Why cleaning matters

Why cleaning matters

I have a colleague who heads an investment group that buys small rental units. While he is certainly a handy fellow who can fix a faucet with the best of them, he has a property management company handle all of his rentals.

When I asked him why, he dropped this pearl of wisdom:

“Doing things right doesn’t cost, it pays.”

My pal found that a professional property management company that collects rents and makes repairs and handles tenant issues is better for everyone – himself, his tenants, and his fellow investors.

That wise lesson can be applied to almost all small businesses, especially with regard to being clean and tidy. While it might seem prioritizing cleanliness will be cumbersome, and an extra expense to boot, remember the motto – “it doesn’t cost, it pays.”

atmospheric survey

Consider: The Chain Store Atmospheric survey asked almost a thousand consumers to rate the different factors that go into their perceptions of a store’s “atmosphere;” static things like how the store looked, and active things like music and stimulation. What came out #1?


It turns out that the cleanliness of the store was the most important factor in people’s perception of the atmosphere of that store. That’s powerful stuff.

Indeed, there are three reasons (at least!), why cleaning matters:

cleaning perception
  1. Perception: We have all heard the phrase, “perception is reality.” When someone walks into your business and notices that it is clean, that registers. Similarly, if someone walks in and notices that something is dirty, that registers too, and much more vividly. And yet, even if that one mess was an aberration, that person’s perception becomes their reality. Your store is the “dirty” one; they won’t like your “atmosphere” and may not come back.

It is also true that you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression, and if the first impression of your establishment is that it is not clean, not only will you lose that customer, but you can bet that that will translate into negative word of mouth on the street and, even worse, online. You will lose revenue and customers.

But the good news is that you can gain revenue and customers by doing the right thing and maintaining high cleanliness standards. Customers like that.

customer centric business
  1. Cleanliness is a hallmark of a customer-centric business: Especially today with all of the competition out there, you simply must be hyper-focused on the customer if you are to thrive in the small business jungle. And that means having your business be tip-top in terms of cleanliness.

The key is to think like a customer. What would they want to see when they walk into your bar, restaurant, hotel, or other establishment? If you can meet those needs and wants, you will create repeat customers.

Consider this statistic from the ISSA, Value of Clean White Paper:

94% of respondents said that they would avoid a business if they encountered a dirty restroom. Cleanliness is your clear proof that you are customer-centric.

likeability in a business
  1. Likability: We have entered into a new era where most businesses are not just businesses, but brands too. Your brand is your business’ promise to its customers, its personality, and its reputation, all rolled into one. Whatever brand you are looking to create – be it the cool Tiki Bar or the budget hotel – you will want people to feel comfortable with it and like it.

Creating a likable brand comes from all sorts of things, including having a likable staff, a good product at a fair price, and, yes, having a clean place. All the smiles in the world won’t save you if your customer thinks your business is not up to snuff, cleanliness-wise. By the same token, if they find your business spic and span, they will take note of it, and be back, because people like that.


So yes, it’s true: Being extra clean doesn’t cost, it pays. What do you think?