Good restaurant cleaning is vital for the best first impression. Obviously, no one is lining up to eat at visibly dirty restaurant. But it's those subtle things, trash in the parking lot, grease tracked out to the sidewalk, dirty tabletops and sticky soda machine areas, that color people's perceptions too. And don't forget the restrooms. Even the finest meal will not sit well if these areas don't sparkle.
Follow these restaurant cleaning tips for the best first impressions.
What's on the Menu: The State of Restaurants Today
The National Restaurant Association estimates that there are over 1 million restaurant locations in the US. That's good because we Americans continue to eat out a lot. About 18.2 meals a month are eaten outside the home according to The Simple Dollar. CNBC reports that we spend about $3008 per household a year on those outside meals.
With all of that choice and all of those dollars at stake, presenting your restaurant in the best light will set your establishment apart.
First Contact: The Parking Lot and Storefront
The dining out experience begins in the parking lot. A lot littered with garbage, food spills, cigarette butts and empty food bags does not speak well for the experience inside. Instruct staff to start their shift with visual sweep of the lot. Collect and dispose of large trash items and hose down food spills. Install a few garbage cans to encourage proper disposal of trash. If you already have garbage cans, make sure they are emptied regularly.
If grease is being tracked out to the sidewalk you probably need to take a hard look at your interior cleaning protocol. Greasy floors are not only unsightly, they create a slip-and-fall hazard for guests and staff. Stop grease where it starts, on the kitchen floors by the grills and fryers, and don't spread it around by using a bucket and mop.
Don't forget the rest of your storefront. Shine windows daily, remove greasy fingerprints from door handles and vacuum walk off mats.
The Inside Track: Cleaning Table and Drink Areas
Fast causal restaurants, where patrons order at a counter and go to a table, continue to grow and mature into a $47 billion market. Diners like the reasonable prices, higher-quality food and comfortable vibe. What they don't like is tables littered with the last diners' trash and sticky messes.
Part of the problem is what sets fast casual apart from other restaurants: no wait staff. Without an employee visiting the table it can be hard to keep track of messes that need attention. The same can be said of fast food establishments.
Train staff to keep an eye out for trash under tables and around garbage cans.
Also tell them to ditch rags when cleaning table and counter tops. Even advanced microfiber cloths spread dirt and germs around. Unsurprisingly, the more they are used the dirtier they become. Studies show that the last surface cleaned with a cloth or rag has two to eight times more soil than the first surface cleaned.
Choose better technology, like Kaivac's KaiFly system instead. This microfiber, window squeegee and chemical injection hybrid rapidly removes dirt, germs and bacteria from table and counter tops with minimized risk of cross-contamination.
Ergonomically designed, the system lets staff clean quickly and with less strain on their shoulders and back. KaiFly also leaves surfaces completely dry so diners can sit right down and start eating.
Floors around the drink machine are other potentially sticky problems. Place a walk off matt directly in front to catch spills. Pick up big messes with an Dispense-and-Vac system that cleans and dries in one motion.
Restrooms: The Last First Impression
Restroom cleanliness can make or break your establishment's reputation. Polls show that four out of five people would avoid a restaurant with a dirty restroom and 50% will share their opinions with friends. Add social media into the mix and your dirty restroom becomes an even bigger problem.
Follow these steps to keep restrooms clean throughout a busy day.
- Pick up trash, paper towels and litter
- Keep supplies like toilet paper, soap and towels well stocked
- Take care of spills, clogged toilets and accidents immediately
Deep clean your restrooms every night, but not with mops, buckets or rags. This outdated technology doesn't remove dirt and soils as much as spread them around. Choose a Spray-and-Vac system instead. This technology cleans faster and more completely than mops and rags with minimal cross contamination.
Spray-and-Vac cleaning also allows workers to focus on touchpoints like sink taps, door pulls and flushers without actually having to touch them. Simply spray cleaning solution, let it dwell, rinse in high pressure with fresh water and vacuum it up. The space is left clean, dry and ready to use.
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.