Why Your Restaurant’s Restrooms Matter

Not only do restrooms matter as part of retaining customers, they can also complete your concept and save you money.

There are a lot of pieces that need to come together to make a successful restaurant. Good food satisfies your customers. Good service makes sure they have a great experience. An important piece that can get overlooked in the fast-paced environment is your restaurant’s restrooms. Out of all the different types of retailers, restrooms matter the most to patrons of restaurants. Customers who feel a restroom is dirty are far more unlikely to return no matter how well the rest of their experience goes.

Customers Eat With Their Eyes

A Zogby International survey found that over 80% of those surveyed would avoid a restaurant with a dirty restroom. That’s over double the 34% who would avoid a retail location with a bad restroom. A customer returning from a dirty restroom might have just lost their appetite. Taking the time to make sure your food looks good on the plate and is served in a timely matter will not matter if your restroom is full of debris, strange smells and streaked mirrors. A dirty restroom could mean a customer never orders anything based on their experience there, never comes back and tells everyone they know about their bad experience.

The state of the restroom is the first test of customer loyalty. A dirty restroom will likely inspire negative word-of-mouth. Nearly half of people contacted in the survey said they would tell family and friends about a bad restroom experience. Nearly the same amount said they might choose a different restaurant if they heard such a tale from someone they trust. It’s easy to chalk up a bad meal to different tastes or bad service to a server’s off night. Unclean restrooms, however, can be a reputation killer across the board.

Keeping a restroom clean is a difficult challenge. It often becomes something of a forgotten work station, since most employees are busy doing other jobs to make sure the trash is emptied and any messes inside are handled in a timely manner. Most customers are more than happy to report any issues with the restroom to employees, but taking the time to train them reduces the chance that customers will see anything wrong with the restrooms in the first place. Being aware of the restrooms also keep their own hygiene in mind when washing their hands. Good hygiene reduces the spread of foodborne illnesses and reduces absenteeism because employees get sick less frequently.

All The Small Things

Modern restrooms go beyond a simple place of relief and a quick wash up. They offer flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi coverage and more of a lounge feeling to restaurant customers. Even fast-food restaurants are expanding restrooms beyond their original purpose. These upgrades reflect the idea that the restroom is part of the overall experience. While dirty restrooms can drive customers away, clean restrooms can impress customers just as much as a delicious dish. The attention paid to the restroom often becomes an indication of how the owner pays attention to the small details. Customers want their service providers to have that eye for detail in everything they do. It establishes trust and implied that if the restaurant pays attention to the restroom, they are on the ball elsewhere too.

Restrooms do their part to anchor a restaurant’s concept. Whether going all out in a theme restaurant or simply having appropriate signs for the men’s and women’s restroom, a restaurant’s décor should extend into the restrooms as well. Bathrooms get renovated and redone during home remodeling. Restrooms should be no different. Making sure that a restroom has the right colors, lighting and fixtures keep the customer’s experience consistent, which will make them more likely to return. Customers pay for the experience beyond the food and the service. It doesn’t matter if the experience is a late-night hot dog stand or a five star downtown steak house. Consistency is what matters.

Going Green to Get Green

Not only do updated restrooms impress customers, they can also save you money. Many modern fixtures reduce waste and let you boast a little about saving the environment. Low-flush toilets have been around for a while, but new variable flush toilets put savings in the hands of customers. Pull the handle one way for liquid waste and another way for solid waste to get more precise water savings. Men’s rooms can benefit from no-flush urinals that keep water usage to a minimum. Women’s rooms can also be configured to provide assistance to nursing mothers in a way that cuts down on waste.

Many restrooms now include several no-touch fixtures to reduce the transmission of bacteria. Many users already touch bathroom surfaces as little as possible, or draw out extra towels and toilet paper to keep themselves feeling clean. By having automatic faucets and motion sensor soap dispensers, you reduce the spread of germs through contact. You also reduce wasted water and materials by controlling the time the faucet runs and how much soap patrons use. This commitment to green materials means choosing between hand towels and hand driers in the restroom. Hand towels do a better job of completely cleaning hands by wiping away dirt and germs, but they can seem wasteful if not properly disposed. Towels strewn all over the bathroom also means keeping an eye on sweeping up used towels. Hand driers are more energy efficient and generate less waste, but if not used properly they are less effective in keeping things clean.

Restrooms matter as an important pillar of your business. Dirty restrooms can harm a restaurant in ways worse than a bad review. Clean restrooms build customer loyalty. It comes down to staff awareness to maintain proper restrooms. Modern restrooms are full of new ideas to increase comfort and maintain the restaurant’s concept. Green fixtures like motion detecting faucets and toilets not only keep the restroom clean but save the owner money. The restroom is an important piece of the puzzle and, if properly place, can go a long way to marking a restaurant as successful.

Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Mike Mozart licensed under CC by 2.0.

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