A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive reveals that 88% of people who encounter a dirty restroom at a restaurant think this reflects poorly on the sanitation of the rest of the establishment, including the kitchen and food preparation areas. Of those, a full 29% said they would never come back to a restaurant whose restroom they found to be very dirty.
In many ways the restrooms in your restaurant provide the public a window into the overall management and cleanliness of your establishment, at least from their perspective. Think about it. How many times have you walked into someone else’s bathroom and taken a quick look around to get a better feel for what that person is like? The same goes for customers in your restaurant. Impressing your customers with your restrooms takes some time and investment, but when you stand to lose 30% of your customers because of your bathrooms, it’s an investment you can’t afford to avoid.
The first, and most critical element, is to make sure the bathrooms you have are always clean, fresh, and well supplied. Your servers probably won’t appreciate this, but designate someone’s side work every day to making sure the restrooms are clean. Draw up some guidelines to make sure everything gets cleaned properly, and take the time for some quality control. And at least once a week, have a professional janitorial service do a top-to-bottom cleaning of your restrooms.
Of course, old, broken, and dingy equipment in your restaurant restroom is going to look bad, no matter how much it’s cleaned. It probably pains you to do so, but it’s vitally important to budget some money to invest in new equipment and hardware for your restroom.
Hand dryers and paper towel dispensers. Nothing is as frustrating as sitting there with freshly washed hands trying to deal with a dispenser that doesn’t work. If you are looking to replace your dispenser, seriously consider getting a hand dryer. The up-front cost is more, but over the lifetime of the dryer, the savings on paper towels, not to mention the amount of paper waste you’ll reduce, will recoup your initial investment.
Toilet tissue dispensers. Again, having a functional dispenser is key to a good customer experience in your restroom. Also make sure your cleaning guidelines include refilling these dispensers on a regular basis.
Baby changing stations. These are becoming more and more common in both men’s and women’s restrooms. If you haven’t yet invested in baby changing stations in your restrooms, you should seriously consider it. Being family friendly is great PR for your restaurant, and accommodating the needs of young families will breed customer loyalty.
Air fresheners. You could implement a strict cleaning regimen, invest in all new dispensers and other restroom hardware, and still watch your customers come out of your restrooms disgusted if it smells like a sewer in there. I personally was in a restaurant restroom not too long ago where everything was tidy and neat but the smell was so overpowering in there I vowed never to return to that particular establishment (of course, slow service, an overpriced menu, and so-so food didn’t help either).
Partition hardware. The stalls in your restroom are going to break down over time. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to repair common things like door latches and locks, grab bars, door hinges, and brackets without having to rebuild everything.
Restroom faucets. Nice, new looking faucets can go a long way towards making your customer feel clean and ready to eat when they leave the restroom. Installing new faucets isn’t too expensive and will add an extra shine to your whole restroom.
The best part about remodeling your restroom is that most of this hardware is relatively easy to install yourself, and taking the time to do so can really improve your restaurant’s image, especially with first time customers.