First impressions: How clean is your restaurant?
That is the question here. Nothing puts people off more than a dirty dining environment. Restaurant owners should know that this especially applies to them. That first impression is vitally important.
Put yourself in your customer’s place
As customers, we decide to eat in a certain place for different reasons, but we don’t stand in the doorway and carefully scan the restaurant for dirt. Unless the restaurant is blatantly grubby our first true impressions come once we have sat down. It is only then that people start to look around.
Customers may overlook many things when eating out, but general hygiene isn’t one of them. The perception of cleanliness is of the utmost importance to create a good first impression.
Creating a lasting good impression
Restaurateurs need to make a good lasting impression over and over again. The aim of any restaurant is to attract regular customers, so every time those customers come back, they need to see the same high standard of cleanliness. A clean dining environment will relax your customers and they will enjoy eating in your restaurant.
A clean environment equals a great atmosphere
Most restaurants follow some sort of style or motif that adds to the atmosphere they want to create. Some are pretty stark and basic, others are cluttered and cosy, but all have some kind of decoration. What if those decorations have a film of dust or cobwebs?
Check for substandard cleanliness:
- Unclean cutlery or crockery
- Stained tablecloths
- Sticky table tops
- Dirty floors and other surfaces
All these examples can and will damage that all-important first impression in any restaurant, hotel or pub establishment.
Take Pride in Your Restaurant and Service
Your staff may be cheerful and efficient, the service rapid and the food top-notch, but a grubby dining area can easily damage how customers view your restaurant. A small ball of fluff in the corner may be forgiven or overlooked, as any housewife knows, any area in constant use is hard to keep completely clean, but more obvious things will make people think twice about the overall standard of hygiene. You don’t want your customers to start wondering about the levels of cleanliness in the unseen areas, especially the kitchens.
The number one reason people use certain restaurants is, of course, the taste of the food, but a very close second is cleanliness. The food may be good, but low standards of cleanliness may well make customers think twice about using it again. One of the worst pet hates is seeing the aftermath of someone else’s meal lying on the table. Food debris and dirty crockery that isn’t cleared away doesn’t leave a good first impression in any restaurant. Clean and cleared tables are a must.
Other Cleanliness Considerations
- Dirty floors: the second in importance to customers.
- Clean bathrooms: sufficient ventilation is a must. Clean floors and other surfaces. Scent dispensers are a good idea. Most women won’t return to a restaurant with a dirty bathroom.
- Outside appearance: a clean façade is important. Clean windows without smudges.
- Staff hygiene: smart uniforms without dirt or stains give good impressions
Delivering food that is delicious and in a timely manner is a high-pressure business. It’s all about bums on seats. Every restaurant wants to make a profit and to do so, you need to have repeat and regular customers. No restaurant can survive with just random customers that walk in off the street. What you need is a reputation and people to engage in recommendations. To attract and retain new customers means that the first impression is a one-shot opportunity.
Good service and culinary excellence are all very well, but if the state of your establishment lets you down, all that time and effort are a waste. You can’t afford to overlook cleanliness or the appearance of it.
Tried and Tested: A standard of hygiene
Love them or hate them, the major fast-food chains have set a standard of hygiene and vigilance towards cleanliness that is hard to beat.
People who use them on a regular basis have come to expect a clean dining area that is second to none. Although your establishment may be the opposite of those, their constant preoccupation with that detail helps them maintain their market share.
Make no mistake about it, the perception of attention to hygiene and cleanliness can adversely impact your business if not taken seriously. Not only does your restaurant need to be clean and tidy, but management and staff also have to show they are conscious of the importance of those details during the hours of business.
Prominently displayed items such as facial tissues, wipes and hand sanitisers will indicate to your customers that you take the responsibility of maintaining a clean environment seriously.
A final note on first impressions
It is believed that it takes just a few seconds to form an impression of someone. That initial contact colours your relationship with the other person. On a personal level that can change with more knowledge, but in a business environment, especially the catering sector, that is difficult. There aren’t many second chances.
A solution is to hire an outside cleaning crew. A company dedicated to cleaning, one that understands the hygiene challenges of your particular type of business. A thorough clean up, top to bottom, on a rest day or overnight. Get at that dirt lingering in the nooks and crannies. Around food preparation a lot of bacteria can be found, most of it with unpronounceable names and horrible consequences that you don’t want to think about. Your staff may be diligent, but during the busy opening hours, they don’t have the time for more than superficial cleaning. Set your mind at rest and those of your customers too by investing in regular, scheduled cleanups.