The Hidden Message of a Dirty Restaurant Bathroom

An unclean restroom may reflect a dirty kitchen

Hidden Message of a Dirty Restaurant Bathroom

Marcus Lemonis of CNBC’s show The Profit has really made his mark on the business world. He has an impressive record of turning over 100 struggling companies around. And as CEO of the multi-billion dollar company, Camping World, it’s pretty safe to say he knows a thing or two about making a good first impression and keeping customers.

On a recent episode (Standard Burger, Season 3 Episode 304) he visited a failing restaurant in Staten Island. Within minutes of meeting the four owners Marcus asked one of them, “What’s the first place you look if you’re going to eat at restaurant?” His reply?

The bathroom.

Off they went to inspect. The floor and toilet were filthy. There was dirt and grime everywhere.  The owner mentioned he “had them scrub it down the other night,” most likely referring to his staff.

Studies have shown that 79% of people will avoid a restaurant if the bathroom was dirty.  It’s no surprise the owners in this show were struggling to bring in and retain customers. Besides being just plain gross, a dirty restaurant bathroom can leave an unfavorable impression on patrons. It can imply poor management, show a lack of attention to detail and potentially indicate even lower cleaning standards in other areas of the restaurant. In the U.S., 86% of people associate restroom cleanliness with kitchen cleanliness.

Howard Cannon, CEO of Restaurant Expert Witness and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Restaurant, agrees that for a clear sign of a restaurant’s sanitation standards, just step into the restroom. “Reality is when the bathroom is filthy and every customer can see, just imagine how dirty the kitchen is where the customer can’t see.” He goes on to say, “pay special attention to the women’s room especially. Take note if the garbage cans are full to overflowing, if the sinks are dirty or the restroom smells. If so, you can count on the kitchen being dirty, too.”

For the restaurant on The Profit, that was most definitely the case. The whole kitchen was dirty, cleaning chemicals, along with a pile of soiled rags, were stored on a low shelf, and a dingy mop bucket filled with filthy water was in the corner. Worth noting is that even if a restaurant’s kitchen is sparkling clean in every nook and cranny, customers don’t see the kitchen and will form an opinion based upon what they see in the restrooms.

If you own a restaurant you can read more about how the cleanliness of your restroom affects your customer’s impression of your business or get started on improving your facility’s cleanliness with a free quote from Coverall.

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