In the hospitality industry, impressions are everything. The famous expression, ‘first impressions are lasting impressions’ is probably more applicable to the restaurant industry than most. With the rise of the Internet, the way customers interact with restaurants has completely changed. Today, when a customer walks through the door they may already have an impression in their head built upon your companies Facebook albums, TripAdvisor reviews and Instagram hashtags!
It isn’t surprising then how a bad first impression of a business’s restroom can seriously disappoint and permanently damage a customer’s perception. For many people, a bad experience in a restaurant bathroom can make them vow to never return. There have been several studies investigating this claim, a couple of which are detailed below.
A study on behalf of Clorox Professional Products Company surveyed 1,005 adults on their experiences with restaurant bathrooms. They found that;
- 69% of surveyed adults would refuse to visit restaurants and bars with unclean bathrooms
- 39% stated that they had previously left a restaurant due to the restroom smelling like urine
- 55% of adults stated they would leave a negative review on a business based on their perception of the restroom
A study conducted by Harris Interactive on 1,000 adults found similar results with 79% would avoid a restaurant if they found the bathroom to be unclean.
Here are some top tips on keeping a sparkling clean bathroom that will leave a dazzling first impression on your customers . . .
- Regularly clean and inspect. Toilets should be thoroughly cleaned in the morning, afternoon and evening. In between these deep cleans, staff should regularly check the toilets to re-stock toilet paper and re-fill the soap dispensers. A study by Cintas found that “more than 84 percent of respondents identified empty toilet paper dispensers as a source of dissatisfaction, and more than 76 percent of respondents were dissatisfied if the soap dispensers were empty.”
- Take your time. Many staff members rush cleaning as they have other jobs to get on to. However, high-touch areas in a bathroom need disinfecting properly, which can mean leaving the disinfectant to sit for up to 10 minutes for it to actually kill germs and bacteria. A good way to get around this wait is to spray all your areas for disinfecting first and while it sits there is time to perform other tasks such as re-filling dispensers and toilet rolls.
- View your restroom as a customer would. You may think your bathroom is top notch but a customer could have a different view. Cintas found that there were several differences in the perceptions of cleanliness between the bathroom users, cleaners and owners. Try and take a step back and see how your customer would see. Take extra care when cleaning, look out for especially grimy areas that may be harder to spot.
- Get rid of that bad smell! Mopping is an important part of cleaning and if not done correctly can leave awful smells that leave an even more awful impression on your customer. A double mop bucket is perfect, meaning you can rinse into one side and not worry about contaminating your clean detergent on the other. How you store your mop is also important, as if left damp and unclean the mop head is a breeding ground for bacteria. Rinse it out and soak in a mixture of water and bleach for 15 minutes before rinsing until clear. Always make sure the mop head is completely dry before using it again to avoid bacteria and that bad damp smell. If it starts to smell, replace it, as it will do nothing but contaminate your floor and create a lasting impression you don’t want!
There are many reasons to make a conscious effort to improve your bathroom. Not only is it important to keep a strict level of hygiene, having a clean tidy bathroom can also impact on other parts of your business too. By making improvements you can have a positive impact on your reviews, creating great first impressions both online and offline. Also, remember that proper cleaning saves time! Performing deep cleans at appropriate times of the day saves the time of your waiting staff who have to deal with issues about toilets throughout service. Whilst service staff can help to maintain re-fills and spot clean, consider using a professional who understands the needs of your customers and cleans to an exceptional standard. This way you can reduce the likelihood of your waiting staff having to spend periods of time re-cleaning the restrooms, and guarantee they get to focus their attention on your customers, making good long-lasting impressions.