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Avoid These 10 Top Restaurant Turnoffs

Don’t serve up these restaurant turnoffs that send guests to your competitors for their next meal.

It’s easy to spend so much time on food quality and marketing that your restaurant neglects other important aspects of the guest experience. It won’t matter how delicious your appetizers, entrees and drinks are if the customer leaves with a bad taste in their mouth due to poor service, an annoying atmosphere or being forced to sit elbow-to-elbow with the next table.

When that happens, the ratings on your restaurant’s online reviews can take a downturn.

“When it comes to food, negative interactions are nearly impossible to forget,” according to The Positively Pizza Blog. “Customers are more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one, so it’s crucial that you know how to stay on their good side.”

Here are The Positively Pizza Blog’s top restaurant turnoffs that apply to any restaurant.

1. Excessively loud music

Unless you’re a bar that also serves food, blasting background music too loudly can ruin the guest experience. Blaring music makes it hard for guests to converse, and even people dining alone can be put off by this distraction that makes it hard to concentrate or enjoy their  meal.

2. Tables crowding personal space

Most people need at least a little bit of space in restaurants. Maybe they don’t want the next table listening while they tell their dining partner about personal matters. Or maybe they just want room to spread out. You may think you can bring in more business with more tables. But crowding people too much won’t bring them back for repeat business.

3. Dirty tables

If you leave dirty dishes on tables too long, your guests will be put off by the unappetizing view. The same goes for tables that were poorly cleaned. Guest don’t want to rest their hand on a sticky surface while reviewing your menu.

4. Overpowering odors

No one wants to take a big bite of their cheeseburger while inhaling the heavy bleach odor from a worker mopping the floor near their table. Nor do they enjoy eating next to an overflowing bus tub with dirty plates and half-eaten food. Pay attention to how and when employees clean to avoid subjecting guests to a meal they won’t forget — for all the wrong reasons.

5. Dirty, poorly stocked restrooms

They say a restaurant is only as clean as its restrooms. Even if that’s not true for your restaurant, people believe it. And even if they’ve never heard that saying before, walking into a filthy restroom is a sure turnoff. And if stalls are out of toilet paper or there aren’t towels for drying hands, that makes the restroom situation even more egregious.

6. Dusty ceiling fans and vents

This one is easy to overlook, but dust, grease and grime build up over time on ceiling tiles, fans and vents. Create a schedule for employees to clean these and other overlooked items regularly to keep everything looking shiny and clean.

7. Worn tables and chairs

It’s annoying to a guest when they have to place napkins under a table leg to keep their dish from sliding to the other side or their water glass from sloshing. And worn tables, ripped chair seats and booth cushions also leave guests with a “meh” feeling, even if it’s only subconscious.

8. Sloppy or dirty employee appearance

Workers with dirty hair, muddy shoes and stains on their wrinkled uniforms aren’t doing your restaurant any favors, no matter how polite or efficient they are. Have a dress code in place and enforce it.

9. Unsanitary practices

“In addition to looking professional, it’s important that your servers don’t gross any of your customers out,” says The Positively Pizza Blog.

“Make sure they know not to handle money and food without washing their hands. Keep all notepads, towels and check presenters in their hands or front apron pocket (away from their rear). [Make sure] they don’t carry drinks with their hands inside or over the glass.”

10. Disengaged workers

There’s no room for a server or other employee who has no interest in their job or providing a positive guest experience. “Your employees don’t necessarily have to love their jobs, but they should always make the customer feel like they want them to have a good experience,” says The Positively Pizza Blog.

“Don’t leave room on your team for workers who don’t care, because it will only hurt your restaurant’s reputation.”