Embarrassing, but what to do?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by foodnfoto, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    We own a small ice pop/coffee/smoothie/organic snack shop in a quaint village. Long story short, one of our loyal customers is a very nice woman who comes in almost every day, always buys something and hangs out for a while using the free wi-fi. 

    All of this is fine, except for one thing---she smells. Not BO per se, more like she just can't be bothered to launder her clothes. 

    Did I mention our shop is small, I mean small! Only about 400 sf in the retail section.

    When Smelly is here, her odor fills the place and has driven some customers away-really, only once or twice as it's slow right now.

    Business being slow, it looks good to have folks in the chairs and we need every penny we can make. However, her smell makes it uncomfortable for me, in my own shop! When she leaves, I clean immediately and spray air fresh, but she seems to stick in my nose.

    What in the world can I do? Is there a way to gently address the issue with her? Another cafe (a dump btw) across the street did so in a passive-aggressive manner and she now trashes them to any one who will listen. 

    Now I feel stuck with her. Any suggestions?
     
  2. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    Foodnfoto,

     I think it calls for alot of diplomacy. The last thing you want is this person to be hurt and you would not want her talking bad your establishment either if it was not handled properly.

    That being said , I found a bit of info off the net from a site dealing with that....

    "Emily Post website:
     
    I happen to agree with this advice - if I were the stinky one, I would want to be told. As gently as possible. I would really prefer to hear it from another coworker rather than management, since coming from management, it seems like an official scolding. If I were unaware of the problem (which is very possible) or unsure of how to fix it (assuming it's not a hygiene issue), I'd rather find out from someone I know is just telling me out of concern for my health rather than finding out that a bunch of my coworkers complained to HR about my stink!

    If you're the lucky winner who ends up saying something, I'd approach it forthrightly and kindly: "Mary, I really don't want to embarrass you, but I feel like ought to say something since I hope you would say something to me. I've noticed that you have a body odor, and while I know that it has nothing to do with your hygiene habits, I'm concerned that someone who doesn't know you as well as I do might come to the wrong conclusion."

    If she seems surprised, be quick to jump in with the fact that there can be medical causes for body odor (they're rare, but you don't have to know that) and suggest she see a doctor since you would hate to find out that it's a symptom of a more serious problem. Do lots of kind smiling and laughing, and be ready with an embarrassing story about yourself so that she doesn't feel so singled out. "

    You said she is loyal and nice, I think she deserves honesty and compassion. If it does not work then.....

    Petals.
     
  3. cookers

    cookers

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    Get her before she leaves. Take her somewhere private. ''Mary I've noticed the past two days when you were in here a bad scent nearby. It's nobody's business but I thought I would let you know incase maybe it's a perfume that went bad or something you stepped in that has left a bad scent. It's nothing to be embarrassed about.'' 

    At this point, quickly try to remove yourself from the situation and ask her if she would like a drink to go. It's always better to just be honest with people and treat them with respect. Also you said she trash talks the rival business that was mean to her. You don't want that reputation whether it's a bum or Gordon Ramsay telling someone something bad about your business. If the problem continues and you're losing customers, then it's in your best interest to remove her from your store. 
     
  4. iceman

    iceman

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    Ask her what brand/style of soap/shampoo she is using because you can't figure it out. You really like it and want to give it a try and start using it. 
     
  5. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Hi, My name is Mary.........only kidding...........I have had employees that I had to tell to take a bath, use deodorant, and don't breath on any one. I have had cocktail waitresses that I could smell their perfume in the restaurant, from the parking lot. I have never had this problem, I think no matter how you tell her, she will be embarrassed, no way around it.........I think shes taking your Organic snack shop a bit to much to heart......................ChefBillyB
     
  6. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    Thanks for the advice guys. Kindness is certainly the way to go.

    We do like her and share some common experiences-alum of same university and such. I think her smell is part of a larger problem. I've seen her car and it's crammed full of junk-trash-whatever, which makes me assume she might have a hoarding problem. It's obvious to anyone who looks at her that she should become good friends with a washing machine.

    Perfume is one thing, but this is something else entirely.
     
  7. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    fnf.....I envy people that have communication skills to work out this problem, what keeps popping up in my mind is..."front of the house vs back of the house personalities"....

    relationships between family, your staff, strangers, customers all are so different.  Staff you oversee and that impact your business is different than customers...

    Let us know how you resolve your odiferous prob please, it's an education reading this thread.....
     
  8. iceman

    iceman

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    You could hire some unknown person (unknown to everyone else but you) to just be a foil and tell her that she stinks. The person would act like an ordinary customer, and just let her know. She would hear the truth and it would be off your hands. Hopefully she would get the idea and change her ways. 
     
  9. bonesdilligaf

    bonesdilligaf

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    BRILLIANT!

    I love this idea!

    for your situation being it is a woman, having another woman tell her in a nice way... have her sit at table next to her, or with her and "nicely" tell her ...

    saves face for you, and hopefully clears the air...
     
  10. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    ICEMAN you are a genius!!!
     
  11. chefseth70

    chefseth70

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    turn off the wifi when she shows up