Even if you’re not a neat freak in your daily life at home, it’s essential to be obsessive about cleanliness when it comes to running a business.
For one thing, first impressions make a big impact on customers: According to a recent Technomic survey of restaurant diners, cleanliness of dishware and utensils was the number one priority for 93 percent of customers. The restaurants ranked in the top quartile for cleanliness saw 4 percent sales growth over the time measured in the survey, while those in the bottom quartile saw just 0.2 growth over the same time period. If customers are disgusted by dirty dishes or overall unsanitary conditions during their first visit, they’re not likely to return to give your establishment a second chance.
When it comes to food preparation businesses, good hygiene is also essential for surviving restaurant inspections. Failing an inspection could result in a fine or even a temporary (or permanent) closure, as well as bad publicity that’s likely to discourage new diners from visiting your establishment.
Here are a few strategies for keeping things clean:
Focus on the floors. According to CDI research, 42 percent of people look at the floors first when judging the cleanliness of a business. Make sure to place heavy-duty mats to collect dirt at the door, and regularly spot-check any messes throughout the business day. A thorough sweep and mop should be done at the close of business.
Maintain the restrooms throughout the day. If you don’t keep an eye on the bathrooms, one messy patron could ruin the experience at your store for everyone else. Check in regularly to ensure that toilets, sinks, and floors are clean, and that the bathrooms have an adequate supply of toilet paper, soap, and paper towels.
Keep the kitchen spotless at all times. If you run a food business, keeping a clean kitchen should be common sense, but you may also need to implement some policies to ensure that your employees follow your guidelines. Make sure to draw up daily checklists for all employees to follow, purchase disinfectant and other cleaning supplies, and come up with a schedule for cleaning out all equipment on a regular basis.
If you can, place an employee on permanent “clean-up” duty. It’s important to clean up any customer messes as soon as they happen — or as soon after as possible. Depending on the size of your shop or restaurant, you may want to delegate one employee to spot-cleaning areas where customers go, such as wiping down tables, examining store aisles for trash, and sweeping dirt from the floors. If you don’t have the resources to devote to this task, set up a regular schedule so that each employee knows what his responsibilities are, and how frequently he should clean each area of the store.