Kris Alderson 2018-02-05 15:09:20
ACHIEVE THE FM ROYAL FLUSH WITH THESE FIVE IMPROVEMENTS TO RESTROOM MAINTENANCE It’s no secret that the condition of public restrooms makes a big impression on its users. When facility managers examine how badly maintained restrooms affect the psyches of valuable stakeholders — customers and employees — it quickly becomes evident that restrooms represent a unique power center within facilities. Restrooms can either be significant business detractors — or attractions — as many, if not most, people believe the state of the restroom speaks volumes about rest of the establishment. In the United States, 56 percent of adults said they are unlikely to return to a business after experiencing unpleasant restrooms, according to the 2017 Healthy Hand Washing Survey by commercial plumbing fixture company, Bradley Corp. Other respondents said they complain to management, tell a friend, post a comment on social media or leave right away without completing their business. In contrast, there’s a positive bottom line to providing pleasant restroom environments: repeat customers. In the same survey, 70 percent of respondents say they have made a conscious effort to select a business because they know it has restrooms that are cleaner and better maintained. That number is even higher for millennials — 77 percent of respondents aged 18-34 say they’ve patronized certain businesses because they have cleaner restrooms. Expectations for a business’ restrooms are clearly tied to customers’ perceptions of the quality of the goods or services. According to the survey, 92 percent expect that a business that provides high-quality products or services would also have restrooms that deliver a high-quality experience. Likewise, expectations for restrooms in work settings are high, as 89 percent of respondents believe the condition of a workplace restroom is one indicator of how a company values its workforce. When facilities fail to deliver on these expectations, there is a risk of getting labeled negatively in the minds of customers and employees. More than half of people surveyed believe that an unclean restroom indicates poor management, shows management doesn’t care about its customers, and it causes them to lower their opinion of the business. How can facility managers combat a restroom image problem? Consider these insights to hone restroom appearances — and customer relationships. CATER TO THE GERM AVERSE People don’t like touching things in public restrooms. In fact, to avoid contacting surfaces, they utilize all sorts of techniques such as employing their foot to operate the toilet flusher, using a paper towel to grasp the door handle, and hovering over the toilet seat. When asked about the most important improvement they’d like to see in restrooms, survey respondents overwhelmingly replied, “clean them more regularly.” After that, they want more touchless fixtures and better stocking of supplies, including toilet paper, soap, and paper towels. Certainly, today’s tight operations and maintenance budgets may leave less time and resources for keeping up with cleaning and maintaining restrooms. However, businesses that cut corners are alienating their customers. Maintenance priorities should include regular cleaning, sanitization and stocking, with special attention to picking up garbage, keeping countertops, toilets and floors clean and dry, and using air-fresheners to maintain a pleasant-smelling environment. CONSERVE TO CUT OPERATING COSTS Newer hand washing fixtures incorporate hands-free infrared 0.38 gallons per minute (gpm) faucets that reduce water usage by 24 percent over 0.5 gpm faucets, and they save even more in buildings that use 1.0 gpm or more. These high-efficiency fixtures provide long-term operational and environmental benefits, saving thousands of gallons of water annually, and consume less hot water than traditional commercial faucets. High-speed touchless hand dryers help promote the hygienic benefits of hand drying, but without excess paper waste and expense — or the extra maintenance. Newer models are also highly energy efficient, using 80 percent less electricity than older hand dryers, while drying hands in as little as 10 to 12 seconds. Frequent restroom checks and cleanings, along with updating restrooms with newer technologies, can help address the biggest pet peeves in public restrooms. Improved hand washing technology and materials create a healthier and more welcoming restroom environment, while their water-, paper- and energy-saving features minimize operating costs. In all, improving commercial restroom design pays dividends in operational savings — and customer satisfaction. INSTALL TOUCHLESS FIXTURES Further demonstrating peoples’ dislike of germs, the survey found that restaurants and health care facilities are the top places at which respondents are most concerned about somebody not washing their hands. Interestingly, restaurants cause even more anxiety over hand washing and germs than a medical establishment. Grocery stores, schools, airports, highway rest areas and offices are other places that draw concern. In response to this aversion to germ-ridden surfaces, many facilities are already using touch-free restroom fixtures to minimize touch points. While reducing the transmission of germs and bacteria from users’ hands, touch-free fixtures can also elevate hygiene in the overall facility as users leave the restroom area and enter other parts of the building. Employing touchless fixtures helps facilities gain compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act requires that faucets are operable with one hand, without tight gasping or twisting and should be activated using a maximum of five pounds of force. Capacitive-sensor controlled faucets meet this requirement and minimize user frustration because the entire spout is an “omni-directional” sensor field that detects a user’s presence from any angle of approach. Touchless fixtures also help staff keep restroom elements in good working condition. The “hands-free” design reduces wear and tear from repeated usage, while curbing vandalism attempts such as leaving a faucet running to overflow. Sensored faucets prevent excess water spills with an automatic shut off. New generation hand washing fixtures incorporate completely touchless deasigns, providing “smart” soap, faucet and hand dryer in one space for greater convenience and accessibility. This all-in-one design also keeps water in the basin to eliminate water dripping on the user, walls and floor. UPDATE BUILDING MATERIALS In addition to regular cleaning and maintenance, there are also steps building owners can take during construction and renovation to optimize the condition of restrooms. The look, function, efficiency and sustainability of today’s commercial restroom design continue to be enhanced by new technology, materials and product design innovations. Designed with architects and designers, building management and staff, and restroom patrons in mind, next generation restroom materials and furnishings provide many benefits. Countertops, hand washing systems, faucets, hand dryers, partitions, toilets, accessories, lighting and paint color will optimize cleanliness, maintenance and convenience, while elevating aesthetics. Over the lifecycle of these high-performance fixtures and materials, they will lower operating costs due to less frequent cleaning and replacements. Restroom products now incorporate more sustainable materials, which are made of natural and recycled materials. Many are GREENGUARD-certified and can contribute to LEED credits. Sustainable materials can also increase the durability, maintainability and life span of these products. Newer sustainable materials for washbasins include a molded natural quartz material that can be sculpted into a range of design options. Natural quartz is virtually maintenance-free, since it does not require sealing, buffing or reconditioning like granite. Solid surface materials made of recycled materials and rapidly renewable material is also a popular sustainable choice. Solid surface materials resist stains, chemicals, scratches and heat, which reduces the likelihood of repairs and the need for replacements. Both natural quartz and solid surface utilize integrated bowl designs, which eliminate crevices for microbes to hide, and they are easy to wipe down and help prevent the spread of germs. 56% OF ADULTS IN THE U.S. ARE UNLIKELY TO RETURN TO A BUSINESS AFTER EXPERIENCING UNPLEASANT RESTROOMS TUNE IN TO TURNOFFS The most prevalent restroom pain points stem from common maintenance issues. Most respondents named the following restroom circumstances as “Extremely or Very Aggravating”: Toilet paper dispenser empty or jammed 93% Toilet clogged or not flushed 87% Partition doors don’t latch 81% Overall appearance is old, dirty or unkempt 79% Unpleasant smells 79% Paper towel dispenser empty or jammed 76% Moreover, when asked about their most embarrassing restroom situations, respondents identify encounters that could have been headed off with proactive maintenance. The two most mentioned humiliations are someone opening the stall door while they’re using it — likely due to broken latches — and discovering the toilet paper dispenser is empty. Kris Alderson is senior marketing manager for Bradley Corporation of Menomonee Falls, Wis., a USGBC member and manufacturer of locker room products, plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, partitions and emergency fixtures.
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