July 12019

Restrooms Tips

6 ways to keep your toilets clean, efficient and satisfying

A clean restroom implies a clean kitchen1

Every part of your customers' experience can be optimized. That includes their time spent in the restroom. It's a subject that many avoid talking about. But here we will go into the dirty details, exploring ways to keep your bathrooms clean, efficient and satisfying.


Urinal Flies

Sometime in the 1990s urinal spillage in Amsterdam Airport decreased by 80%1. The reason why? They had begun placing a small picture of a fly inside each urinal. It seems that men, at least, enjoy aiming at something.

This intervention has now become a famous piece of design. Seen in urinals and toilet bowls all over the world, with many airports and stadiums taking on the idea.

Although this practice has only just hit the mainstream, it started in the 1880s, when the Thomas Crapper Co, used a picture of a bee. The Latin for 'bee' is 'apis,' a joke a Victorian gentleman would have understood. 2

One urinal merchant claims a saving in cleaning costs of up to 20%.3 Although these figures ('80% less spillage' included) appear to be pulled out of thin air, it does work. We're just waiting for a researcher who's willing to find out exactly how much.

1. Nudge - Thaler & Sunstein - p91 | 2, 3. Aiming To Reduce Cleaning Costs - Works that Work - Blake Evans-Pritchard

Squatty Potty

This is not a joke. You can increase customer satisfaction, and decrease the time they spend on the john by unkinking their colons.

In 2015 Squatty Potty took the internet by storm with their viral video "This Unicorn changed the way I Poop."1 One study showed that pooping in a squat was an average of 40 seconds faster than pooping in a sitting position — which takes an average of 130 seconds.2

Squatty Potty relieves strain and increases comfort. Also, it helps to prevent hemorrhoids — not your responsibility, but nice to know. Some businesses have already introduced Squatty Potty especially Cross-Fit Gyms, Pilates and Yoga Studios.3

The more time customers spend in the restroom, the less time they spend eating, drinking and buying.

1.This Unicorn Changed the Way I Poop - Squatty Potty - YouTube | 2. Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health - Dov Sikirov | 3. According to an email I received from the director of Marketing at Squatty Potty.

Hang Toilet Paper 'Over' not 'Under'

Toilet roll orientation is a surprisingly divisive issue with preferences for 'over' and 'under' correlating with wealth, gender and politics.1 But which way is correct?

According to the original 1891 patent, toilet roll should hang 'over.'2 Manufacturers also design their toilet roll to be used in this way.3 More importantly for your business, 'over' is the way most people prefer — and they really do care.

There are arguments for both orientations, but why blow against the wind? Hang your rolls over. People prefer it.

1. TWL #4: Which Way Should Toilet Paper Face? - Wendover Productions | 2. Wrapping or Toilet Paper Roll - Patent No 459,516 - S. Wheeler - 1891 | 3. Toilet Paper Orientation - Wikipedia 

Citrus Smells Inspire Cleanliness

The smell of citrus subconsciously makes people clean up after themselves. Paul Dolan writes in his book Happiness by Design1:

“Something as simple as air freshener makes it far more likely that you and they will clean up. People who ate a biscuit after sitting in a cubicle with citrus air freshener pumped in made three times as many hand movements to clean crumbs off the table compared to those who were not exposed to this cleanest-smelling of scents.2

Dolan uses the example of a household, but it is easy to see how this research applies to a cafe, restaurant, or any business with a restroom. There's even evidence suggesting that clean smells, like citrus, cause people to behave more virtuously.3

The smell of lemons is not mysterious in any way; just another way of priming people with the idea of cleanliness and gently nudging them to clean up.

1. Happiness by Design - Paul Dolan |Nonconscious Effects of Scent on Cognition and Behavior 2. Smells Like Clean Spirit -  - Rob W. Holland, Merel Hendriks, Henk Aarts| 3. The Smell of Virtue - Clean Scents Promote Reciprocity and Charity -  Katie Liljenquist, Chen-Bo Zhong, Adam D. Galinsky

Preventing Graffiti with Chalkboard Walls

Since time immemorial humans have felt the urge to scribble on walls. The content of these scribbles; lewd drawings, jokes, and insults, has remained the same throughout history1.

This practice is enjoyable for those doing (and reading) the graffiti, and less enjoyable if you're cleaning it. You could put up signs asking people not to vandalize the stalls. It has worked before,2 but there is a more creative way.

Instead of preventing would-be vandals, some restaurants and bars have taken an unusual approach to bathroom graffiti. Painting the walls with chalkboard paint and providing chalk; allowing customers to make their mark without creating a time-consuming mess.

It's fun, looks better than graffiti, and as a bonus, you can now use the walls to give instructions to your customers. e.g., please wash your hands. 

1. Graffiti from Pompeii - Prof. Brian Harvey | 2. A Prompt Plus Delayed Contingency Procedure for Reducing Bathroom Graffiti - T. Steuart Watson

Flattering Lighting

People often use restroom mirrors to freshen up and assess their looks. It's a moment of vulnerability and a perfect time to make your customers happy — by tricking them into thinking they are good-looking using flattering lights. 

This trick is commonly used by clothing stores to increase sales. The better a customer looks in a garment, the more likely they are to buy it. The same effect can be used in the restrooms of any small business to elevate the mood of your customers.

Creating flattering light is easy. Just light customers from the front instead of from overhead1. Placing lights on either side and above mirrors will achieve this effect. 

1. The Effects of Dressing Room Lighting on Consumers' Perceptions of Self and Environment - Anne Baumstarck M.I.D.  Nam‐Kyu Park Ph.D.

If you have any restroom tips you'd like to share with other small businesses, please contact us and let us know.

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