Saturday, February 5, 2011

Death by Washroom


All to often businesses will work so hard at creating the perfect ambiance and atmosphere for their customers, but fall short on one thing: washrooms. Washrooms are the most intimate time we will spend in a store. We remember dirty washrooms. We remember washroom stalls where our legs don’t quite fit, where the soap and towel dispenser are always empty, where the water-taps don’t have enough pressure, where the toilet paper is recycled newspaper (they’re out there). It’s pretty obvious a bad wash-room can ruin a business, and can ruin a restaurant even quicker.

Generally, we don’t expect much of our washrooms – generic white walls, no art, small mirrors, crappy towel dispensers, no washroom stall hook. We don’t expect much because so many businesses get it wrong. With that being said, there is one industry that (most of the time) get the washrooms right.

Hotels. Hotels. Hotels. Hotels get it right. What’s the first thing you remember about the trump tower? The washrooms. We walk out talking about the washrooms, about how amazing and grandeur they are. Now not all of us are billionaire tycoons and have millions to spend on washrooms, but even on a simple budget, small businesses can create a very memorable space (and not for it’s uck factor). 

Next time your around a Sheraton or Hilton hotel check out their washrooms. What are they doing right? And is it possible to mirror their space on a smaller lower budget scale – and I think you’ll find the answer is “yes”. 

Make your washrooms a landmark, make your business known for their washrooms because that translates into quality of detail, compassion for customers and a clean workspace (very important for those in the food industry).

Lastly, (and this is for larger washrooms) to often is equal amount of space allocated for men’s washrooms as women’s washrooms. Men can pee in stalls, thus men need less toilets, and that means less space. So if your planning on accommodating an equal amount of men and women – women will in actuality need more space than men.

Some very simple and low cost items that can be added to a washroom for any business. 

1) A Door Hook – to hang bags or jackets on. I can’t count how many times I’ve been frustrated while trying to find a “clean” spot to put my bag down on.

2) Make it homely. Add a simple painting, a simple poster. 

3) Make it smell nice. Burn incense, get a febreze freshener – do something.

4) Have water-taps that give out enough pressure.

5) Nice lighting – I’ve been in to many washrooms where the lighting is way to dark.

Here is a contest where a restaurant and hotel were competing for the best wash-room title. A very valuable title to hold.

This washroom is memorable for all the wrong reasons. And that negativity translates into the rest of the business. Would I ever order food from a restaurant who’s washrooms are to disgusting for me to go in. Probably not. 



The next two are memorable for the right reasons. And both say very different things.

This is the washroom for Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. It says, we don’t mind being a little provocative because we’re not afraid to make you smile. If we go through this much trouble to create our washrooms, imagine how creative our dishes are. Montreal-Candi-Bar


These are the washrooms at Vancouver’s Opus Bar. They Speak comfort, modern thinking and smart color selections. Which translates into the presentation of their dishes and quality of food.Toronto-Mildreds