Eating out is a whole body and mind experience. Sure, the food brings in the diners, but the experience continues in places you might not normally consider, such as behind the privy door. You know, that place.
So, what’s behind your bathroom door? And if you think your WC doesn’t matter, think again. People talk/text/message/post about the good, the bad and the ugly. Never mind the stinky. If renovations are not in the budget to make your washrooms veritable palaces, what can you do, especially in the COVID19 era? Simply use good sense — in fact, use all five senses for a well-planned and maintained bathroom.
Seeing is believing
You never have a second chance at a first impression, so make that first one count. Proper signage to find the facilities is a good start, but this is a no-brainer. Open the door to a clean, well-lit space with everything customers need and you will be off to the races. Well-placed hooks in stalls and near counters for purses and a garbage can in more than one place are two touches appreciated by customers with minimal cost to you.
Don’t cheap out on towels, dispensers and hand driers
Your guests will notice if your washrooms aren’t well-stocked and neatly-stocked. Make sure to have on hand high-capacity dispensers and paper products. High-capacity dispensers ensure you always have supplies at the ready during busy periods, and they require fewer roll changes than standard dispensers.
The nose knows
A bathroom doesn’t need to be doused in fragrance to be appealing. In fact, it is likely the opposite. The best “air freshener” is, in fact, a clean washroom. Be cautious of the hand soap scent as well. When a customer goes back to the table, you don’t want the lingering smell from the soap to overpower or detract from your delectable meal.
Ear to the ground
The vibe of your establishment should be continued in the bathroom and that includes sound. Music in the dining room sounds different in a tiled and porcelain space — check the volume. If you are using hand dryers, is the decibel level too loud for the size of your space? Young children in particular can be put off by loud sounds.
Keep in touch
…with the environmental times and let your customers know you care. Green cleaning products are growing in popularity and can help both your staff and guests by protecting them from harmful chemicals. Take it a step further with 100% recycled fibre and green-certified paper products.
An acquired taste
No one likes to clean the bathrooms. However, managers and employees need to be well trained and committed to a regular cleaning schedule (hourly, daily, weekly and monthly) to ensure a consistent experience for your customers. Even a less than designer facility can shine when well maintained. Make it a contest among the employees — “the most pristine latrine of the month.” The taste of success is a win-win for everyone.
Especially during the COVID19 era, washrooms need regular deep cleaning. That means toilets, stalls, hand dryers, toilet paper dispensers, sinks, waste bins, and any other people-facing equipment.
- Add extra hooks for purses in stalls and near counters
- Consider an extra garbage pail near the door
- Minimize nooks and crannies to enable easier cleaning
- Make sure the stall doors close properly
- Add a fresh coat of paint to brighten your washrooms
Customers typically don’t pick a restaurant because of the washroom facilities (unless it’s on Canada’s Best Restroom list). However, over half of customers may not return if the bathroom doesn’t measure up. Using good sense — and scents — behind closed doors will keep them coming back. You might be so proud of your facilities, you keep the door open.
About the Author
Cherie Thompson understands foodservice from field to fork. A B.Sc. in Agriculture and experience in quality control, food science, product development, recipe development/editing, customer service, and teaching as well as owning and operating two independent foodservice operations have given her a unique perspective on the food industry.