CSD: What Do Your Restrooms Say About You?
By Erin Rigik
Through a special arrangement,
presented here for discussion is a summary of an article from Convenience
Store Decisions magazine.
With the c-store industry’s growing presence in foodservice,
a clean restroom can literally be the difference between a customer making
a purchase or heading to the nearest restaurant. But a restroom is often
a destination at a c-store.
QuikTrip, which operates 537 stores across the
Midwest, attracts a large number of commuters that specifically stop in to
use the bathroom. Parents also seek out clean restrooms where they can take
their young children. “When
I’m at my kids’ soccer games or baseball games and you see some of the toddlers
who need a restroom break, it’s interesting to hear a parent say, ‘hang on
until we get to QuikTrip,'” said Mike Thornbrugh, a spokesperson for the
McDonald’s has one person on every shift personally responsible for checking
the restrooms on a set schedule to ensure they are stocked and clean.
“I think they’re rewarded with a lot of customers who wouldn’t go to
a place without clean restrooms. A lot of elderly customers sometimes can’t
go anywhere without a restroom whether it’s a restaurant or a c-store,” noted
Brandon O’Dell, a consultant for O’Dell Restaurant Consulting.
McDonald’s, has a planned schedule for when restrooms are to be cleaned as
well as the store itself. But, Mr. Thornbrugh said, that while having a cleaning
schedule is important, that alone is not always sufficient — a chain’s employees
also need to be ready to respond to various factors. For example, bad weather
days can lead customers to track in mud or snow, or one day could see a huge
influx in customers using the restroom, meaning more frequent cleaning and
restocking could be necessary.
Rutter’s Farm Stores also uses a restroom cleaning
checklist and requires employees to check the facilities restroom for any issues
a minimum of two times per shift, and also to clean and correct any problems
they might see when they themselves use the restroom. The chain also provides
each store with a mobile cleaning device to make the cleaning process more
efficient. What’s more, the chain provides a button in each restroom that a
customer can press if they are unhappy with the condition of the restroom.
what should restroom checks involve? Employees should be checking supplies
of toilet paper, soap and paper towels, as well as emptying trashcans and cleaning
any wet spots on the floor. Sinks must be cleaned and the handles checked to
ensure they are working. Equipment, such as hand driers, should also be tested
regularly. Employees should also make sure the bathroom smells good and automatic
air fresheners should be replaced if needed.
Other factors to consider include
the overall condition of the restroom. “If
paint’s chipping off the wall or the floor is in disrepair, that defeats the
purpose of cleaning the restroom,” Mr. O’Dell said.
Questions: To what degree should operators encourage customers to see restrooms
as a destination in their stores and restaurants? Are clean restrooms, as
an attribute, underplayed by most retailers?