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A survey conducted by SCA Tissue found that the cleanliness of restaurant bathrooms is a key factor in repeat business.

Shocking!

Okay, the results aren't earth-shattering, but I don't think I could have said it better myself: restroom cleanliness reflects the overall hygiene standards throughout the restaurant, including kitchen and food prep areas.

According to the poll, the top 10 dirty restroom factors that would prevent restaurant customers from returning are:

  • Overflowing toilets: 58%
  • Unpleasant odors: 57%
  • Slippery/dirty floors with buildup, gum or other residue: 49%
  • Dirty partitions, doors, doorknobs, walls or fixtures: 38%
  • Dirty and wet sinks and countertops: 38%
  • Insufficient toilet paper: 33%
  • Overflowing trash cans: 31%
  • Insufficient liquid soap: 28%
  • Non-working toilet paper dispenser: 22%
  • Management/employees unavailable for reporting problems: 19%

In addition, the survey found that word gets around about a bad restroom experience:

  • 50% of those who visit restaurants said they would tell their friends and family about a negative experience with an unclean or unsanitary restaurant restroom.
  • 46% said they would avoid going to a restaurant because of a bad experience with a restaurant's restroom that they had themselves or one they heard about from others.

Okay, here are my thoughts:

In regard to unpleasant odors, I think it's important to note that any strong odor, including a cloying floral scent or the stench of cleaning products, is just as unpleasant as the more obvious "bad" restroom odors. An adjustable odor control system with a more subdued scent is likely to leave a better impression. In my experience, no smell at all is better than a cover-up frangrance.

My next frustration has to do with toilet paper. Yes, running out of TP is the worst-case scenario, but simply stacking extra rolls atop the dispenser is not a good solution. To me, a loose roll is a roll that's potentially been on the floor. All TP should go straight into the dispenser, spending as little time in the open air as possible! ;-)

Last, I understand that, in the interest of cutting down on waste and becoming more environmentally friendly, many establishments are shifting to hand-dryers as a substitute for the more-wasteful paper-towel dispensers. But, some of us still find comfort in drying our hands with a towel. And sometimes, say, after you spill half a glass of red wine down the front of you, the air dryer just isn't going to cut it.

The center-pull towel dispenser is a good "hybrid." It dispenses one sheet at a time for portion control, and it's hands-free for added cleanliness.

One more thing-- the hands-free waste container won't do any good if your patrons have to perch their trash atop a mound of garbage overflowing out of the top-- and there isn't any solution to that except for good ol' fashioned vigilance.

So, the biggest lesson to learn from this survey, is that it takes diligence on the part of every single staff member to have a consistently sparkling-clean restroom. Train everyone to do a walk-through of the restrooms a few times during the rush. It's hard to do when you're slammed, but that is also most likely when the restroom will need attention...

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