Running a profitable restaurant can be a challenge for a multitude of reasons. During a global pandemic, this can seem almost impossible. With rising food prices and labor shortages forcing foodservice establishments to raise wages, profit margins are tighter than ever. Thus, maintaining a loyal clientele is paramount.
While restaurants are used to prioritizing cleanliness to maintain food safety, emerging infectious disease threats make cleanliness even more important for maintaining public health as well as diner confidence. Fortunately, there are strategies managers and employees can follow to help keep restaurants safe and welcoming.
Restaurant cleaning tips that take the cake
Visibly clean restaurants demonstrate a commitment to safety and make these environments more welcoming to customers. Meanwhile, poorly maintained frontage areas can hurt a restaurant’s reputation and bottom line. In fact, a 2021 Harris Poll found that 74% of Americans say a dirty restroom would give them a negative perception of a business.
Since a small lack of cleanliness can have a domino effect on a business, it’s important to consider facility maintenance best practices that promote guest satisfaction. These include:
1. Establish a cleaning checklist
A September 2021 National Restaurant Association survey found that nearly 80% of restaurants are understaffed. Therefore, it is crucial that your employees clearly understand cleaning expectations and protocols. A great way to start is to make a cleaning checklist and figure out when certain areas are likely to need cleaning and sanitizing. As 90% of consumers focus more on cleaning, make sure your restaurant’s high-touch areas such as tables, counters, door handles, toilet handles, etc. are cleaned often during business hours.
2. Address the toilet correctly
Restrooms are one of the most germ-prone areas in a restaurant due to their purpose and tendency to get very busy. They can also dictate customer perceptions of overall restaurant cleanliness levels. For these reasons, investing in toilet maintenance is essential. Well-stocked and regularly maintained restrooms allow diners and employees to perform good hand hygiene, which helps reduce the spread of germs throughout the restaurant. An additional reason to focus on your restaurant restroom is that nearly 90% of Americans wouldn’t visit a restaurant with negative reviews online about its restroom. You may also consider implementing a checklist that is visibly displayed when employees are performing restocks and cleanings to ensure customer confidence.
3. Integrate entrance mats
Entrances should make a good first impression, as they are the first place customers gather when they arrive at your restaurant. Placing mats at the entrance not only helps minimize slip and fall conditions, but it also helps prevent the majority of dirt and debris from being tracked into your restaurant. This can reduce the burden of floor maintenance because staff can clean it faster and won’t have to clean the entrance floors as frequently. When selecting mats, be sure to install ones that will lay flat and have scraping abilities to effectively remove dirt from shoes and trap moisture. However, it is not enough to place the mats. Plan to vacuum carpets regularly or have them changed, especially in the winter or during the rainy season. Have wet floor panels easily accessible when needed in the presence of moisture or spills.
4. Check cleaning tools regularly
First, consider choosing high-quality cleaning tools, as lower quality tools are more likely to wear out faster and increase costs. There are even sustainable tools made from recycled materials, such as brushes and broom handles made from reused plastic bottles and mop heads made from textile scraps.
It is also essential for restaurants to regularly maintain cleaning tools and confirm that they are properly stored when not in use. Cleaning your tools helps reduce cross-contamination, and training employees on why and when to use color-coded tools is essential. For example, there should be unique tool sets for the kitchen and toilet. This helps ensure that your employees aren’t spreading germs by using dirty cleaning tools or risking injury to themselves or others.
Communicate your cleaning steps for success
The majority of the dining areas are customer-facing, from the entrance and reception areas to the bar and dining areas to the restrooms. Some restaurants even have open kitchens that allow customers to see the cooking process up close. Therefore, cleanliness should be a priority as it supports food safety and infection prevention. Even posting signs or decals in entrances or windows to communicate that the establishment adheres to best practices can help provide customers with peace of mind when patronizing the business.
Overall, the most important aspect of keeping your restaurant welcoming is staying organized and clearly communicating cleaning measures to your customers and employees. Improving cleanliness and customer confidence will drive customer retention and profits in an increasingly challenging time for the restaurant industry.