Why cleanliness is key to a successful restaurant

Building a successful a restaurant boils down to a number of key ingredients. Of course, the food needs to be up to scratch, and you need to create value for your customers, but successful restaurant ownership also relies on fundamental processes that go on behind the scenes. 

One of those key processes, and probably the most important one of all, is the cleaning and hygiene standards you hold your business to every single day. The cleanliness of your restaurant can quite literally make or break your business. Here’s why keeping your restaurant to the highest hygiene standards matters. 

First impressions count 

If you’ve ever sat down to a slightly sticky or wet table on arrival at a restaurant, you’ll know how off putting it can be and how badly it can set the tone for your visit straight off the bat. In virtually all customer facing businesses, first impressions count, but in a restaurant – where customers are about to eat – they couldn’t matter more. 

Whether it’s a clean table to sit down to, a well-presented shop front or making sure the snippet of the kitchen your customers see every time the door swings open is absolutely spotless, creating a first impression of cleanliness and hygiene is essential to getting customers through the door, and getting them to come back again. 

A more important factor than customer service 

For a good few years now, it’s been established that high hygiene standards matter more to customers than customer service reviews when it comes to choosing a place to eat. A study in 2016 found that the 1-5 scored Food Standards Agency (FSA) hygiene ratings commonly found in restaurant and takeaway windows have more sway on a potential diner’s choice of eatery than any suggestion of particularly good or bad customer service. 

This might be partially down to the objectivity of FSA standards against the subjectivity of most customer service reviews, but it also shows where diners’ priorities lie when it comes to choosing a place to eat. In essence, your restaurant could serve the tastiest food with the biggest smile, but that can all be for nought if it’s not delivered in a clean and inviting environment. 

Ethics and legalities 

Beyond questions of customer impressions, restaurant ambience and largely aesthetic concerns, there are also huge regulatory factors to consider when thinking about hygiene within your restaurant. Good presentation, quality food and great service certainly don’t matter if your establishment isn’t open to provide them, and if your hygiene standards aren’t up to scratch, the FSA is well within its rights to shut your operation down until things have improved. 

Maintaining a clean kitchen, dining area and all other restaurant facilities should be a principle based on multiple motivations, not least avoiding the ethical and legal questions that would come with running a substandard business in cleanliness terms. Even if you’re solely thinking from a financial perspective, meeting hygiene specifications are paramount to reaching your goals. 

If you want to enjoy the perks of running a successful restaurant, you have to be prepared to deal with the less glamorous elements of the industry. That means regularly spending time in the cleaning closet and making good use of your brooms, mops and other cleaning products to ensure your restaurant standards are as high off the plate as they are on it.