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How restaurant cleanliness affects guest experience

Restaurant cleanliness and happy guests go hand-in-hand. When guests spend their hard-earned money on dining out, they want--and deserve—a total experience. This means outstanding service, stellar food, and a great atmosphere. Cleaning has an impact on whether you meet customer expectations on each of those three points.

In fact, as a restaurant manager, it also should be your sincere desire to meet or exceed those expectations. For if you please a first-time customer by delivering a delightful experience, you will have a repeat guest. This will help you increase revenue, gain brand awareness through their social media raves, and continue to grow your business.

However, a disappointed guest will have the exact opposite effect on your business. He will leave your restaurant never to return again, taking all the cash in his wallet along with him. Worse yet, he might leave a poor review on your social media channels or Google reviews.

Together, let’s take look at how your restaurant cleanliness can improve the guest experience in your establishment. I have included two colorful infographics that you share with your staff as a visual reminder of the importance of their roles in the customer experience process.

Front of restaurant Cleanliness

Because front of restaurant cleanliness creates a first impression on your diners, we are starting here.

When a guest enters the lobby of your restaurant, what impression do you make on him / her? Is he/she greeted with a friendly smile? Is the floor clean? Does the front desk have a tidy appearance? If you can answer all three of these with a “Yes,” you have met his expectations about great service and atmosphere.

However, the customer experience doesn’t stop there. You must continue to deliver those positive vibes as your guest is seated at his/her table. He/she will have a few basic expectations such as a clean chair and table, a menu presented to him/her, and spotless cutlery.

Even if you have satisfied all those requirements, you’re not quite out of the woods just yet. While your customer waits for his /he food, the will take in the surroundings. Does he/she see cobwebs hanging from pendant lights over his table? Are the carpets stained?

Now you see, we are getting into finer details that underscore the importance of a clean restaurant. Your staff makes time every day to wipe down the menus, so they don’t feel sticky, roll cutlery to present it in a clean way, and vacuum the carpets. Those are wonderful things that should be done as part of your “Daily Cleaning” checklist.

Where do this front of house cleaning failures occur? In those less frequently needed cleans, the “deep cleans,” if you will.

When you walk past dusty picture frames or corners filled with cobwebs every day, it becomes part of the routine to ignore it. Even if a staff member notices it, she may not clean it. Why? Because it’s not on the daily cleaning checklist.

Of course, the truth is that everybody in a restaurant from the General Manager to the dishwasher to the server is responsible for cleanliness. Contrary to what your staff might feel, cleanliness is an often overlooked key to customer service.

This misconception, and the resulting filth that can build up, can be handled by hiring a professional restaurant cleaning service to come in and deep clean each month. Then, you can make your staff accountable for keeping up cleanliness by tackling those daily checklist items and wiping dust away each week.

Only then can your restaurant fully satisfy the customer expectation of both great atmosphere plus customer service.

restaurant cleaning infogram
restaurant cleaning infogram

Back of House Cleanliness

In the back of house, cleanliness is critical. While a customer might not notice those creepy cobwebs hanging from the plants in the front, they will definitely notice a bout of food poisoning!

Your back of house delivers the customer desire of outstanding food as well as assists the front of house with continuing to deliver exceptional customer service and atmosphere. That’s right, even though your back of house might never step foot out front, they have a huge impact on the customer experience.

If food is not delicious or a meat cooked to the correct temperature, it will come back. That’s part of customer service. Or, if there’s a stray hair on a bite of food, it will be sent back. All part of the experience.

But cleanliness goes further than the food on the plate. Are the food prep areas sanitary? Has anyone cleaned the ice machine or drink nozzles? Are cooking utensils free of bacteria? Is the fryer clean and filled with clean oil?

All of these factors play a vital role in food safety, the most important part of your restaurant cleaning. If these items are not completed, customers can get sick. Let’s be clear. Not all customers will get sick from these infractions. Some can get sick. And, I think you will agree, if even one customer becomes ill as a result at dining in your restaurant, that is too many!

Like the front of house, your back of house staff should have a “Daily Checklist” of cleaning responsibilities. When they fail to complete them, you have problems looming. Worse yet, they will tell you quickly that their daily workload of cleaning, food prep, and cooking prohibits them from taking on those larger cleaning jobs. And, it might be true that they have a heavy workload.

That, however, doesn’t keep guests from getting food poisoning.

Your solution to this problem is to hire a commercial restaurant cleaning company to come in once every month to handle the heavier sanitizing and cleaning jobs while making your staff accountable for daily and weekly checklist items. Professional restaurant cleaners have the equipment, tools, and know-how to keep your guests safe.


The Takeaway

Restaurant cleanliness hugely impacts customer perception. You cannot exceed customer expectations on service, food quality, and atmosphere in a dirty environment. A culture of cleanliness must be ingrained in your staff. They must get on board and help you maintain these standards. Supplement daily cleaning by hiring restaurant cleaners who can handle the large scope of work at hand. Without the proper cleaning measures, your customers won’t be returning anytime soon.

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