Effective customer retention depends upon a number of factors, but for any type of brick-and-mortar business, cleanliness is one of the important components.

How to Achieve Customer Retention with a Clean Place of Business

Customer Experience Cleanliness

Effective customer retention depends heavily on the cleanliness of your business. Here are some tips and considerations to keep in mind.

Effective customer retention depends upon a number of factors, but for any type of brick-and-mortar business, cleanliness is one of the important components. Consciously or subconsciously, customers take note of how clean a business is ā€” whether you’re running a hotel, restaurant or a body shop ā€” and this influences their decision about whether or not to come back. Businesses that actively pursue a comprehensive cleaning strategy will earn dedicated customers who reward the effort with word-of-mouth recommendations to friends and family, as well as favorable online reviews. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your business clean.

Take a 360-degree View

If you’re serious about pursuing a customer-retention strategy based on cleanliness, start by taking a 360-degree view of your place of business. A patron’s first impression of your business starts in the parking lot and at your facility’s front door, so make sure these areas are always kept clean. For example, a glass front door should be kept free of customer fingerprints. As you continue to look over your place of business, pay attention to the small details, such as making sure all lightbulbs are replaced and that every customer-facing area is free of clutter. Stacks of boxes or materials aren’t necessarily “dirty,” but they convey an atmosphere of disorder, which only causes customers to question your business’s overall attention to detail.

Keep in mind that restaurants are especially susceptible to negative impressions. If a patron notices dirt or dust anywhere in the facility, they may wonder if other areas, such as the kitchen, are also dirty. If this happens, a wonderfully prepared meal served by an attentive waiter won’t eliminate suspicions about dirty utensils or undesirable hygiene policies behind the kitchen’s closed doors.

Prioritize the Cleanliness of Restrooms

In one broad-based survey, 95 percent of consumers surveyed said they would avoid an establishment in the future if they found the restroom to be dirty. Even if a customer enjoys the product or service they purchased, a dirty workplace will make them reluctant to come back if other purchasing options exist.

Canadian Restaurant and Foodservice News recently convened a panel of professionals to discuss the value of “restaurant maintenance and its effect on an operator’s financial bottom line.” The panelists uniformly agreed on the importance of keeping restrooms clean. Suzanne Cohen, marketing director-foodservice at SCA Americas, suggests touch-free dispensers or other “high-capacity controlled dispensing systems” that enhance cleanliness while keeping usage and costs to a minimum. Such systems might include sensor-activated soap and paper towel dispensers.

Panelist Leslie Molin, senior marketing manager at Cintas Canada Ltd., points to remembering to clean “commonly overlooked areas,” such as behind toilets and in restroom corners, even if they’re difficult to reach. “It’s important to deep clean restrooms on a routine basis to limit the growth of potentially harmful substances, such as bacteria and mold, and to remove stubborn buildup,” she says. Molin also suggests implementing a “zone-cleaning strategy” by color-coding mops and wipes for specific spaces and placing a garbage can near the restroom door. This way, customers can use a paper towel to open a restroom door and easily dispose of it on their way out, avoiding potential contamination to their hands.

Whether it’s a bathroom, conference room, dining table or register area, you can increase customer retention by paying close attention to cleanliness. Not only is this good for your business, but it sends the implicit message that you respect the people who purchase your product and are committed to making their buying experiences as pleasant as possible.

Lee Polevoi
Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer who specializes in the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses in the U.S.A former senior writer at Vistage International (a global membership organization of CEOs), Lee regularly contributes articles, white papers and blog posts to a variety of small business websites, including Paychex, Intuit Small Business, ADP, Hewlett Packard'sā„¢ The Pulse of IT, Catapult Groups, Avalara TrustFile and many others.