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Clean Tableware Can Produce Higher Same-Store Sales

Would it surprise you to learn that restaurant consumers rank “Friendly Service” as very important in determining where to go eat? Would it further surprise you to find that they rank “Tableware Cleanliness” even higher?

In a recent Technomic Inc survey of 8,000 restaurant consumers “Tableware Cleanliness” was ranked as the most important attribute (out of 50) in determining where to go to eat.

Tableware cleanliness tied for most important with “Food Taste” and was ranked ahead of attributes such as “Friendly Service.”

Bob Goldin, executive vice president for Technomic, noted, “Across the board, cleanliness attributes receive very high importance ratings. Tableware, restaurant interior, kitchen/prep area and bathroom cleanliness are the most important unit appearance and ambiance attributes, and a number of chains fail to meet consumer expectations in this area. Given the importance of these attributes, especially clean tableware, it is imperative for restaurant chains to focus intensely on providing a clean environment for their customers.”

“We always look for ways to help restaurant owners and managers deliver a clean and safe experience for their guests,” said Nicolas Granucci, vice president of Foodservice Marketing for Ecolab. “The Technomic findings confirm how important this is, particularly as the restaurant industry is poised for growth and restaurants are competing strongly for guest traffic.”

A recent report on restaurant same-store sales published by Bellwether Food Group Inc. suggests a strong relationship between tableware cleanliness and top-line performance. The “Quarterly Chain Restaurant Update” from December 9, 2010, provided same-store sales estimates for 24 full service chains. Fourteen of these chains were also profiled in the Technomic study. Both studies covered the same period of time – the third quarter of 2010.

When the 14 chains in the Technomic study are ranked in order, according to consumer satisfaction scores for tableware cleanliness, a clear correlation in same-store sales performance is evident.

The three chains with the lowest satisfaction scores had an average same-store sales decline of 1.1 percent in the third quarter. In contrast, the three chains with the highest tableware cleanliness satisfaction scores had an average same-store sales growth almost 4 percent higher, coming in at 2.6 percent.

The clear correlation is not limited to the comparison between the top three and bottom three chains in the Technomic study. When dividing the chains into the top half and bottom half according the tableware cleanliness satisfaction the correlation holds with the top half averaging same-store sales growth of 2.4 percent and the bottom half averaging a .1 percent sales decline.

Looking deeper at what differentiates the top tableware cleanliness performers, an analysis of their cleaning and sanitation programs show that…

99 percent of the restaurants Ecolab works with across the top performers use an Ecolab advanced solid machine detergent and 88 percent use an advanced rinse additive.

In comparison, 48 percent of the restaurants in the bottom of the Technomic study use an advanced solid machine detergent and 34 percent use an advanced rinse additive.

Additionally 92 percent of restaurants within the top performers use silverware presoak, compared with 31 percent of restaurants in the bottom.

Granucci commented on the data, “There are many factors that go into getting tableware clean. Of definite importance is the fact that a restaurant consistently uses silverware presoak, a solid machine detergent and a rinse additive. As our chemists will tell you, all three products are needed in appropriate combinations to produce optimal results.”

“We always invest the time and resources to be sure we can continually provide our customers with the cutting edge warewashing technology that allows them to best please their customers,” Granucci added. “Apex is our latest innovation and those customers taking advantage of this innovation are rated much higher by their guests.”

Apex is Ecolab’s latest innovation in advanced solid cleaning technology. To hear chefs, restaurant managers, and owners discuss the benefits of Apex, or to learn more about the Technomic research visit www.whycleanmatters.com.