Six Reasons Why Restaurants Must Create a Positive Guest Experience in Restrooms

Tagged: Jan/San, Market Update, Product News, Washroom

Our acquisition of the personal Care business from Rochester Midland Corporation expands our washroom product assortment with Green Seal® toilet seat covers, feminine hygiene vending, and more.

The restaurant and retail industries have heard the statistics about dirty restrooms for years. Plain and simple, dirty restrooms scare customers and their business away. 

For instance, a study published in USA Today in 2013 reported that when patrons walk “into a clean restaurant restroom, all’s good. [But,] walk into a dirty one, and there’s hell to pay. Some 50 percent of restaurant patrons who have a negative experience with a bathroom—from dirty toilets to grimy soap dispensers to bad odors—will blab about it to friends and family.”1

Worse, Harris Interactive conducted a study that found three in 10 people would never go back to a restaurant if they had a “dirty restroom experience.” Retailers face similar, if not worse, challenges. In fact, a study published in a magazine serving the professional cleaning industry reported that 94 percent of people would avoid a store with poorly maintained restrooms.2

But, these stats actually point out just one side of the story when it comes to restrooms—the negative side of the story. Ensuring that restrooms are clean, healthy, and odor-free is important, if not imperative, in the restaurant and retail industries, but it is no longer enough. Now, restaurant patrons and retail shoppers expect much more; they want restrooms to create what one manufacturer is calling “a positive guest experience.”

"Plain and simple, dirty restrooms scare customers and their business away."

What is a Positive Guest Experience?

There are many different ways restaurants and retailers can create a positive experience for their guests. While it did not involve a restroom, I can even relate a personal experience. Once in a high-end Las Vegas restaurant, I ordered an expensive menu item. However, as I began eating it, I realized I just did not like it.

I mentioned this to the waiter and they not only took it away, but also asked me to order something else at no charge and brought a free bottle of quality wine to the table. For me, that was certainly a positive guest experience and I have recommended that restaurant ever since.

However, when it comes to restrooms, a positive guest experience is something else. In public restrooms it is nothing less than creating a “surprise” because a positive experience is not what users typically encounter in public restrooms, no matter where they are located.

Many people are apprehensive about using a public restroom in the first place. The biggest fears, of course, are to find a public restroom that is noticeably soiled and/or lacks soap and paper supplies. But, when users encounter one that is not only clean, healthy, and well-stocked, but also well-designed, attractively lit, and, for women in particular, provides personal hygiene supplies that are dispensed from modern, properly functioning vending machines, it very often is nothing less than a surprise.

This last point about having dispensing machines for feminine hygiene products being part of a positive restroom experience is a big concern for women. Another 2013 study also found that 86 percent of American women report they have, at times, not found a feminine hygiene dispensing machine—attractive or otherwise—in the ladies restroom when needed.3 Further, when they do find one, the study noted that only eight percent of those surveyed reported that in their experience, tampon and sanitary napkin dispensers in public restrooms work all the time.

Download our Washroom Product Brochure now for more information.

Benefits of a Positive Guest Experience in Restrooms

What we are finding now is that significantly more people no longer want to be surprised by having a positive guest experience in a restroom—they are starting to expect it. And this applies not only to restaurants and retail stores, but to schools, office buildings, and all commercial facilities as well.

It also appears creating a positive guest experience in restrooms has considerable marketing potential. In fact, some call it the next competitive battleground for all types of businesses. Among the reasons mentioned are the following:

  1. Fosters safety. A positive guest experience in restrooms helps users feel safe using the restroom, seeing that it is clean and healthy.
  2. Positive reflection. Especially in restaurants and retail stores, a positive guest experience soon becomes a positive reflection of the entire facility; people feel good being there.
  3. Loyalty. Once again, especially in a restaurant or retail store, creating a positive guest experience in restrooms helps build customer loyalty, resulting in repeat business. We know this because the studies mentioned earlier tell us what the opposite will do—soiled restrooms turn people away.
  4. Referrals. A positive guest experience in restrooms encourages the customer to share his or her positive experience about your facility with others. And now with online services, such as Yelp, we are finding that not only are people sharing unhappy experiences with a product or place, but they are eager to also post about positive experiences.  
  5. Good PR. While a restaurant or retail store is not necessarily interested in being talked about because of its surprisingly nice restrooms, it sure doesn’t hurt. Contrary to what is often said, not all PR is good PR, but this is certainly positive promotion.
  6. Revenue. All of these positive restroom experiences can quickly turn into increasing dollars and cents. News gets out when customers experience any type of positive experience in a facility and that invariably means increased revenue and sales.
  7. Raises staff morale. For many restaurant and retail store employees, the facility in which they work in is like a small “theater.” They want to be proud of their theaters and creating a positive guest experience throughout the facility, including in the restrooms, is all part of the attractive set.

So now the cards are on the table.  We know an unkempt restroom will work against a business; a clean, well-maintained restroom will certainly not turn anyone away; but it takes a positive guest experience to build customer loyalty and bring in the sales.  As we noted earlier, for many people, your bathroom is nothing less than your brand.

   - Amy Seretsky is Washroom Associate Category Manager at Impact Products.

 

1“Would you eat in a restaurant with a dirty bathroom?” by Bruce Horovitz, USA Today, July 3, 2013

2Contracting Profits Magazine, July 2012 issue

3Harris Interactive Poll conducted in 2013 of 1,072 women ages 18 and older