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Customer retention is dependent on various factors and washroom cleanliness is one of the most important, Says Candice Raynsford, marketing manager, Cintas Canada.
Each year, Cintas sponsors a nationwide contest to find Canada’s Best Bathroom. Further information on the contest is available at www.bestrestroom.com/canada
“To date, we have had two truck stops win the title: Valleyview Shell Superstation, Valleyview, Alberta in 2013, and Whitecourt Esso Superstation in Whitecourt, Alberta in 2016,” says Raynsford. “These establishments understand that customer satisfaction goes beyond offering a smile as patrons pay for their vehicle services and convenience store products.”
Businesses should always have plenty of restroom cleaning and hygiene supplies on hand to provide customers with a comfortable washroom experience, says Raynsford.
“It’s important that the correct cleaning supplies are used and that air fresheners are always stocked and functioning,” says Raynsford. “Hygiene products, such as toilet paper, soap and paper towels, should be restocked in the washroom as part of a regular cleaning routine.”
The Cintas Signature Series is an exclusive line of designer restroom dispensers and Cintas also offers a cleaning chemical system that controls dilution proportions.
“In addition to regular maintenance, retail businesses with high foot traffic may want to consider the Cintas UltraClean service,” says Raynsford. “This is a high-pressure process, which uses a chemical to perform a deep cleaning, which removes soil and bacteria that mops and brushes cannot reach.”
Businesses should consider developing a restroom maintenance program that meets the needs of their establishment and washroom users, says Raynsford.
“A good rule of thumb is to spot clean every 15 minutes during peak periods,” says Raynsford, “this includes sweeping, wiping down surfaces, and restocking dispensers. Thorough cleaning and disinfection should be done daily during low traffic periods, including cleaning surfaces with disinfectant, sweeping, removing trash and mopping the floor. Spot cleaning and daily cleaning activities can easily be handled by employees. However, facility managers often partner with a service provider to take care of cleaning details such as inventory management and deep cleaning, which includes more extensive procedures, such as dusting and scrubbing walls, toilets, fixtures, floors, etc. as well as repairing any broken fixtures.
The cleanliness of your washroom, in a consumer’s mind, will typically reflect the cleanliness of your store, says Chuck Arcand, corporate director of Canadian marketing, Core-Mark International Inc.
“If your store is clean and inviting and you have a nice washroom that’s also clean, then typically your sales will be higher, particularly in the food service categories,” says Arcand.
Core-Mark International recently partnered with Bunzl to provide a washroom program for its clientele.
“We recognized that convenience stores across Canada are getting their supplies from a myriad of different sources and we have come to the table with a full solution of everything from the mop & bucket and cleaning agents to trash containers, garbage bags, foam soap and paper towels,” says Arcand. “People typically don’t like to touch door handles as they are one of the critical points of germ transfer. In washrooms where there are hand dryers, you’ll see toilet paper on the floor because people are using the toilet paper to open the door. As most convenience store washrooms have doors, I’d say paper towels are better than blow dryers.”
Updating a washroom might be as simple as adding a fresh coat of paint, notes Arcand.
“Along with having a fresh coat of paint and a nice floor, one of the things to focus on is aroma,” says Arcand. “You can get various aroma sprays that don’t cost a lot of money that can remove any negative scents.”
Paint colour is the most highly transformational finish you can add to any room, says Benjamin Moore Colour and Design Expert Sharon Grech.
“The paint colour in any space will look best if coordinated with the other finishes in the room,” says Grech. “In a washroom, it’s important to coordinate with the counters, tiles, flooring, etc. If these finishes are neutral, then a lively paint colour can go a long way to bringing some energy to the room. With Benjamin Moore’s scruff-resistant technology in our new Scuff-X product, even high traffic areas like commercial washrooms can have that freshly painted look and feel much longer.”
Commercial washrooms have evolved dramatically over the last 10 years, notes Julie Rago, office manager, Specialty Product Hardware.
“Touchless faucets, soap dispensers and hand dryers are commonplace these days,” says Rago. “Washrooms are showing unexpected influence on the design and appearance of the whole business. They are now becoming a key expression of the facility aesthetic and atmosphere.”
Rago recommends using accessories with stainless steel finishes for durability and ease of cleaning and she thinks hand dryers, such as the XLERATOR product that can dry hands in eight seconds, are a better choice than paper towels.
Manufacturers are continually innovating with respect to both the efficiency and design of hand dryers, says Dan Storto, president, Word Dryer.
