Public washrooms - first impressions count

17th of October 2022
Public washrooms - first impressions count
Public washrooms - first impressions count

Public washroom users now have high expectations and they can deliver reviews at the touch of a button. The experience you provide is a reflection of your business as a whole. So, what do those users really want? The experts at Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP) offer some guidance.

IN TIMES WHEN expectations are high and user reviews are available in abundance at the touch of a button, it takes more than delivering a quality product or service to maintain your business’ reputation. At every touchpoint, people are forming perceptions of your business, including how much you value their safety and comfort. Your washroom is no exception. In fact, 74 per cent of people say dirty washrooms cause negative perceptions.

A lot of time and money go into creating the right impression. Whether it’s highly trained, attentive staff and seamless technology or little touches like fresh flowers and atmospheric music, many businesses are paying attention to detail yet falling short when it comes to the washroom.

The washroom experience you provide is an important reflection of your business as a whole. Think hospitality, for example: if people are seeing a dirty and poorly functioning washroom, they’re not going to be imagining good things about the state of the kitchen. Research shows that over 80 per cent of consumers would avoid a restaurant with a dirty washroom – not just avoid using the washroom but avoid the restaurant altogether!

So, what do users really want from their washroom experience and how can you ensure yours isn’t letting your customers or your business down?

Think totally touch-free

Sixty-six per cent of people say they use a variety of methods (including flushing the toilet with their feet!) to avoid making contact with anything in a washroom, so if you want to build your reputation as a brand that takes its users’ experience and health seriously, you need to be looking at minimising contact.

Sensor taps and automatic hand dryers are no longer enough. While foot-operated nappy and sanitary bins are a must, it’s touch-free soap dispensers – preferred by 92 per cent of people - that are going to help you hit the mark in the modern washroom. The good news? It’s not just your users who will benefit - automatic soap and sanitiser dispensers use hygienically sealed refills, meaning they not only provide a more hygienic hand wash, they also offer better cost in use than ‘bulk fill’ alternatives through smaller, more concentrated dose sizes.

And if you really want to maximise the contact-free experience, automatic toilet seat cleaner dispensers will delight the 84 per cent of people who say personal control of cleaning is important in making them feel safe.

Soap dispensers that work every time

Malfunctioning and grubby-looking soap dispensers, pump top bottles that no longer pump… we’ve all encountered the frustration of poor-quality products in the washroom, and it’s experiences like these that undermine the efforts you’re making elsewhere. More than ever, people want to feel that you’re taking their health and safety seriously. They are no longer prepared to accept shortcuts with minor disgruntlement, and neither should you.

The loss of productivity, unnecessary wastage and increased costs associated with having to regularly replace poor quality soap dispensers and bottles is another unwanted and unnecessary consequence of not prioritising durability and refill longevity. Go for dispensers that are built to last and your users will no longer have to play soap roulette when they simply want to wash their hands. Not only that, if you buy better, you waste less and improve your sustainability practices too. Look out for dispensers that come with a lifetime warranty to put your mind at rest.

Top up and it’ll tot up

Buying in bulk may seem like the economical choice but when it comes to choosing washroom soap, it’s not the sensible budget choice many people believe. Larger dose sizes of less concentrated soap mean more frequent refilling and more wastage, adding unnecessary cost and time. Choosing dispensers with sealed refills gives you more controlled dispensing and better cost in use in the long run.

Escalating costs are not the only thing to worry about. One in four bulk fill hand hygiene dispensers is reportedly contaminated with illness-causing bacteria. This happens because there are multiple points on the dispenser where bacteria can contaminate the replenishment supply, such as an open-top lid and push-button.

Often, units don’t get cleaned but are ‘topped up’ against guidelines and then cannot be decontaminated. Eighty per cent of germs are spread by hands so if the very products designed to help clean hands are themselves contaminated your washroom isn’t doing what it should be to protect people and your business. With workers averaging three sick days a year, costing businesses with 100 employees around €40,600 per year, the spreading of germs in your facility can have a real impact on productivity too!

A greener future

With 86 per cent of consumers actively wanting brands to help them be greener, it’s understandable that many businesses are looking for ways they can operate in a more sustainable way, including in the washroom. Touch-free dispensers may be preferred by users, but these are traditionally powered by batteries, of which only five per cent are recycled.

Attractive and convenient

Great hand hygiene solutions look smart and well-considered.  Soap dispensers that are part of the fabric of your environment show that hand hygiene isn’t just a bolt-on solution, but central to your brand experience.  Look for products that come in a variety of colours so you can choose dispensers that fit in with your aesthetics. Aligning the look of hand hygiene, sanitary hygiene and waste solutions in a washroom is a subtle yet strong signal that details matter to your brand.

When space is at a premium, wall-mounted soap dispensers become even more important, freeing up valuable counter space.  We would suggest you don’t get tempted by small pump top bottles that quickly get dirty and regularly need replacing. If you choose reliable products that have been designed with small spaces in mind you can provide a high-quality hand hygiene experience and reduce clutter.

One of the first things people notice when entering a facility is the smell. Research shows encountering an unpleasant washroom smell leaves nearly 80 per cent of people with a negative perception of that business. With 67 per cent of survey respondents saying an unpleasant smell in an organisation’s public washroom would make them less likely to shop there and 60 per cent saying they’d choose to leave immediately or not return at all, a clean and fresh-smelling washroom is essential to create the right impression.

A passive air care system attacks odours at the source, releasing fresh-smelling fragrances to create the ultimate sense of cleanliness and helping to protect your reputation.


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