There are two ways of looking at the impact washrooms have on a business; one from a business providing a washroom experience to their staff and to visitors and the other from a business in the hospitality sector needing to project a certain image to their customers.
Clean and pleasant washrooms in an office environment, for example, have a positive effect on the relationship between the employee and the employer and, better still, can have a real impact on the company bottom line, with fewer staff days off ill.
There is also the fact a company’s washrooms create a good impression of the business to visitors. How clean/dirty the office toilets/washroom are often forms an individual’s opinion about the rest of that business.
The Health and Safety at Work Act states that employers must provide ‘suitable and sufficient’ welfare facilities for the well-being of their employees while at work and these welfare facilities include toilets and washrooms.
The extent of the facilities needed to be in place will depend somewhat on the number of people employed and the work they undertake.
However, a quick summary of what’s needed would typically include enough toilets and washbasins for those expected to use them, including disabled toilets, where possible, separate male and female facilities, clean, well-lit and ventilated facilities, supply of hot and cold running water and supply of toilet paper, soap and means for drying hands.
The washroom can be quite a crowded place, that may sound like an odd statement but what I mean by it is that over the years we often find that numerous washroom contractors have had involvement in the same small area and this often means that there are several contracts running at the same time (which is difficult enough) and the equipment doesn’t match.
Many businesses in both sectors have moved towards one supplier who can provide a family of washroom products so the aesthetics are catered for but on top of that there’s just one invoice and one point of contact.
One of the often untapped areas for savings in the washroom environment is the water management of the flush water running through gents urinals. On average, £750 of water flows through a single urinal per year. The simple fitting of a water management unit can reduce this by up to 90%.
So how does the hospitality sector differ? Technically, it’s very much the same process, yet the audience is a very different beast altogether.
It’s certainly true that in today’s world of social media, a clean washroom can mean the difference between positive and negative reviews. It’s also true that a clean washroom can make or break a customer service experience.
In a restaurant, for instance, the impact of a clean washroom on a customer’s perception of your company can last through the entire dining experience, and can be a main topic of conversation when the customer tells his/her friends about your establishment.
A clean washroom encourages positive feelings in customers about your business. This is because customers can equate the cleanliness of your company’s washroom with the cleanliness of your entire business. This is especially true if you’re a restaurant owner. It sounds crazy but when you think about it it’s absolutely spot on.
If the toilets and washrooms are dirty, and these are the places that the restaurateur knows that you will visit, who knows what the “back of house” situation is like; the places that they know you won’t see?
Although it may seem counterintuitive to associate a restaurant’s bathroom with its kitchen, these two places often share the same level of cleanliness. If a restaurant can’t be bothered to keep the toilets and sinks clean, then imagine what their refrigeration and workspaces look like in the kitchen.
A study in America in 2010 showed that 86% of adults equated the condition of a restaurant toilet with the condition of its kitchen and that 75% of US adults would not return to a restaurant with dirty washroom facilities. It therefore follows that if you are in the hospitality industry, the cleanliness of your toilets should be as important as the quality of your service, your fixtures and fittings and your food.
There are normally two parts to creating a great washroom environment in the hospitality trade. The first is normally the job of existing staff or cleaning contractors.
If daily cleaning is done by staff then this shows that the cleanliness of these parts of the business is important. If this work is done by cleaning contractor it shows that the management believes this to be important enough to employ a specialist to carry it out. Whoever does it, daily cleaning of these all-important areas is vital.
The second part is normally done by a specialist service contractor and this is the provision and service of items such as non-touch sanitary waste disposal, nappy waste disposal, baby changing facilities, fragrance units, urinal sanitising units, toilet seat sanitisers, towel and tampon vending units, soap dispensers, water management units and dust mats.
These items are normally hired with the service provided to a bespoke level for the business that it is being delivered to. Disposal of soiled sanitary and nappy waste is a specialist activity and document trail needs to be kept for this important activity.
It’s a fact that clean washrooms can lead to happier customers, which reduces overall complaints against your establishment. In the modern age, all it takes is one internet blogger to comment on the state of your company’s toilets to discourage other customers from frequenting your establishment.
So whether your job is to keep staff, customers or both happy, the key is to look after your washrooms; and they will, in turn, look after your business.