A recent Cintas Corporation survey conducted by Harris Interactive revealed that dirty dishes, unpleasant odor and dirty restrooms are the top reasons consumers would never return to a restaurant. In fact, all three perceptions of cleanliness rated higher than poor service when choosing whether to return to an establishment.

This survey was conducted by phone within the United States by Harris Interactive from Oct. 28-31, 2010, among 1,008 adults ages 18 and older. When asked what experiences would make adults likely to never eat at a restaurant again, they reported as follows:

  • Unclean Dishware: 86%
  • Unpleasant Odors: 85%
  • Dirty Restrooms: 75%
  • Unclean Tables: 74%
  • Poor Service: 74%
  • Dirty Floors: 68%
  • Poor Staff Appearance: 65%
  • Dirty Glass and Windows: 51%

In addition, the survey discovered that 86 percent of U.S. adults equate the cleanliness of a restaurant's restroom with the cleanliness of its kitchen. Even the most pristine kitchens can be negatively perceived if a restaurant does not have a proper restroom maintenance program in place.

"Consumers have many dining options and it's critical for restaurant owners to provide a pleasant atmosphere to attract and retain patrons," said Brian Garry, senior director of Cintas Foodservice. "This research confirms that maintaining a clean environment is mandatory to provide a satisfying dining experience."

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