Ken Burgin

Yuk Factor – Simple Things That Customers Dislike (and don’t tell you about)

We get busy, or need to cut expenses, and it doesn’t take long before shortcuts start with cleaning, maintenance, repairs and service.

Here’s a bunch of familiar items – we’ve all done it, but please find a better way. Most customers don’t complain, they just stop visiting… and tell their friends – these are the opposite of Quality Signals. PRINT and share with your team – they will find more!

  • Sticky things – unwiped tables, unclean carpet, underneath the edge of tables.
  • Wet things – the table that was wiped, but with a wet cloth. The floor or seat of the toilet – they need an immediate fix.
  • The walk to the toilet – is it clean, tidy and ‘neutral’ all the way?
  • Strange smells – in the toilet, cleaning fluid, bleach and more.
  • Dead or dying plants – I’ve always seen this as a strong indicator of a failing business.
  • Grubby kitchen clothes – chef jackets, pants and aprons that aren’t freshly laundered. It’s a time-consuming process, but less than sparkling sends a negative message. And why doesn’t the kitchenhand deserve better than  street clothes?
  • Worn aprons, especially on front of house staff, plus that awful chux in the back pocket for a quick table wipe.
  • Crazy piercings, hair and tattoos – OK, I’m out on a limb here, but our job is not to compete with customers. If you’re in an edgy neighbourhoood, maybe, but if your regular customers would feel confronted, it will turn people away… and should stop.
  • Grubby view of the kitchen – if it’s open, or visible at any time, the shelves have to be tidy, pots scrubbed top to bottom, and please don’t show yellow buckets of chicken booster!
  • Things on the floor – behind the bar or visible on the kitchen floor. Boxes, pots, trays, food cooling.
  • Crap on shelves and counters – staff cigarettes, a glass of old pens, docket books and things that should be in a drawer. Walk around to the customer side and have a look…
  • Staff clearing dirty glasses with their fingers in the rim – touching people’s spit!
  • Stack-and-clear for plates, aka the ‘nanna stack’. Clear professionally so dirty plates are lifted out of the customer view.
  • Fluorescent light tubes visible – in the kitchen or a bar fridge. Surprising how often a great design is sabotaged by careless lighting.
  • Cleaning materials – the mop bucket (usually grubby) and dirty rags.
  • Excess stock – in the corner there’s the big delivery of mineral water you don’t have room for.
  • Broken furniture – rocky tables and rickety chairs. These items get very heavy use, so invest in strong commercial versions or replace every year. IKEA is not a solution 😉
  • Dirty chair legs – they’re kicked all day, and quickly get scuffed and marked.
  • Dirty bins – why are they always so filthy on the outside? Need a weekly scrub.

Italians sometimes call these small, unpleasant items colpo d’occhio – something that hits you in the eye. It’s time to walk around with someone who doesn’t work in the business and see what you find!

2 thoughts on “Yuk Factor – Simple Things That Customers Dislike (and don’t tell you about)”

  1. Completely agree with every one of these points. Might add: Staff using mobile phones/texting. I understand that some venues use tablets as a mobile POS but staff shouldn’t be sneaking a look at the phone anywhere within site of a customer.

    1. Thanks Mike – staff on mobiles is really the pits! Somehow they seem to appear no matter how many rules there are, especially if they’re quiet. Have you found an effective way to keep them out of sight?

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