Customers Expect Well-Maintained Washrooms

Customers Expect Well-Maintained Washrooms

By Angela Altass

How clean and well-maintained are your store’s washrooms? Customers pay attention to details and they are not going to tolerate a lackluster effort when it comes to keeping washrooms clean.

“It is interesting to see the rise in consumer awareness and expectations pertaining to cleanliness and sanitation of washrooms,” says Rob Helgason, national category manager Canada, Grocery, General Merchandise, Health and Beauty Care, and Store Supplies, Core-Mark Canada. “It is also interesting to see how it directly impacts the shopper’s experience in a c-store, which ultimately determines whether they will become a repeat customer.”

With so many choices in the marketplace for both commercial and domestic cleaning products, Core-Mark has implemented a Janitorial and Sanitation Program that helps their retail partners, as well as their sales team, choose and bundle together optimal products for the right applications.

“By implementing a program segmented by the different areas of C&G locations, one area being washrooms, retailers can efficiently determine the correct products for the job,” says Helgason.

Proper sanitation and cleanliness of washrooms is vitally important, says Helgason.

“Shoppers feel that experience is an essential factor when choosing where they will shop,” says Helgason. “Cleanliness is one of the top-ranked reasons for a consumer to return to a c-store location, with more than 60 per cent of consumers saying they spend more in locations with clean washrooms.”

Helgason advises convenience store owners to only use the proper commercial products designed for washrooms.

“Cleaning products created for household use are not meant for the heavy traffic in commercial washrooms,” he notes. “Secondly, up to 80 per cent of consumers think it is important to have a posted cleaning schedule in the washroom. This reassures them of the retailer’s commitment to cleanliness and sanitation and builds their loyalty to re-visit that specific c-store location.”

Washrooms are so important that there are contests established around them.

Irving Oil holds an annual Really Clean Washrooms contest that saw a customer in Saint John, New Brunswick win $10,000 in 2023. Customers use their phones to scan QR codes located on the washroom mirror or on the back of washroom stall doors at Irving locations, enabling them to send a text message using a site code to identify the washroom. This enters them in the contest and gives them the chance to win.

“2023 has been the third year of offering our customers a chance to win prizes by texting feedback on their experience at Irving locations throughout our network,” says Erin Caldwell, manager of Irving Oil’s Really Clean Washroom program. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive with thousands of feedback texts received. We have been able to use these comments for continuous improvement as well as share them with frontline staff to celebrate the excellent feedback. The number of positive messages speaks to how much it means to travelers that they have a clean place to stop while they’re on the road.”

The most common comments from customers focus on well-stocked facilities as well as cleanliness.

“Sometimes, our customers notice little extras at our sites, like the fresh flowers on our larger rest stops,” says Caldwell. “Our retail partners, dealers and, most importantly, the frontline staff, make this a successful program. On occasion, we also receive wonderful feedback that calls out specific employees for going above and beyond for the customer. One of the most common themes from the contest feedback focuses on Irving retail sites being the place to stop and thanking us for always being clean and reliable.”

Caldwell says it is important that when a customer sees an Irving sign ahead, they know they will receive a welcoming and clean stop.

“Simply put, it’s who we are,” says Caldwell. “Customers are at the heart of everything we do and offering clean washrooms is a tangible way to show our thanks and respect for their loyalty to us.”

Cintas Canada holds Canada’s Best Restroom contest every year of which Hard Bean Brunch Co of Port Moddy, British Columbia was the winner for 2023. Finalists were Forest Pavillion in Winnipeg, Manitoba; The Gathering Place in Vancouver, British Columbia; Yesterday’s Auto Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta; and The Big Apple in Colborne, Ontario.

Now in its 14th year, the nationwide contest highlights businesses that have invested in developing and maintaining exceptional washrooms that are accessible to the public. The winner receives $2,500 in Cintas products and services.

Nominees for the 2023 contest were judged on five criteria: Cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality and unique design elements. Online voting was open to the public.

“Winning the title of Canada’s Best Restroom is truly an honour,” says Heather Rhodes, CEO, Hard Bean Brunch Co. “We take pride in our washrooms and we’re glad to see the public does too.”

Hard Bean Brunch Co. promoted the contest on their social media profiles. They also displayed mirror clings provided by Cintas, which included a QR code for voting.

“Thousands of votes for this year’s five finalists poured in from across the country, demonstrating peoples’ appreciation for clean and memorable washroom facilities,” says Candice Raynsford, marketing manager, Cintas Canada.

Dyson Canada worked with Leger in 2023 to survey Canadian consumers on their perceptions of indoor air quality and found that 38 per cent of Canadians are more concerned about air quality since the pandemic and eight in 10 Canadians feel businesses have a responsibility to improve indoor air quality.

“They feel indoor air quality can be compromised by pollutants and air purification systems are effective in reducing them,” says a Dyson spokesperson, noting that the Dyson Airblade is a sensor-operated touch-free hand dryer with HEPA filtration that purifies the air used to dry hands.”

Dyson’s 2020 Washroom Attitudes study found that as a result of the pandemic, 75 per cent of Canadians are less likely to leave a washroom without washing their hands.

Kohler Canada recently launched a new website,, with a section dedicated to commercial products. Donna Church, manager, marketing and communications, Kohler Canada, comments on the accuracy of their touchless technology for commercial applications.

“Our touchless flush sensors eliminate random ghost flushes that are evident on other technologies,” says Church. “Our touchless faucet sensors optimize the faucet’s operation with the sensor situated under the spout close to the aerator. It is designed for accurate detection to save on water. Our toilet seats have specific features that are hygienic. The lift tab is a big feature and is used frequently in commercial bathrooms.”

As you review some of the newest technological advancements in washroom products, remember to keep in mind the basics, including the importance of regular cleaning and maintenance. People will notice your efforts and are likely to reward your store by becoming regular customers.

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