Restaurant Restrooms: Keeping It Clean Affects Your Brand

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For almost thirty years I have written about topics that were current and timely, for example, food cost, legislation, trends, industry leaders, and chains. For the first time, it will be about restrooms.

One of the reasons for this oversight is that I have never read information from a reliable source. Now that I have one, I’m going to share some of it and my impressions on restrooms with you. The article’s author is Giorgia Giove, Marketing Manager for Sofidel America, and it appeared at QSRweb.com.

The opening comments were as follows: “Though it encompasses a very small relative amount of restaurant space, the QSR restroom has an outsized impact on diners’ impressions of your brand. In fact, 71% of Americans said that something as omnipresent in a restroom’s daily life as a clogged toilet would negatively impact their entire perception of that brand. Again, that’s not just their impression of the restrooms at a store, but the store itself.”

Space and time do not allow me to share the report in its entirety; however, I have selected excerpts that I think are most important. While the author uses the term “stores,” the message is applicable to all foodservice operations.

“So while talk of the restroom experience may prompt all kinds of toilet humor, this is, in fact, a very serious subject when it comes to the overall impression your brand makes when customers come inside your stores.”

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Let me say that while this could be perceived as an unpleasant subject, it can and does have a major effect on the image your operation projects, and I felt it worthy of your attention.

“As such, understanding the role that restrooms play in restaurant success not [only] helps owners and managers improve their overall brand experience, but also assists operators in transforming their approach to restaurant maintenance. In fact, management can now capitalize on recent research to build brand loyalty through cleanliness well into the future.”

How many times have you heard, during a conversation discussing a restaurant, someone say, “Yeah, but their restrooms are terrible,” or “They didn’t have any towels in the restroom,” or, better yet, “The floors in the restroom were slippery.”

“According to a 2018 Harris Poll, three-quarters of Americans have experienced a clogged public restroom toilet.” The answer to that is as follows: “Similarly, clogged toilets are not only unsightly, they are unsanitary and cause lingering odors. Busy restaurant employees may not have time to regularly check each stall for clogs. But restaurants can stock clog-fighting toilet paper, as well as that which activates non-pathogenic, environmentally safe microorganisms when it touches water. These microorganisms act as prevention mechanisms since they eat away at dirt inside pipes to reduce the risk of clogs.”

I was not surprised by the next findings, about paper towels. “According to the National Institutes of Health research, paper towels are the most hygienic way to dry hands in public restrooms since hand dryers can blow previously accumulated bacteria into the air and on guests, of which many guests and employees are now well aware. … A 2017 study showed 69% of Americans think paper towels dry hands more effectively than air dryers.”

Last but not least: “According to a 2019 Harris Poll, strength, absorbency, and softness are the triple threat for toilet paper in public restrooms. The survey found that nine in 10 Americans value both strength and absorbency as very or somewhat important, while more than four in five (84%) consider softness to be very or somewhat important.”

I found the next fact encouraging: “Thankfully, a survey by Just the Facts, Inc., among 800 restaurant managers in the U.S. found that most managers (58%) rank quality, not price, as the single most important attribute of the toilet paper they buy.”

If you have any doubts as to how important restroom maintenance is, the following should remove them. “A 2018 Harris Poll demonstrated how online reviews affect readers’ impressions of brands. It found that 89% of Americans would not visit a restaurant based on negative online reviews about its restrooms. A majority of customers agree that two factors within reviews—clogged toilets and foul odors—would greatly affect their willingness to try a restaurant. Two-thirds of customers said the mention of restroom odors in a review would be reason to avoid that business, while a clogged toilet would influence 63%. A lack of toilet paper, soap and paper towels mentioned in an online review would deter nearly half (46%) of Americans from visiting a restaurant.”

I realize that most of you reading this meet the standards your patrons want. Still, I felt this article might just make you take a fresh look at your restroom maintenance.

  • DAVO by Avalara
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • Easy Ice
  • Epiq Global Payment Card Settlement
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Day & Nite
  • Atosa USA
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • Cuisine Solutions
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  • Imperial Dade
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • RATIONAL USA
  • McKee Foodservice Sunbelt Bakery
  • RAK Porcelain
  • Inline Plastics