To a customer, a restaurant can never be too clean. Cannon says, "The only thing a customer notices is ‘not clean enough’. That's right, you are either acceptable or unacceptable. If you don't know how important cleanliness is, ask your customers. I dare you. They will probably look at you like you have lost your mind. Your restaurant is a place people come to eat, so cleanliness is very important."
Things to keep clean include: the lot, landscaping, exterior, door glasses and entrance area, floors, tables, chairs, menu boards, menus, restrooms, and eating and drinking utensils.
Every restaurant needs to have "clean freaks" who just can't stand it if the place is dirty or disorganized. "If that's not you," advises Cannon, "hire a ‘clean freak’ to make sure the place is clean. If you don't let messes pile up, then messes won't pile up. Use the clean as you go rule. When you see something dirty, clean it."
Keep in mind that having a wonderfully clean restaurant does not drive sales growth or guarantee success - although it doesn't hurt. But having a restaurant that is not clean and, therefore, unacceptable definitely drives away sales.
Howard Cannon is a highly-recognized restaurant expert witness, consultant, analyst, and speaker. He is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Restaurant© - found in 76 countries around the globe. Mr. Cannon is the CEO of Restaurant Consultants of America and Restaurant Expert Witness, and can be reached at 800-300-5764 or via the web at RestaurantConsultantsOfAmerica.com or RestaurantExpertWitness.com.