“Today’s high speed hand dryers use much less energy and offer much faster dry times than those of just a few years ago,” says Storto. “Other innovations, such as HEPA filtration systems, antimicrobial technology and sound adjustments are improving the experience for end users and the bottom line for owners of stores and other facilities.”
World Dryer’s newest model, VERDEdri, is an all-in-one high speed hand dryer that is energy efficient, using only 950 watts of power, while still featuring a 12-second dry time with heat. It is equipped with a HEPA filtration system and antimicrobial technology and is surface mounted.
Hand dryers are helping facilities become more sustainable, says Storto.
“Customers and employees continue to be sensitive as to how environmentally friendly a store conducts business,” says Storto. “One hand dryer, over its lifetime, will produce three tons less CO2 than the production of the paper towels it replaces. Producing a single ton of paper requires 7,000 gallons of water and 158 million BTUs of energy.”
When choosing fixtures for a retail washroom, the first consideration is the installation method to be used, says Rosalind Daschuk, marketing coordinator, Water Systems, Franke Kindred Canada Ltd. Will sinks be wall mounted or installed into a counter?
“Franke’s WHB5222-7 is a dual station stainless steel sink with a strong angular design aesthetic, while the smaller WHB2221-7 would serve as a single use wall hung wash station,” says Daschuk. “No countertop is required for either of these models and an optional shroud may be purchased to prevent access to the plumbing. This vandal resistant feature is key for public wash places.”
Acklands Grainger’s new Ekcsoscreen technology prevents splash from urinals, making it safer and heathier for customers, says Blake Sandham, communications coordinator, Acklands Grainger.
“Additionally, it reduces the amount of cleaning required, which can save both money and time,” says Sandham.
A customer’s overall impression of a business is informed by everything that they experience and washrooms are no exception, says Sam Bernard, global category director, Dyson Professional.
“Issues such as empty paper towel dispensers, overflowing trash cans, or frustratingly slow hot air dryers can create a bad impression that lasts,” says Bernard. “Retailers should consider how their washroom technology choices create a positive user experience, but also how they help them to meet their cost and sustainability targets. Well engineered technology should help to cover all of these areas and require minimal maintenance once installed.”
Last year, Dyson introduced an updated Airblade V hand dryer, which is engineered to be 30 per cent quieter than its predecessor.
“Sound can be an issue, particularly in smaller washrooms,” notes Bernard, “so our engineers were tasked with achieving the noise reduction without compromising on performance or hygiene. They achieved this by fine-tuning the size of the air apertures, redesigning the motor impeller and inner diffuser, and reprograming the Dyson digital motor V4 that powers the dryer. The machine’s slim profile means that it doesn’t take up much space in the washroom and it can be mounted at different heights to meet accessibility requirements.”
Instead of relying on heat to evaporate moisture from hands, Dyson Airblade hand dryers use 430mph sheets of air to scrape water from hands, much like a car windshield wiper, says Bernard.
“This means that hands are dried in less than 14 seconds, with HEPA-filtered air,” notes Bernard. “Beyond speed, Dyson Airblade dryers can also help washroom owners achieve cost reductions and carbon savings compared to other hand drying methods. Paper towels, for example, cost up to $1,460 per year to run and produce 13.9 grams of CO2 per dry. The latest Dyson Airblade V hand dryer costs $31 per year to run and produces 2.4 grams of CO2 per dry. Dyson Airblade dryers can cost up to 80 per cent less to run than some conventional dryers. Similarly, using sensor taps and dual-flush toilets can help achieve cost savings by reducing water use.”
Protecting restroom users from scalding is critical in commercial applications, says Veronica Ryan, manager, marketing & corporate communications, LIXIL Canada Inc., which recently launched its new American Standard NextGen Selectronic faucet line, featuring SmarTherm technology that incorporates a ASSE 1070-certified thermostatic hot water temperature limiter. SmarTherm eliminates the need to specify and install a separate thermostatic mixing valve. The electronics are incorporated into the spout of the touchless faucet.
The biggest change in commercial washrooms is in the design and efficiency of faucets and fixtures, says Ryan.
“In efforts to minimize surface touch points in public washrooms to reduce the transmission of germs and diseases, offering hands-free faucets are in the best interests of the consumer,” states Ryan.
Updating old toilets and faucets to new water efficient models will save money in the long run as well as enhance the customers’ experience and avoid costly plumbing issues caused from outdated technology, notes Ryan.
Washrooms in retail locations are a very important part of the overall customer experience, says Ryan.
“The cleanliness of a public washroom can send a message to the consumer on how the facility treats the rest of their business,” states Ryan. “A clean washroom reassures the customer that hygiene is important and is reflected in other aspects of their service.”