Customers flee businesses with filthy restrooms

November 16, 2017

Sometimes the restroom is an afterthought for a business; it can be way down on the list of priorities for a retailer. However, a recent poll by Wisconsin-based Bradley—which provides washroom accessories and plumbing fixtures to such large organizations as Walmart, General Motors and the U.S. Postal Service—has found that begrimed restrooms can cost a company money.

Results of  Bradley’s 2017 Healthy Hand Washing Survey.—which queried 1,042 American adults online about their hand-washing habits in public restrooms; as well as concerns about germs, colds and the flu. Participants were fairly evenly split between men and women (49% and 51%, respectively).

Overall, Bradley has found that 68% of Americans have suffered a particularly unpleasant experience in a public restroom due to the condition of the facilities. That’s bad news for businesses since Americans say they judge establishments based on the state of their restrooms. Indeed, more than half of respondents perceived that a business with unclean restrooms has a poor management team.

And fully  88% of respondents said they believe that if a restaurant has unclean restrooms, the likelihood is that the kitchen is also unclean.

The number-one nuisance factor, by far, in a public restroom, respondents said, is empty or jammed toilet paper dispensers. This was followed closely by clogged or unflushed toilet; and by partitions or doors that would not close or lock properly.

Americans also don’t like touching things in public restrooms. In fact, to avoid coming in contact with surfaces, they use all sorts of techniques, from hovering above the toilet seat, which 52% of women resort to; to using a paper towel to flush the toilet or turn on the faucet at a sink.

What’s more, a clean and functional sink area is important: Nearly all Americans (97%) believe it’s vital to wash one’s hands after using a public restroom—and this number has grown over the past year, according to Bradley.. As observed in previous years, men are also far more likely to simply rinse (without soap) than women.

The most common reasons cited by respondents for not washing hands after public restroom use were the lack of soap or paper towels, use of hand sanitizer instead, or sinks that were out of service.

Interestingly enough, more than half said that the presence of other people in the bathroom would cause them to adjust their actions in one of two ways. They’ll either make sure they wash their hands—or they’ll wash longer or more thoroughly.

The survey also found that a written reminder posted in a restroom can influence behavior. Almost 40% of Americans admit they’re more likely to wash their hands after seeing a sign that requires employees to wash before returning to work.

Finally, 56% of those polled said  that, if they encounter an unclean or unpleasant restroom, they either will not return to that business or will think twice about doing so.

Research contact: Jon Dommisse (1-800-272-3539)

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