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Survey uncovers customers' top restaurant nightmares

When running a restaurant, you might expect the main motivator for generating repeat business would be good food.  However, a survey conducted earlier this year has highlighted just how important it is for restaurateurs to get right a complete range of different influencing factors*.

The study found that staff and cleanliness are equally high on the agenda for all customers with 60 per cent reporting they would not return to a restaurant that was dirty or employed rude staff.  Respondents advised they felt the front of house areas provided an insight into the condition of the kitchen and, while they could sympathise with staff who were lacking in knowledge, an indifferent or off-hand approach to service was a top customer turn off.

Interestingly, long waits for food and drink was only ranked fourth in terms of importance, with customers more prepared to wait if their meal tasted great and was served by friendly staff. Loos also proved important with 15 per cent of respondents unlikely to return to an establishment with unclean toilets.

The survey also highlighted that while competitive pricing was an important factor, money-off promotions had a minimal effect on encouraging repeat business.

“This study has highlighted the range and variety of factors that can influence any diner and the opportunities that can be capitalised on to generate repeat business,” says Sally Whelan, director of The Mystery Dining Company. The company offers mystery guest and mystery dining services for the hospitality sector that can be used to monitor and highlight areas for improvement such as staff training, menus, general service and complaints handling.  For more information phone 01225 470281 or visit

*Survey carried out by The Mystery Dining Company in March 2008

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