Wield a Spatula and a Mop

A fast-food outlet can’t compete with a fancy restaurant where the kitchen is concerned. It can, however, have as clean a restroom. And, as a new Maritz Poll makes clear, people care almost as much about the restrooms as they do about the food when forming their opinion of fast-food eateries. (See the chart.) Maybe commercials should stop showing the chains’ food—which often looks ghastly on TV anyway—and showcase their sparkling restrooms instead. The poll found widespread indifference to fast feeders’ value/combo meals (cited as important by 27 percent of respondents), kids’ play areas (17 percent) and promotional giveaways (11 percent). How good a job are chains doing in the areas consumers do care about? Maritz dispatched about 400 “professional evaluators” to visit fast-food outlets and check up on them. The findings were mainly positive: 86 percent said tables were clean throughout the restaurant; 83 percent found the restrooms clean and in working order; 96 percent found the interior environment “pleasant”; 96 percent said their order was filled correctly; and 92 percent said the food “met their expectations.”