Human needs are simple

Every human on the planet has to do 4 things – breath, eat, sleep and go to the toilet.  It amazes me, on a daily basis, that businesses do not utilise the washroom area. (I am going to refer toilets, bathrooms, WC’s as washrooms for the rest of this piece).

90% of bar and restaurant customers use them. Offices have staff on site for 8 hours and they must use them at least once. So every business has one and has the potential of communicating to a captive audience, but why do so few businesses pay so little attention to them?  So here are 3 ideas, that admittedly, not every business can use but many can utilise to help generate interest, revenue or just communicate better with employees and customers alike.

Create something worth talking about

When I started putting together this comment, my initial thoughts were about personalising the washroom area and creating revenue – both directly and indirectly.  What started my train of thought was the story of a pub in Dublin that had installed a graphic of Donald Trump at the back of the urinal trough. This was reported back on August 1st 2017 (here is a link).

Now this made a minor news story and, as a newly opened pub, would certainly have helped create interest.  22 days later the splash (apologies for the pun) was even bigger when someone stole the graphic from the urinal.  The reward caused the stir – 100 Euros.   I am not sure what the most newsworthy bit: is someone stealing a Donald Trump picture from a urinal or the 100 Euro reward but whoever the PR company was, I tip my hat to them.

It is a great example of creating something that is both edgy and topical.  I am sure there are a lot of phones in Dublin with a picture like that above. But there are so many things you can do in a washroom to create news. And in this world where content is king having something that causes your target market to talk, tweet or post about you is extremely valuable indeed.  This leads to awareness which progresses to visits which results in sales.

So if you are doing something to your washroom area do something that will want someone to talk about it.

Handy Hint: installing an air freshener won’t cut it.

Utilise your captive audience

Now this is not going to work in all business premises but can work in many.  Why not install A4 clip frames on the backs of doors and above hand dryers.  Use it as a communications tool in an office, advertise products in a retailer, highlight seasonal events in a pub or restaurant.

LED screens are now appearing in washrooms as stand alone items or integrated into the equipment specifically as an advertising medium.  I do not suggest you buy and install monitors but a clip board starts at about £2 each and well worth the effort.  We have recently successfully installed A1 clip frames into a washroom area – primarily to cover up holes left from a baby changing unit that had been relocated.  So think big and be creative!

Don’t discourage use

Time and time again I see signs that say ‘toilets for use of customers only’. Admittedly this tends to be in bars, restaurants and retailers.  Why not encourage people to use and see your facilities? By spending a penny they may just stay and spend a pound or two?

Local authorities, especially in rural areas are adopting a ‘comfort scheme’ where they are contributing to the upkeep of business toilets in a rural community to avoid having to keep open a public convenience – but I have written on this subject plenty.  Of course if you think your customers are generous, stick up a little donations box to help with the upkeep and consumable supplies – you will be surprised how generous the public can be.

So there are three things to think about dependent on what type of business you have but be assured your toilets are a representation of your business and the nicer your toilets the happier your staff and customers will be and the more likely they will be to endorse your business.

Right I’m off to clean our toilets and put up a clip frame!  Drop me a line if you have any specific ideas or examples I will gladly add them to the piece.

Having written this earlier, recently I was in a tiny little gift shop and  cafe in Falkland Fife (where they filmed parts of Outlander).  I had stopped to ask directions (again) to a school I was trying to find and asked them if I could use the loo whilst I was there.  They very kindly said yes and pointed me to the little toilet under the stairs where I found this sign.

The toilet was lovely but so was the gift shop, the coffees and cake looked incredible so I shall be making a point of visiting soon.

Not far from the shop is a monument to a man called Onisipherous Tyndall-Bruce, which I visited whilst on a school trip back in 1979. I have never forgotten the strange name on the monument and I will never forget the converted stable that is now a quaint little cafe and gift shop that is only a few minutes walk away.

The Toilet Expert