Well the most obvious answers would probably be: by the food, service, or ambiance. These of course are the main facets of the business but what about the toilets? Have you ever been in a restaurant where the food was great, the service impeccable, the ambiance exceptional, and then you use the toilet and it’s absolutely dreadful? Will you ever go back to that restaurant again?
All restaurant owners would go for the things that most appeal to their customers. Extreme measures, such as hiring an expensive powerhouse culinary team, hiring the best interior decorators in town, and buying the most expensive furniture and tableware are common to all restaurants. There are even restaurants that hire ONLY very attractive waitresses (pretty face, long legs, etc.).
But some restaurants forget the “little,” not-immediately-apparent things like maintaining the toilet. They ignore the reality that clean toilets not only increase customer satisfaction but also improve employee morale.
Restaurateurs sometimes take for granted that the toilets are part of the overall restaurant service. Of course if your store is in a mall or within a larger establishment, as a tenant, mall toilets would be beyond your responsibility. But if your restaurant is an independent structure, then the toilet would be within your scope of operations. The manner in which a restaurant treats details such as toilets is a telltale sign of how much respect they have for their staff and customers.
Satisfied Employees Satisfy Customers
There was a recent study released by Cintas Corp. that showed 95% of customers would not return to a restaurant if they had a bad experience with the toilet facilities. Although the research was done by a private corporation and did not take into consideration the Asian mindset, the trend in the global restaurant industry is slowly going in that direction.
Many, many years back, Wayne was part of a team that consulted on the construction and start up of a restaurant. The restaurant had a seating capacity of around 80 and some 40 people on staff. It had three toilets for guests and one employee bathroom. The consulting team gave recommendations on bathroom construction and maintenance but, of course, the final decision was still management’s call.
After construction was completed, the bathroom for employees was barely functional and was just large enough for the person using it to enter, turn around, do his business, and walk out the door. To use the sink you had to leave the door open!
The two bathrooms in the main dining area were almost just as small. The third bathroom was more spacious since it was the one the owners would use while in the store. So, all in all, the restaurant had four bathrooms, with only one being decently built and maintained.
The employees eventually started feeling neglected with the bathroom issue being among the complaints. When the issue was not resolved, employees began bad-mouthing the restaurant and neglecting their duties. Patrons started giving bad feedback on the restaurant to their friends. The restaurant owners reacted by several facelifts in the menu and the ambiance. But the restaurant did not survive.
Good Manufacturing Practices (or GMPs) have very specific standards on the construction and maintenance of bathrooms. While GMPs were created for the manufacturing industry, there are standards that are also applicable to the food service industry. The standards make sense since they are designed to: Lower maintenance costs; Maximize overall safety and sanitation; Increase employee morale (in the case of restaurants, also customer satisfaction).
Note the following basic guidelines your designers can build upon:
1.Keep EVERYTHING smooth, light in color, and easy to clean and sanitize
2.Keep consumables well stocked
3.Make sure the water is clean
4.Keep everything clean at all times
5.Assign staff to regularly check and clean toilets
Bad Toilet = Bad Operations
A bad toilet is a very clear indication of how bad the restaurant’s back-end (the part not seen by customers) operations are. If this small detail is neglected, how many more small details are neglected in the back-end?
Seriously, if the bathroom is already that bad AND they show it to you, the customer, how much worse are those things that they DON’T show you?