We all have our favorite big box stores for an awesome shopping experience. Chances are we’ve memorized the layout and even know the names of the smiling faces waiting to greet us at the door.

I have fond memories of my mom checking every egg in the carton for cracks, inspecting the tomatoes for soft spots, and reaching in the back of the coolers for sandwich meat. Back then, I didn’t understand why she was such a picky shopper. It wasn’t until I had to buy my own groceries when I realized she was searching for the best-looking products out of the bunch—even though they came from the same store and crate.

Shoppers are highly visual. If we find our favorite t-shirt on sale, we’ll take the time to find the least worn t-shirt on the rack. What some store managers don’t realize is these same visual tendencies carry over in other parts of their stores, like the restroom.

The restroom is arguably the most sensitive part of the store. A working restroom is as much an expectation in a retail store as shelves with products and a cashier. Which is why you wouldn’t want to offend your shoppers with a neglected restroom.

A report by Convenience Store News found that 94% of adults will avoid a business in the future if their restroom is unclean.1 In the mind of a shopper, the attention to detail given behind closed doors reflect how much care they put into their products. This is especially true in stores with a grocery or café.

It’s More Than Just a Restroom, It’s Customer Experience

While all retailers should consider investing in clean restrooms, it’s only a piece of the greater customer experience. Shoppers want to feel welcomed into a store that is well maintained. Respondents to a a recent poll conducted by Cintas provided answers to back this up:2

  • Over 80% of shoppers equated empty toilet dispensers with restroom dissatisfaction
  • Over 75% of shoppers were dissatisfied if the soap dispensers were empty.
  • Over 80% of shoppers were dissatisfied with wet surfaces.

An unattended restroom speaks poorly about the quality of service offered in the store. While some stores enforce policies for staff members to check the restrooms daily, Cintas recommends that stores have a member of staff whose priority is to check the restrooms approximately every 30 minutes during high traffic times.3

One mistake that stores make is assigning the responsibility to a cashier or salesperson. These roles are swamped with work during high traffic times. When they’re tied down to their main tasks, they’re unable to pull away and clean the restroom when needed.

A Not So Private Affair

In the era of smartphones and social media, a shopper’s dissatisfaction can quickly become the world’s disapproval. The last thing a store wants is a viral video or photo of a dirty restroom tied to their brand. A poll on Retail News Inside found that 1 in 4 shoppers will switch to a competitor store for their primary shopping trips if cleanliness is an issue.4

On the bright side, shoppers are willing to forgive if they clean up their act. The poll found that 93% of the shoppers who switched to a competitor store would return if that store made cleanliness a priority.5

Most stores will agree that an attended restroom is a part of their customer service. After all, the management teams and staff who work there are likely to prefer a clean and stocked restroom over a neglected one.

The level of detail stores give to keeping things clean has shown to have a tremendous influence over the loyalty of their shoppers. To the stores who go the extra mile in keeping their restrooms spotless, know that the customer has noticed and thanks you for it!

A strategy will always look nice on paper. It’s the execution where objectives get put to the test. CoEFFICIENT®, our store relationship management platform, helps teams keep track of their progress from the stores all the way to the corporate office. With immediate access to action items and streamlined communications, small changes—like tidying a restroom—can happen quickly and easily. See more about our solutions for retail.

1. Cameron A. “Standardizing Store Cleanliness”. Convenience Store News. http://www.csnews.com/standardizing-store-cleanliness 
2. Andi V. “Cintas Announces Top Tips for Keeping Restaurants Clean to Drive Repeat Business”. Business Wire. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20101105005929/en/Cintas-Announces-Top-Tips-Keeping-Restaurants-Clean  
3. Ibid.  
4. Jim H. “Retail Perceptions”. Retail News Insider. http://www.retailnewsinsider.com/2014/09/01/retail-perceptions-new-report-from-interactions-uncovers-tips-to-create-and-retain-loyal-shoppers/  
5. Ibid.