By Ian Ferguson
Some years ago, Bahamians shared an axiom that became so popular many believed it to be words of sacred scripture: Cleanliness is next to godliness. This adage, in simplistic terms, meant that failure to keep intact, and in proper order, all that God has given in his creation was an insult to his gift and, by extension, sin and idolatry. We inferred that God loves order, and that ‘nasty’ people were on their way to hell.
Perhaps I have stretched this a little, but the thought remains that there is something spiritually foul with persons who have total disregard for their physical surroundings, and carelessly leave trash and refuse in unsightly places.
This reality becomes even more pronounced when it refers to persons in business who, by virtue of acquiring a Business License, invite guests/customers into their space, thereby making it public. Our conversation then reminds the business person of their responsibility to maintain establishments that are inviting to all.
I have always marvelled at people who, despite their impoverished or economically depressed state, choose to keep their yards, business places and personal spaces, immaculate. The people of Hope Town, Abaco, and Freeport, Grand Bahama, come to mind. Somehow these people have been conditioned into ensuring that their environment remains in a customer and visitor-friendly state. The air seems fresher, cleaner, better.
Here are three benefits of a clean business establishment, and why many of our Bahamian businesses and companies need to do things differently after reading this article:
* The obvious - Clean environments are more attractive and inviting to the guest or visitor. People want to do business with persons who seem organised and tidy.
* Clean and tidy environments harbour fewer disease-carrying rodents, particularly in food and beverage environments. This proves beneficial to the health and safety needs of the customer.
* Clean environments provide the aesthetic space where creativity and ingenuity thrive. Clutter is often associated with confusion and disarray.
* An orderly space typically denotes a strong brand, and persons who are committed to putting in the work to maintain the brand image and promise. Lazy people allow their environment to become filthy.
It appears as if the days when our grandparents swept their homes and yards every morning and evening without fail have long been lost. That generation of Bahamians taught us that your socio-economic standing, or the affluence of your company in the business community, should not - and must not - dictate the extent to which you present the best image of your brand.
Visitors who come to the Bahamas have long said of us, in the exit survey we conduct and analyse each year, that we are a people who must take better care of our natural environment. In fact this has been one of the top six things visitors dislike most about the Bahamas for some years.
We have essentially said in this short discourse that if we are to produce any improvements in this area of our country’s existence, we must change our way of thinking. When our thoughts change, and our mindset shifts towards keeping our living and business areas clean, then our actions will change as well.
• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.