Restrooms are a true litmus test of overall store quality. Having visited more than 1,000 stores in 24 states over the course of the past year, I'm confident in saying that dirty and poorly-maintained restrooms are the proverbial "hole in the bucket" that causes a slow, steady leak in business.
Think about it. When consumers stop at a convenience store to use the restroom, they're in a vulnerable position. They may be in a hurry, short on time, or have somewhere to be. Even if it's not an emergency, they're likely unwilling to get back in the car and drive to another location. Can they be expected to make a purchase if their experience is negative?
Restrooms bring people in the door. Nearly one in four (22%) customers used a restroom the last time they visited a convenience store (2017 NACS Consumer Fuels Survey), and the number one thing summer vacationers plan to do at convenience stores is use the restroom (2016 NACS Summer Drive Survey).
Restrooms can help drive sales. According to an independent poll conducted by Got2Go staff, "7 out of 10 people using a public bathroom in a retail establishment such as Starbucks or McDonald's actually made a purchase after using the restroom based on either 'guilt' or 'impulse' purchase."
Bad restrooms are bad for business. According to a recent survey of GasBuddy users, restroom quality generates the highest volume of complaints. 69% of users say they wouldn't consider visiting a store with less than 3 out of 5 stars.
So what's a store to do?
1. Be inviting.
2. Maintain the facilities
3. Keep the facilities clean
That's it. Even basic, simple restrooms have the potential to provide a stellar customer experience. It doesn't have to be fancy. But they days are long-gone when customers will tolerate keys attached to hubcaps or signs that say "For Paying Customers Only." Everyone is a potential paying customer if you invite them inside.