Halo employee cleaning a restaurant's kitchen's floors in Addison, TX

Restaurants: Keeping Them Clean to Keep Customers Happy

A delicious meal is easily ruined by a negative atmosphere, no matter how great the restaurant might be. That negative atmosphere can arise from unruly patrons, surly waiters, or an unclean restaurant.

While the first two can be forgiven as a one-time issue, restaurant uncleanliness can easily lead to loss of customer loyalty. For most people, the presentation of the restaurant is just as important, if not more so, than the food itself.

The Impact of an Unclean Restaurant

Studies show that one unclean area of a restaurant can lead to questioning hygiene practices in other areas and sometimes even an immediate departure. A survey of 2,000 people by Proctor and Gamble Professional showed that 90% of customers consider cleanliness as a hallmark of a good food business.

It’s About Safety Too

Safety considerations are also an aspect of restaurant cleanliness. As restaurant owners know, there are standards of practice to adhere to in order to maintain licensing and recognition. The last thing a restaurant owner needs on an already hectic schedule is the addition of mold, bacteria, or unwanted pests to their place of business.

Furthermore, foodborne diseases have led to 48 million illnesses and as many as 3,000 deaths nationwide each year. As studies have shown, a staggering number of those deaths arise from restaurant experiences.

Suffice to say, sanitation and restaurant cleanliness are essential for food safety and hygiene as well as public perception.

First Looks, First Impressions

From the outside, customers start making judgments from the moment they enter the parking lot. Senses kick into overdrive as they take in every message you send via sight, smell, and sound. Whether the customer is hypercritical or overtly aware of their surroundings or not, here are some of the things they may notice right away:

  • Overflowing dumpsters or trashcans: Yes, dumpsters are typically not in the front of the parking lot, but customers will still notice if they drive around the building and see an overflowing dumpster or trash littered around the area. Trashcans immediately in front of the business can give the same effect if not taken care of and emptied regularly.
  • Unkempt or overgrown landscaping: Landscaping should be well-groomed and enhance the appearance of the business. The opposite gives an untidy and even an “out of business” appearance.
  • Smudged or dirty windows and doors: This is one of the first things people notice and can easily leave a negative impression as they literally walk through the door. Any glass surface should be cleared multiple times a day and door handles wiped down and sanitized as well.
  • Trash on the sidewalk or parking lot area: Whether the parking lot is a shared space or not, trash here or in the area can be easily associated with the business. Take responsibility to keep both areas clean to really show the commitment to care.
  • Broken or dirty patio furniture: If this applies to you, just know outdoor dining furniture should be as well maintained as indoor dining furniture.
  • Dirty sidewalks: Yes, there is foot traffic here that can be hard to control. However, sidewalks should be swept daily – preferably with a bristle deck brush to really get out the dirt and grime.

It’s the Inside that Counts

So, even if a kitchen is immaculate and hygienic, an overrun exterior or odorous bathroom can be enough to deter a customer from returning. Customers report that some of the first things they notice upon entering a restaurant include:

  • Unpleasant/foul odor: Either from spoiled food on site or an unclean restroom.
  • Dirty or sticky floors/carpets: Spills happen and should be cleaned throughout the day, but a daily wash and vacuuming are also necessary.
  • Stained, spotty, or dirty dishes, glasses, or utensils: Poor washing habits and lack of attention leads to this easily preventable mistake.
  • Clean floors, tables, and chairs: When the job is done right, people notice!
  • Sticky tables and chairs: On the reverse, people really notice when it is done wrong. Tables can be sticky even after a wipe down and require adequate sanitation solution to really disinfect and clean.
  • Clean and well-kept restrooms: This can be hard as the activity in the restroom is unpredictable. Restrooms should be maintained throughout the day and thoroughly after hours as well. Keeping it well-stocked on toilet paper, towels, and hand soap also speaks volumes about hygiene importance. Restroom floors also need to be mopped thoroughly each day to disinfect. Bonus points if it is sparkly and smells nice.
  • Clean countertop or register area: This is the workspace for some restaurants and should be maintained with care and enthusiasm. Keep this area clean to avoid customers leaning into a sticky mess, especially if this is also where they order the food.

But the Food!

Yes, the food is obviously of extreme importance in the success of a restaurant. The attention to cuisine can sometimes leave little to no time for the upkeep and cleanliness of the restaurant.

However, cleanliness and customer satisfaction are also critical to creating satisfied and loyal customers. Never underestimate the power of a freshly cleaned bathroom or an attention to detail. Customers leave reviews, and sometimes an unclean restaurant will lead to a negative review. Once people catch wind of poor sanitation or hygiene practices, they avoid the restaurant like, well, the plague.

What Can You Do?

The bottom line is that a long, happy day in the kitchen is easily spoiled by a long night spent cleaning. Maintaining restaurant cleanliness should be a standard practice, but a nightly cleaning is also necessary.

Fortunately, there are many services out there that focus on helping restaurants obtain and retain those loyal customers through the power of a clean restaurant. These janitorial services offer nightly front-of-house cleaning and give the attention to detail to ledges, baseboards, windows, floors, table bases and booth crevices. They can also help with back-of-house, including ceiling tiles and vents, wall shelves and racks, equipment, floors, mats, and floor drains.

Never let a good meal be marred by a poor environment. Keep the space clean, keep the customers happy, and keep them coming back for more.

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