ALEXANDRIA, Va.—As the country reopens following the COVID-19 lockdown, consumers have concerns about safely using public restrooms, reports Chain Store Age.
“All eyes are on public restrooms,” said Jon Dommisse, director of strategy and corporate development, Bradley Corp., a global manufacturer of restroom equipment. “Today’s commercial washroom will be of paramount importance in providing handwashing systems and supplies and mitigating sickness-causing germs.”
In a January 2020 NACS Consumer Survey, 19% of fuel customers said they also went inside the store to use the bathroom.
Here are five suggestions from Dommisse for maintaining clean, well-equipped public facilities:
Post signage. Reinforce the importance of cleanliness with signage that reminds guests to wash their hands for 20 seconds per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. According to a survey by Bradley Corp., 40% of Americans increase handwashing when signs are posted. Restroom signage can also be used to remind visitors to maintain safe distances from others and dispose of paper towels properly. A posted cleaning schedule in the restroom helps reassure customers that steps are being taken to maintain a clean environment.
Offer touchless fixtures. Touch-free fixtures for soap, faucets, hand dryers, towels, door and flushers can help reduce cross-contamination of germs. Research shows that consumers favor touch-free fixtures. In fact, 91% of Americans believe it’s extremely or somewhat important that public restrooms are equipped with touchless fixtures.
Increase cleaning, sanitization and restocking. Proper, frequent cleaning and disinfection is important for public restrooms, especially for high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, faucets, sinks, toilets, stall door openers and paper towel dispensers. The CDC says daily cleaning with soap and water reduces germs and impurities on the surface and should be done frequently. It’s also important to disinfect surfaces to kill germs at least once daily, but even more often if the restroom is busy. Be sure to check and restock supplies regularly. Poorly stocked restrooms are pet peeves for restroom users.
Provide adequate trash cans and hand sanitizer near exits. “Research by Dommisse shows that 65% of Americans use a paper towel to avoid direct contact with restroom doors and faucets, so putting waste containers near exits lets customers dispose of them when exiting. Installing hand sanitizers just outside restrooms is another way people can clean their hands upon entering and leaving the facility.
A propped-open restroom door increases visibility and minimizes contact. To help limit the number of people in a restroom at the same time and to encourage social distancing, prop open the door so people can see how many others are already inside. Plus, a slightly opened door allows customers to maneuver the door with their elbow, as opposed to their hands.
NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.
For more on how clean restrooms factor into how your customers experience your brand, read “Back to Basics” in the August 2018 issue of NACS Magazine.