Most successful consumer business owners know that cleanliness is key to keeping repeat customers. According to a recent retail consumer study performed by M/A/R/C Research and National In-Store, 14 percent of consumers polled said they would stop visiting a store that was not as clean as they would like. Moreover, 29 percent said they would continue visiting an unclean store only if it was necessary.
This sentiment is especially true in any establishment serving food, especially those trying to establish sophisticated clientele. In fact, many people have even been known to equate kitchen hygiene with restroom cleanliness.
A suitable place to start with cleanliness is restroom design, especially when choosing materials. Materials that withstand the rigors of everyday use while providing surfaces that are both easy and cost-effective to clean are essential for not only ensuring sanitary conditions, but also creating ambiance.
One material that is performing well in these environments and being increasingly specified by facility managers and designers alike is high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a sustainable material for restroom stall partitions. In addition to blending easily into new, modern designs, HDPE are very easy to clean and naturally resistant to bacteria. Whereas traditional materials like metal can rust or be permanently defaced, HDPE offers superior resistance to dents, scratches, graffiti, corrosion, mildew and moisture.
Since plastic is a solid composite, HDPE partitions also maintain a property of impermeability that does not allow them to retain or absorb water. Because of this characteristic, the partitions will resist water damage and are rust proof. This makes the stalls ideal for power-washing and hose-down cleaning.
An ideal example of HDPE benefits can be found at the Blu Wasabi restaurant, which opened September 2014 in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. With upscale décor designed to promote an “East meets West” theme in a feel-good atmosphere, Blu Wasabi combines “live chill vibe music” with a full-service experience offering delectable Asian delicacies.
According to ownership, the upscale restaurant was designed to not only specialize in sumptuous Asian cuisine, but also offer an environment that helps guests unwind. This included handpicked décor that blends fine dining and upbeat experiences.
Blu Wasabi’s restrooms were no exception. Full-length, HDPE bathroom partitions were chosen for their long-term durability and ability to seamlessly blend with the restaurant’s clean, modern feel and Titanium and Concrete color scheme. Another reason was privacy. In addition to blending with the bathroom’s custom fixtures, they also stretched all the way to the floor, so the occupant’s legs couldn’t be seen under the stall.
As for maintenance and cleaning, the HDPE partitions never need painting and will last for years with the proper care. For instance, mild stains and general soiling can often be removed with a mild cleaner and water. Tougher stains are normally counteracted with solutions containing 2⁄3 cup of trisodium phosphate, 1⁄2 cup of household detergent and a gallon of water. If those solutions are not viable, a non-abrasive industrial-strength cleaner will do the job without damaging the surface of the bathroom partition.
In addition, it is generally recommended that all surfaces ranging from toilets and faucets to bathroom stalls and door handles should be sprayed down each morning or evening with a disinfectant before opening for business. These cleaners should be allowed to set for seven minutes and then wiped away.
There’s no way around it. Germs and bacteria are among the greatest foes of any restaurant, especially one that caters to upscale clientele in an environment designed for fun and staying profitable with repeat customers. Consequently, there are few things that will tarnish a restaurant’s reputation more than bad food, terrible service, shoddy appearances and dirty bathrooms.
While bathroom stalls can do little to enhance food quality or service, clean bathrooms are essential to customer relations. A survey by Harris Interactive for SCA Tissue North America recently found that approximately 50 percent of restaurant patrons will complain to friends and family about restroom problems ranging from dirty toilets to bad smells. Most importantly, 30 percent of those surveyed said they would never return to that eatery again.
So, don’t take the chance. A terrible bathroom experience is as undesirable as a badly-cooked steak and cleanliness is as important as a solid menu. Unfortunately, there’s no going back once a bad impression is made.