Intelligent Restroom Design

The right elements can promote cleanliness, operating efficiency — and customer loyalty

It pays for retail management to take a good look at their restrooms.

A recent national survey about public hand-washing behavior reveals that restrooms represent a powerhouse of customer perception and influence. According to the survey conducted by Bradley Corporation, 73% of consumers believe a bad rest-room indicates poor management of a business. 

In addition:

  • 69% say it lowers their opinion of the company;
  • 65% say it shows the business doesn’t care about customers;
  • 61% say it gives the impression the company is lazy or sloppy; and
  • 64% say it causes them either to think twice about patronizing the business or to never frequent it again, which can be toxic to stores that are dependent on repeat customers, in-store activity and an engaged sales staff.

Bradley’s survey also reveals that restroom users may have a sixth sense about the presence of germs on restroom surfaces. With the goal of avoiding contact with germs, respondents report operating the toilet flusher with their foot (64%), using a paper towel when touching the restroom door (60%), and opening and closing doors with their hip (48%). 

Germs are definitely a concern with shoppers in supermarkets. Thirty-four percent of consumers say they are most concerned about somebody not washing their hands in food stores. Restaurants, however, carry the most germ anxiety and were mentioned by 76%.

Every facility needs a comprehensive restroom maintenance program, including regular deep cleaning and sanitizing, garbage disposal and odor control protection, as well as maintenance checks to make sure dispensers are stocked, and fixtures and equipment are functioning properly.

Using intelligent restroom design elements can also elevate the level of restroom cleanliness, maintainability, attractiveness and safety. Here are some points to consider:

Low Maintenance: More lavatory fixtures are made from durable, low-maintenance and sustainable materials, such as resilient natural molded quartz or solid surface made of recycled materials and rapidly renewable material. These durable materials are easy to clean and maintain. 

As for drying hands, high-speed touchless hand dryers help promote hygienic hand-drying without excess paper waste and expense. Newer models are also highly energy efficient, as they use 80% less electricity than other dryers, while drying hands in as little as 10 to 12 seconds. 

Getting Warmer: To keep restrooms from feeling institutional and cold, select warm-colored natural stone or ceramic tile. Opt for resilient natural quartz or solid-surface lavatory systems in earth shades that coordinate with other accessories in the restroom.

Coordinating stainless-steel accessories with lavatory systems in earth-tone shades will complement the warm color scheme and other accessories in the restroom. Good lighting also promotes aesthetics because it lets patrons see how clean — and safe — the facility’s restrooms are. Keep lighting in the warm temperature range, and stay on the softer side. 

Touchless Fixtures: Hands-free fixtures help users avoid touching surfaces, and help improve overall facility hygiene as users leave the restroom and enter other areas. While touchless fixtures are hygienic and convenient for consumers to use, they are also easier for staff to clean and maintain. Wear and tear from usage is minimized and helps discourage van dalism attempts, such as leaving a faucet running to create a mess in the restroom. Sensored faucets prevent overflows with an automatic shut-off. In addition, some newer hands-free fixtures use 0.38 GPM faucets versus 0.5 GPM, which achieves a 24% water savings.

Dry Floors: Wet and slippery floors elevate the risk of washroom falls. A new hand-washing fixture with the basin, touchless soap, faucet and high-efficiency hand dryer all in the same unit eliminates dripping water on the floor as user’s hands stay within the sink area until they are dried.

A well-planned restroom design with durable and efficient fixtures not only bolsters customers’ views of the business, it also affects maintenance costs, encourages healthy hand-washing practices and creates an enhanced consumer experience.

Jon Dommisse is director of global marketing and strategic development Bradley Corp. (bradleycorp.com).

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