What Customers Hate to See When They Walk Into a Store

by Chris Martin on November 27, 2014

Some business owners spend so much time worrying about how to attract customers that they forget about what might actually repel them.

In other words, some proprietors and managers become so focused on bright signage, well-advertised discounts, and innovative promotions that they neglect to think about why customers might actually choose to avoid coming into their places of business. And what is the leading cause of people opting to steer clear of a particular store or shop?

Cleanliness. But maybe you already knew that.

Cleanliness for business

Your store may not actually be this dirty. But if customers avoid your establishment because of poor cleanliness, it might as well be.

Research bolsters that assumption. According to Cintas Corporation, 99% of people surveyed felt that poor cleanliness would contribute to a negative perception of a retail establishment. But Cintas went one step further with its 2011 study. The company asked 1,000 people over 18 about specific types of poor cleanliness and how the respondents felt about them. Here is a breakdown of their answers.

    • 68% of those surveyed said that dirty windows and glass would negatively impact their perception of a retail store.
    • 74% of those surveyed said that dusty surfaces would negatively impact their perception of a retail store.
    • 76% of those surveyed said that wet floors (without warning signs) would negatively impact their perception of a retail store.
    • 81% of those surveyed said that stains or spills would negatively impact their perception of a retail store.
    • 83% of those surveyed said that unclean staff appearance would negatively impact their perception of a retail store.
    • 84% of those surveyed said that dirty shopping carts would negatively impact their perception of a retail store.
    • 86% of those surveyed said that dirty floors would negatively impact their perception of a retail store.
    • 92% of those surveyed said that unpleasant odors would negatively impact their perception of a retail store.
    • 95% of those surveyed said that dirty restrooms would negatively impact their perception of a retail store.
Floor mats

How fast do you think a customer would run out of your store if your bathroom looked like this?

Interestingly enough, foul odors and unclean restrooms even outranked bad customer service (90%) as reasons that a customer would be more likely to walk out of a store.

So if you’re a business owner that doesn’t think he or she has been paying enough attention to store cleanliness, here is a refresher course in the basics:

  1. Make sure to stress the importance of cleanliness to your employees. And don’t use cleaning tasks as punishment for your workers.
  2. Maintain a written schedule for restroom cleaning, and make sure that these facilities are checked at least every hour or two.
  3. Mop or vacuum the floors at least once each day.
  4. Wipe or mop up spills immediately. Use “Wet Floor” signs whenever a flooring surface is not dry.
  5. Use floor mats near entryways and in high-traffic areas.
  6. Clean windows and dust counters and shelves regularly.
  7. Make sure that shopping cart cleaning is a part of your store’s regular maintenance.
  8. Don’t hesitate to send employees home if they come to work with an unprofessional appearance.

Think about it: you probably wouldn’t want to hang around a person who looks dirty or smells bad. So why would you think that a customer would want to come into a dirty store?

Floor mats

Well, maybe if he looked like THIS...

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