It’s easy to overlook them as a particularly crucial element to your business, but your restaurant’s restrooms can play an important part in its success. A poorly maintained or dirty looking restroom can be a major turn-off in the guest experience. A survey recently conducted by SCA Tissue North America found that nearly one out of three people said they would refuse to come back to a restaurant with a dirty restroom.
Yes, not keeping your restroom up to the same standards as the rest of your restaurant can have serious consequences. Whether it’s a broken lock on one of the stall doors, dingy floor tiles, an outdated looking sink area, or peeling wallpaper, renovating your restrooms can mean the difference between a satisfied guest and one you’ll never see again. Renovations take time, resources, and energy, but working smart and planning ahead can lead to powerful results for your customers’ satisfaction. Check out these seven helpful restroom upgrade tips:
1. Choose your focus wisely.
Making changes to your restroom space will take time and money, and rarely is something restaurant owners have budgeted. And considering you’ll have to close down the restrooms while the renovations can be made, knowing what’s really important to change in the space is crucial.
Is it simply the sinks and countertops that need replacement? Maybe your stall doors just need new locks and handles. Is a fresh coat of paint all it will take, or is it a complete do-over? It’s true that some restaurant restrooms need tons of renovations, particularly if they haven’t been touched in many years. However, others simply need sprucing up or specific upgrades. Figure out the focus of your restroom renovations will ensure the renovation process is as efficient as possible.
2. Set a budget.
Once you’ve chosen your focus, you need to set your budget. Do as much research as you can on the specific types of upgrades you want to do in order to make sure your business can handle the extra costs. If you don’t set a budget or if you budget incorrectly, it could mean major issues for your finances and slow down the project as you get the additional funds.
This is especially true if you have to secure financing – you absolutely want to make sure the money you procure will cover the project and arrive in a timely fashion. Small business loans take time to approve, sometimes up to thirty days, while a merchant cash advance can be approved much more quickly. The last thing you want is a contractor waiting around or passing you over for another job that’s ready and delaying unnecessarily.
3. Schedule the work carefully.
You don’t want to have to close down your restrooms during service if you can help it. Ideally you want any restroom renovation work to be finished when you’re not open to guests. When researching contractors to do the job, make sure to investigate what their past clients have said about their timeliness and their scheduling flexibility. Make sure your contractor can work around your restaurants schedule so that the renovations have the least impact on your guests’ dining experience.
If you’re doing some of the work yourself (repainting the walls, replacing simple light fixtures, replacing the toilet seats, etc.) learn how to do it properly and safely — and in the time you’ve set aside for the job. If the entire project is a multiple day job, try to schedule it so that one task can be complete before the next shift, so that any guest coming into the restroom will avoid seeing an incomplete job.
4. Think about the future.
Like the rest of the décor in your restaurant, you want to make sure your restroom looks modern and on brand for your overall business, but not so trendy that it’ll look out of date in a few years and you’ll feel obligated to redo it. If you’re going to throw in a trendy detail make sure it a.) matches the décor in the rest of your restaurant, b.) fits within your brand standard and c.) is something you can easily and affordably change out if or when you decide to redecorate/update down the road.
5. Aim for function.
While aesthetics is certainly an important part of a restroom renovation, don’t forget to take care of all the little details that make a restroom more functional for guests and employees alike. For instance, a couple coats of easy-to-wash wall paint will allow routine wall cleaning, just like you would schedule in your back-of-the-house cleaning. Setting up an automated air freshener with a light, neutralizing scent can help keep the space odor-free, especially if your restrooms are close to the backdoor and your dumpster.
Installing touchless motion-activated faucets, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers can improve sanitary conditions for those using the restroom, but they also help regulate the water, soap, and paper towels used by each person. This modest investment can help save you money on supplies and your water bill over time (not to mention the manufacturing and municipal credits for energy/water efficient commercial-use bathroom accessories).
When replacing your toilets, look for models that have good reviews for flushing properly in a commercial setting. If you don’t, you might end up dealing with repeatedly clogged or overflowing toilets. No one wants to see that in a restaurant. Even simply adding coat hooks to the inside of the stall doors can be a small touch that adds up for guests carrying bags or wearing overcoats. And while you’re at it, make sure your restrooms are clearly marked with easy-to-read signs.
6. Be accommodating.
If you have a lot of families visit your restaurant, it’s a smart and courteous idea to update or install baby changing stations in your restrooms (including in the men’s room for the dads dining with you). And don’t forget guests with disabilities. The ADA has specific accessibility guidelines for public restrooms, including handrails, sinks reachable for those in wheel chairs, and other otherwise minor details that make a huge difference for those with physical limitations. It’s a smart idea to go over those guidelines with your contractor to make sure your restrooms are compliant while updating other aspects.
7. After you renovate, keep it clean!
Now that you have this beautifully renovated bathroom for your restaurant, make sure to keep it that way! It’s crucial to maintain a solid cleaning schedule for your bathrooms, taking care of not only the countertops, sinks, floors, and toilets, but also periodically cleaning the walls, ceilings, and lighting fixtures. Not only will consistently cleaning your restrooms keep your restaurants sanitary and your guest happy, but it will absolutely help ensure your new restroom features stay in good condition and ensures your updates are worth the investment of time and money.
Considering other front-of-house improvements? Check out our free eBook on “Restaurant Renovation” now: