There are many factors that can impact a customer’s impression of your business. Unfortunately, there is one important area that we often overlook: the restroom.
From restaurants and retail outlets to health care institutions, consumers today have more choices than ever on where they do business, and research shows they won’t choose a business with a dirty restroom.
For example, a recent Harris Poll found that 85 percent of Americans would not patronize a business with negative online reviews regarding its cleanliness. With these stark statistics in mind, businesses have to ask themselves one very important question: Can you afford to treat restrooms as an afterthought?
A facility’s restroom can help enhance a business’s image. If your restroom is visibly dirty, has broken fixtures, malfunctioning dispensers, or a persistent foul smell, it is important to remedy these issues quickly to protect your bottom line.
To enhance your restroom cleaning program and improve your facility’s image, consider the following five steps:
Step 1: Train Employees to Clean Properly
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there is a right and wrong way to clean. Proper training is paramount to an effective cleaning program and helps prevent cross-contamination in a facility. Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria transfers from one part of a facility to another, spreading infection or viruses, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or norovirus.
Cross-contamination often occurs when workers are pressed to save time or preserve resources. To limit the chance of cross-contamination, train employees regularly on the three c’s of cleaning—correct chemicals, correct tools, and the correct process—and emphasize the risks involved with not changing cleaning tools or solutions in each area. You must also ensure they have adequate access to tools and supplies.
Color-coding cleaning tools and using a wall chart to help workers identify and remember which chemicals, tools, and cleaning processes they should use in particular areas of the restroom can help to reduce cross-contamination. For example, you may use red microfiber cloths and spray bottles to clean restroom stalls and blue for restroom sinks. These provide easy visual references to ensure workers use the right tools in the right places, reducing the opportunity for cross-contamination in areas notorious for high bacteria counts.
Step 2: Maintain a High Level of Clean
In order to maintain a high level of clean in your facility’s restroom, your cleaning program should include a cleaning schedule for employees to follow on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Depending on the level of clean you want to achieve and the frequency of restroom usage by customers, your cleaning program should include the following:
- Spot cleaning. Cleaning staff should spot clean regularly throughout the day to ensure floors and stalls are clean and dry, trash is empty, and restroom dispensers and fixtures are fully stocked and functioning.
- Daily full cleaning. Depending on the level of use your facility’s restroom sees per day, staff should wet mop floors and clean all restroom surfaces at certain intervals throughout the day. This includes counters, sinks, stalls, toilets, and mirrors. It’s also important to focus on critical areas, such as dispensers, door and stall handles, sink faucets, and “splash” areas around urinals and toilets, as they typically breed more germs than other areas of a restroom.
- Deep cleans. In order to maintain a high level of clean, schedule periodic deep cleans on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, depending on the level of clean you want to maintain. Even though daily wiping, sweeping, and mopping can remove soil and other particulates, they fail to remove all of the contaminants that build up over time. Even if not seen by the naked eye, this buildup can eventually lead to hard-to-remove stains and odor.
Failing to periodically check on the status of the restrooms throughout the day can quickly result in negative perceptions. In another Harris Poll, 90 percent of Americans would consider a restroom dirty if there were unflushed toilets; 89 percent would consider it dirty if there were overflowing trash cans; and 80 percent would consider it dirty if there were paper towels and toilet paper on the floor.
Step 3: Manage Odors Effectively
Nothing is worse than walking into a foul-smelling restroom. It doesn’t matter how clean your restroom is; if your restroom smells, your patrons will assume it is dirty.
It is important to minimize unpleasant smells with odor-neutralizing fragrance products or auto flushers to attack odor in the air and at the source. Urinal screens, air fresheners, and toilet sanitizers can help to make the restroom experience more pleasant.
Step 4: Use Quality Cleaning Tools
Part of maintaining a high level of clean in your restroom is making sure your staff has the most effective tools for the job. This includes the use of microfiber wipes and mops, which are known to remove more dust and dirt than traditional cleaning tools, and are also more absorbent. Depending on the facility in which you work, microfiber mop heads and wipes can simply be thrown together in the washer with hot water and an effective cleaning solution.
Step 5: Stand Out From the Rest
No one wants their restroom to stand out for the wrong reasons, but what about the right ones?
Many facilities pay close attention to the customer experience, but often forget that the restroom can also play a big part. In recent years, restroom design has become somewhat of a trend with facilities focusing on enhancing their business’s image in an unexpected place.
Creativity in restroom design is a unique way for businesses to stand out from the competition. Consider going above and beyond the traditional restroom by incorporating aesthetics and design elements, such as vibrant colors, wall decorations, props, music, or even a theme.
To ensure that your restroom positively impacts your business, consider giving your restroom a reboot. While it might not seem significant in the grand scheme of your operation, a clean and inviting restroom is critical to your business’s image. By applying best practices to your restroom maintenance program, you can improve your customers’ experience and ultimately, your bottom line.