Cleanliness in Restaurants: What Do Customers Expect Today?

By Sarah Miller February 1, 2023 Blog, Restaurant
Cleanliness standards in Restaurants

“Quality, service, cleanliness, and value.” – Steve Ross, Time Warner CEO

A recent study has found that customers highly value cleanliness in restaurants and will reward the businesses that they perceive as safest with more of their spending. Released in 2021, Simon-Kucher & Partners’ “The New Normal for Restaurants” reveals that customers are willing to spend twice as much per month at restaurants that meet their standards of cleanliness compared to those that don’t. The study determined that customer restaurant visit criteria have evolved to include sanitation and food preparation. Nearly half of all surveyed consumers reported that they expect a higher degree of cleanliness than before the pandemic. Furthermore, the survey results showed that customers are willing to pay more if they feel confident their health will be protected in the restaurant, with 70% of participants stating that they would visit a restaurant that has improved sanitation standards even if it meant paying higher prices. On average, customers said they would spend twice as much per month at a restaurant if it met their cleanliness standards compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is likely due to an increased sense of safety and assurance provided by a clean and well-maintained environment. Additionally, customers noted that they would be more likely to return to a restaurant again if it meets their standards of cleanliness.

This shift could have a major impact on profits for restaurant owners and managers, as cleanliness is remains critically important to customers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clear that cleanliness has become increasingly important to customers in the post-pandemic era. This is an opportunity for restaurant owners and managers to boost profits, but those who succeed will be those who are best-prepared to take advantage of it.

Five Cleanliness Suggestions for Your Restaurant

  1. Require masks and gloves. Customers want to feel safe when dining out and being able to see that restaurant staff are taking all necessary precautions can help reassure them. One post-pandemic survey found that 86% of customers indicated they were more likely to dine out if they saw restaurant staff wearing masks and gloves.
  2. Be strict about handwashing. All restaurant staff must comply with strict handwashing protocols, which should be accompanied by frequent and visible reminders not only in the restrooms, but also in the kitchen and dining areas. This is critical to food safety and public health.
  3. Sanitize the dining areas. All tables, chairs, menus, condiments, and silverware should be not only cleaned but also sanitized between customers or after any customer has been seated.
  4. Insist on a spotless kitchen. The kitchen area should be kept clean and organized, with all food items stored properly and any spills or debris cleaned up immediately. All surfaces should be routinely wiped down with a sanitizing solution to prevent the spread of germs.
  5. Be sure your restrooms sparkle. Restaurant bathrooms are an integral part of the overall dining experience, and it’s important to for them to be cleaned on a regular schedule in order to maintain customer satisfaction. A dirty bathroom can make customers uncomfortable and dissuade them from returning.

Brand Standards are Key to Restaurant Cleanliness

According to a survey from Zagat, 53% of respondents said that hygiene and sanitation are the top criteria for deciding which restaurants to visit. Establishing clear brand standards – the rules, guidelines and expectations that a business sets for itself, its staff and its operations – is an important step restaurant owners and managers can take to ensure consistency across locations. These help define the overall experience a customer should expect when they visit any of your restaurant.

When it comes to cleanliness, brand standards can be used to help ensure that proper hygiene practices are followed. Implementing these protocols not only helps keep customers safe. It also gives them peace of mind and instills confidence in the restaurant. Having clear brand standards around cleanliness also helps protect business owners from liability risks. If a customer gets sick from food or hygiene-related issues or is injured in a slip and fall accident, showing that your business has clearly defined policies and that they were followed on schedule can help prove that the restaurant was compliant with all safety regulations.

The Best Way to Ensure Brand Standards

There was a time when restaurant owners and managers tracked operations manually. They printed out checklists and attached them to clipboards where employees half-heartedly kept track of their efforts, often falsifying entries. In time, regional managers gathered these “reports” and collated them in binders which were often left on shelves, ignored and dusty. Because they were never analyzed to notice trending issues, they could not be uses as catalysts for change. Those days are gone. Today’s most successful restaurants are using digital checklists like DailyChex by MeazureUp to ensure the consistent adherence to brand standards that builds customer relationships and boosts lifetime value.

A digital checklist system provides numerous benefits for restaurant owners and managers. A digital checklist system allows for increased accountability and visibility into the daily cleaning process. With a digital checklist, actions can be tracked in real time and all stakeholders have access to the same information. Checklists also ensure that tasks are completed according to established standards and provide a centralized location for data collection, making it easier for managers to review cleaning logs and identify problems quickly.

Digital solutions save time by streamlining the daily inspection process, allowing for greater oversight and accountability, and ensuring that tasks are completed accurately. Additionally, they improve communication between staff members with automated notifications when tasks are assigned or need to be reviewed. Finally, a digital checklist system can also provide valuable insights into how well the processes are managed through data analysis and reporting capabilities.

How could implementing a digital checklist system improve cleanliness and grow revenue at your restaurants? Let’s find out together. Schedule your free demo of DailyChex by MeazureUp today.