: Expecting it). Today I want to explore the price we pay in regard to this issue.

What I’ve found is that there’s a price to pay either way you go. When you suck, you’re going to lose a customer, upset a family or create some other kind of negative experience. However, to build the system to prevent failure, well, that’s going to cost you as well. It’s going to cost you time, energy or money. Let me explain about a few recent experiences with bathrooms.

Several months ago, we were evaluating our Good Friday and Easter services and in all the evaluation someone brought up the bathrooms. We have a cleaning crew come through the night before our services and they clean up again after services, but for Easter, no one had adjusted the cleaning crew’s normal schedule. Because of the larger than normal crowds, our bathrooms were trashed after our first service and we didn’t have a plan to clean them and restock TP and paper towels between services.

A few months later I was flying to Atlanta for a meeting. I stopped in on a bathroom right across from an Atlanta Bread Co. I tend to eat at when traveling through ATL. I remember walking into the bathroom and saying to myself, “this is one of the cleanest bathrooms I’ve ever been in.” I don’t know why it stood out so clearly for me. It smelled clean (not overpowered by bleach), but very nice. It even look like it might have been recently remodeled. When flying home the very next day, I stopped into this same bathroom. As I stepped in, I was reminded by the positive experience I had the day before. I took 3 steps in and immediately turned around to go find another bathroom. The smell was overwhelming. It looked like the bathroom hadn’t been cleaned in weeks. Wow.

Lastly, I had the privilege of visiting a Buc-ees a few months ago. If you’ve not heard of this, it’s like the child of a Texaco and a Wal-Mart. It’s the biggest highway gas station I’ve ever seen. It’s a totally fun experience, they have everything there and everything is branded with the Buc-ee Beaver. One thing people always told me about Buc-ee’s was that the bathrooms are immaculate. I had to see for myself and it was true, they were perfect. However, every time I’ve gone to a Buc-ee’s (which is only twice) there has been an employee in the bathroom cleaning. I’m not sure that guy ever leaves.

Here’s what I learned about my bathroom experiences. It doesn’t matter how great the bathroom is, you’re one visit or one hour from the bathroom being a turn-off. What could have been a really great experience can turn into a very negative experience in a very quick time period. The only way to ensure your bathroom experience is stellar is to have someone cleaning it non-stop. Interestingly, that’s what Buc-ee’s has done. They pay the price of having someone there non-stop, but their bathrooms have become as legendary as the crazy huge gas stations they have built.

Obviously, this applies to more than just bathrooms. This applies to everything! it doesn’t matter how great your check-in system is, how incredible your environment is or the quality of your AV Equipment. It only takes one moment for this thing that was supposed to be so great to become the reason someone doesn’t come back to your church. It can happen in a moment and that’s the price of failure. However, there’s another price you can pay and it could prevent a lost family. It’s the price of putting a volunteer in charge of wiping down sinks, toilets and countertops every 15 minutes. It’s the price of putting well trained volunteers in your tech-booth. It’s the price of putting the right people as hospitality and check-in to work your state of the art check-in system.

You’re going to pay a price either way, it’s up to you on what that price is.