Bad restaurant review

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NEW YORK — The number one deal breaker when it comes to eating out isn’t expensive prices or rude wait staff — it’s cleanliness, according to a new survey. The poll of 1,000 American consumers and 1,000 small business owners and hospitality workers finds that when it comes to restaurants, cleanliness (44%) ranks higher in importance than having a variety of menu options (35%) or the affordability of the restaurant (33%).

The survey also looked at how cleanliness plays a role in the decision to visit a business and how businesses handle cleaning. When dining, customers say they are always keeping their eyes out for cleanliness — or lack thereof. They’re surveying the tables (56%), plates/bowls (56%), and cutlery (49%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of P&G Professional, the survey finds that Americans value tidiness so much that three in five say that uncleanliness would be a deal breaker when it comes to both restaurants (61%) and hotels (62%).

Respondents also rank cleanliness as the top factor they consider when choosing somewhere to stay for vacation (39%). Lack of cleanliness is also the top reason that respondents wouldn’t return to a business, followed by quality concerns (38%) and poor customer service (35%).

More than half of those surveyed would become repeat customers if a business was always clean (52%) — more so than if it offered discounts or perks (42%) or was within walking distance (31%).

Woman laying in hotel room bed
A new poll reveals most Americans check out bed linens, bathrooms, and floors when entering a vacation rental. (Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels)

To ensure they’re making the right decisions, most Americans “always” or “often” research reviews of restaurants (64%) or vacation rentals (62%) before choosing “the one.”

At vacation rentals, respondents scope out the bathroom or shower (55%), linen/sheets (49%), and flooring (48%) the most. Overall, 64 percent of Americans have a great appreciation for businesses that keep their establishments clean, and those in the industry are aware of this.

“Keeping restaurants and hotels clean is the obvious choice for business owners,” says spokesperson Dr. Juan Goncalves, leader of scientific communications for P&G Professional in North America, in a statement. “Patrons value cleanliness when it comes to deciding what businesses they support. So cleaning is not just a chore. It’s a competitive advantage.”

Small business owners recognize that cleanliness is important to visitors, which is why they spend an average of 167 hours a year just cleaning their establishments. Similarly, more than half of hospitality workers note cleaning as their most time-consuming task (53%).

While helping customers (44%) and cleaning (41%) are the most time-consuming parts of their job, professionals have an affinity for the former. Meeting new people (44%) and helping customers (40%) rank among the top three favorite things about small business owners’ and hospitality workers’ jobs.

It’s a good thing they enjoy caring for their customers since the average worker in these professions spends about half their day doing so. In fact, they would like it if they had even more time in their day doing what they love — interacting with customers (37%).

Fifty-six percent wish they could get some of the time spent cleaning back on their side and find inspiration for time-saving cleaning tricks on social media (46%) and from others in their industry (43%).

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 1,000 general population Americans, 500 small business owners and 500 hospitality workers was commissioned by P&G Professional between Nov. 8 and Nov. 14, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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