Jan 23, 2017
4:09 pm

Don’t Let Your Quick Service Restaurant Business Go Down The Drain

Quick Service Restaurant

Alarming statistics show customers will avoid a Quick Service Restaurant with untidy washrooms.

Like many, I make the trip from Edmonton to Calgary down the Highway 2 several times a month. Being at the halfway point, Red Deer’s Gasoline Alley is where drivers take a break and turn in for a much needed “pit stop.”

Most of the time, I’ll grab a quick bit or snack at one of the many quick service restaurants. As I’ve usually had two large coffees by the point in the day, a washroom stop is pretty much ensured.

Increasingly, I have become aware of the fact that my decision where to stop has as much to do with the state of the bathroom facilities as it does the food offering.

It turns out I am not alone. The following stat published in an edition of QSR Magazine* from research firm, Zogby International confirms an important reality:

“More than 80 percent of consumers would avoid a restaurant with a dirty restroom—not just avoid the restroom, but avoid the restaurant altogether.”

 While the figure is shocking, what’s really surprising is the number of restaurant owners who fail to be proactive in renovating a washroom before it reaches the critical point.

Your customers see your washroom facilities as a reflection of your entire business. “If the bathroom is this unhygienic and poorly maintained, just imagine what the kitchen must be like,” goes the thinking.

Keeping your washroom clean extends well beyond simply picking up towels, emptying garbage, wiping the porcelain and mopping the floors.

From simple touch ups to full-scale renovations, here are five things you can do to ensure your bathroom doesn’t scare away your customers:


  1. Clean up graffiti and vandalism immediately. Fresh paint and graffiti removal products are cheaper than lost business. While, mirror and fixture repairs are more costly and involved to replace, but every effort should be taken to fix these items as soon as possible. It may be worth your while to invest in scratch and graffiti resistant stall dividers and finishes to save costs around future maintenance.
  1. Know when it’s time to renovate. How do you know when it is time to renovate your restroom? Start by asking a few questions (and be honest). Is it looking old and worn? Are there damages to tile and walls. Do your toilets, sinks and hand driers work? Are your floors causing customers to slip and fall? Most importantly, are customers starting to complain?Here is an important piece of advice: Don’t look at your bathroom renovation as an expense – but rather as an investment. Hire a good design firm to help you get it right and to ensure best use of your space. An if you need ideas…
  1. … Visit your competitors. Gasoline Alley is a great example of an area where new businesses are making competition fierce. The new restaurants feature modern decorative elements, touchless technology and modern lighting. They have raised the bar. Owners of established businesses need to seriously consider updating their own facilities to meet changing customer expectations and keep pace.Many QSR owners are upping their game with fixtures and finishes one might expect in a luxury restaurant. Things like granite counter tops, water features, scent systems and artwork are helping to make washrooms less utilitarian and more inviting.

    When choosing fixtures, keep safety in mind. Ask which sinks will prevent water from splashing on your floors (to avoid slips and potential lawsuits). High powered dryers help stop impatient customers from shaking their wet hands onto your floors. Look into easy-wipe toilets and surface that are less work to keep clean and free of bacteria.

  2. Don’t penny-pinch when it comes to the TP. Yes, there is a price difference between bargain-priced, single-ply toilet paper and the more expensive multi-ply. But with all things being the equal, if a customer is deciding between your restaurant and another, this may be the deciding factor that puts the bums in your seats, so to speak.
  3. Think green: These days a growing legion of customers, particularly Millennials are choosing to support businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Low flush toilets and high efficiency hand dryers are an easy solution. For lower traffic businesses, timer based lighting triggered by sensors are an option worth considering. Over time, you’ll reap the rewards from lower water and power usage.

There are options for recycled towel and toilet paper… just be sure to heed point number four!

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* Source: “Dirty Little Secrets” Jason Renner, QRS Magazine, September 2013.