The Guest Experience – Keeping it Clean

There is nothing worse than a dirty restaurant. To be seated at a table that has not been properly cleaned from a previous dinner is a sign of laziness and complacency. Chairs or booths that are loaded with crumbs, sticky dirty tables, a filthy floor, soiled linen, greasy menus; cutlery, glasses, cups and plates with dried up food, lipstick stains or some anonymous residue, unpleasant odors and unsanitary restrooms can have your customers walking right out the door with no second chances.

Cleanliness, sanitation, employee personal hygiene, and appearance must be the absolute top priorities at any restaurant. Training employees on everyday cleaning and hiring professional companies for deep cleaning and pest control is the only way to ensure that your restaurant is clean and that it stays that way. Even if you have delicious food and stellar customer service, your patrons will remember the cleanliness of the restaurant and that will determine whether they return or not. A guest would rather wait to be seated at a clean table than to be seated at one that is not!

Customers expect cleanliness as soon as they approach the restaurant. They will notice everything from the parking lot, the surrounding area, the entrance and beyond and so should you. Pay attention, be objective and take a hard look around, try seeing everything through your customer’s eyes. Staff and management should constantly walk around the restaurant, from the inside to the outside and the restrooms, especially the restrooms…they need to be clean, well-lit and well-well stocked. Believe it or not, dirty restrooms are the primary reason customers don’t return.

A clean restaurant is part of the ambiance and the most important component of the customer experience. Ambiance affects profitability. A clean restaurant will attract new customers and keep the ones you already have. Today’s diners are savvier and less forgiving about a restaurant’s appearance and more particular about where they spend their money. So, they will choose a place where they don’t have to worry about the cleanliness of a restaurant, contaminants and bad service. If they don’t get the experience they want, they will get it someplace else.

One of the biggest mistakes restaurant owners and managers make is focusing too much attention on attracting new customers and not enough attention on keeping loyal customers who return time and time again. Return visitors are vital to the success of your business, not only do they provide steady income, but they are your best word-of-mouth marketing tool.  Negative customer complaints spread like wildfire and it can be difficult, costly and sometimes impossible to undo the damage because ‘the customer is always right’ even when they’re wrong!

The bottom line is you cannot afford to have a dirty restaurant! A clean establishment is a direct reflection on the pride and commitment you have to your business and it will result in increased profits and set you apart from your competition and let’s face it, there is plenty of competition out there. First impressions of a restaurant set the tone for the guest experience and first impressions are lasting impressions.

It is the job of every restaurateur, management and staff to not only meet guest expectations but to exceed them and this can be achieved through a clean restaurant and by creating an unrivaled guest experience.