Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
Online Exclusive

Reducing Restroom Lines

October 23, 2013

Minneapolis is home to the Orpheum Theater, part of what is now known as the Hennepin Theater Trust.

This grand old theater was originally constructed during the early 1900s; extensive renovation in 1929 turned it into one of the country’s most ornate movie palaces, and it is one of the few such facilities still standing today.

A recent visit to Yelp, the online review website that helps people find places to eat, shop, drink and play, revealed several comments from a variety of people regarding the Orpheum.

Most were positive; however, one comment that was repeated frequently — mostly by women, but occasionally by men as well — the fact that during intermission, the lines at the restroom were long and moved slowly.

One commenter said the theater is “just plain beautiful,” but advised, “Make sure you head to the restrooms early during intermission; it gets kind of intense with long lines when you need to use the restroom.”

Another wrote, “The women's restrooms aren’t big, so there’s definitely a wait for them.”

When the Orpheum Theater was built a century ago, it was actually considered unladylike for a woman to use a public restroom.

So, in a sense, it is only logical that the ladies bathrooms were not that big.

However, there are many newly built or recently renovated public theaters, transportation centers and other large venues that have similar problems with long lines at the restroom, especially for the ladies.

The focus of the professional cleaning industry has typically been on speeding up restroom cleaning.

In fact, innovations such as no-touch cleaning systems have cut restroom cleaning times by as much as two-thirds.

But there are also things cleaning professionals and JanSan distributors can recommend to their clients that can speed things along in public restrooms to eliminate, or at least minimize, long lines.

Using A Watchful Eye

One good example of a case in which JanSan knowhow could reduce waiting times for restrooms is the Lyric Opera House in Chicago, Illinois.

This facility is one of the largest opera houses in the country.

Both its men’s and women’s restrooms tend to have very long lines during intermissions.

What causes these backups?

Layout is definitely a factor.

For example, in one of its main men’s rooms, the urinals are on one wall and the partitioned toilets are on another.

In the center is a relatively short counter with several washbasins.

The paper towel dispensers are on either end of this counter.

Gentlemen wash their hands at one of the washbasins and then have to work their way around other restroom users to line up to get a paper towel.

At times, there are several people waiting to get to the washbasins and paper towel dispensers, turning the room into somewhat of an obstacle course.

Complicating matters, in most cases, gentlemen dry their hands while at the towel dispenser, then deposit their used towel in a trash container located directly under the dispenser.

How could traffic in this restroom be made more efficient?

One suggestion would be to place towel dispensers at the counter, possibly between each washbasin, where they would be readily available.

This would improve the restroom’s traffic flow and remove the need for patrons to move around others waiting to use the facilities.

Next, the trash container should be relocated near the exit door, allowing users to dry their hands and then deposit the used towel in the container as they leave the restroom.

This would encourage users to walk away from the washbasins, allowing the next user to use them, once again improving restroom flow.

These relatively simply changes could reduce the bottleneck in the men’s room, making intermissions a little less stressful.

Other Ways To Speed Up Restroom Traffic

The proper placement of sinks and counters, along with logical placement of hand soap and paper towel dispensers (or air dryers), is critical to improving traffic flow through public restrooms.

However, this is not the only area that JanSan professionals can improve.

Other ways to speed up restroom traffic include:

  • Installing extra counter space away from sinks and washbasins for combing hair, applying makeup, etc., in women’s restrooms.
  • Installing separate entry and exit doors/pathways.
  • Choosing long-lasting formulations for all products used in restrooms, including soap, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. When bathroom supplies run low, restroom users must search for what they need, creating confusion and logjams.
  • Installing new hand dryers. Most new hand dryers offer improved sensor activated technologies that detect when hands are present. They are also designed to dry hands much more quickly than systems available years ago.
  • Installing sensor-controlled faucets, urinals and toilets to speed things along. These fixtures reduce water waste and do not require the user to fiddle with faucet controls or flush valves. The “use and go” factor of these systems makes restroom use faster.
  • Ensuring all partition doors are working properly and installing two hooks on the interior side: one hook for a coat and another for a purse or briefcase. Not only is this a convenience, it saves time so users do not have to figure out how and where to put their personal belongings while they use the facility.

Finally, cleaning professionals and property managers should simply pay attention to the traffic flow in their restrooms.

Many problems can be observed quite easily and can be addressed easily as well.

Staying on top of how restrooms are being used, especially during busy times, can help speed the process and make users a heck of a lot happier.

 

Tom Morrison is vice president of marketing for Kaivac, makers of No-Flush™ and the OmniFlex® Crossover Cleaning systems. He may be reached via the company website at www.Kaivac.com.