Is potty training a viable topic for venerable Tire Business? Based on my extensive travels, it certainly is! Specifically, it's time tire dealers and service shop operators realize that clean, modern restrooms are part and parcel of a professional image.
Some readers might snicker at the topic because they take the concept for granted. But I've traveled extensively covering this industry for almost 24 years, and the kindest thing I can call many restrooms is disgraceful.
In my last column, I explained why decent restrooms are important: the majority of customers are women, more people are waiting for ``express-bay'' types of services, the inevitable comparisons to other retailers etc. This time, I'll discuss the common reasons restrooms hurt a business's image.
Filth is the most common reason restrooms get a failing grade. Restrooms should be sparkling clean. That said, I think some managers have to learn that the store's restrooms demand a little more attention than the water closet of the old bachelor pad.
For some employees, ``clean'' is a highly subjective term, a truly nebulous concept. When in doubt, I fall back to the standard a former boss gave me years ago. When asked how clean the restrooms should be kept, he said, ``Immaculate will suffice!''
When I was a manager, I cleaned plenty of restrooms. Obviously, it's no fun. But if you set up a rotation whereby workers take turns doing the chore, there's less griping about it. Simply put, it increases the chances that the privy is kept clean all the time.
Furthermore, once your team gets into a regular restroom maintenance routine, they'll find it usually takes just a few minutes to do it. That said, clarify to your staff that when a mess is made, it's got to be cleaned up as soon as humanly possible. Accidents do happen, so you have to deal with it.
Overall, does the restroom look bright and cheerful? If not, is it time for a new coat of white paint? The easiest way to spiff up the place and eliminate the dungeon effect is to go lighter and brighter. Lighter colors make a smaller room look less claustrophobic.
Bright lighting does wonders for any room, including the privy. It also eases restroom maintenance chores, because bright lighting makes it so much easier to see what you're doing.
Sparkling clean porcelain makes a great impression. If minerals in the local water are staining the equipment, there's a wide variety of readily available cleaners made specifically for this task. And if your crew is cleaning the equipment regularly, you won't see those grotesque black, green, copper or rust hues.
Don't leave cleaning tools and chemicals in the restrooms. Where necessary, stow them in an appropriate storage area elsewhere in the building. Leaving them around looks untidy. Plus, the last thing you need is some customer's child fooling around with potentially dangerous chemicals!
Replace any cracked or permanently stained equipment. Once you do, you won't believe how much more attractive the ol' water closet looks. Failing to do so just makes you look cheap and/or slovenly.
Toilets should have seats and water tank lids intact and in place. Perhaps your avant-garde interior decorator is seeking a quirky, slum or war-zone look. However, most normal customers appreciate a whole, functioning toilet pretty much like the one in their own homes. Broken or missing parts just make you look cheap and uncaring.
Speaking of cheap, don't spare the soap, toilet paper and paper towels. Customers appreciate and expect these things.
Last but not least, be sure the restroom is adequately ventilated! This is not a one-hole outhouse back in the holler—it's a professional retail establishment. Invest in the appropriate ventilation so the restroom is bearable for the average person. Putting a new air freshener in the room every couple months can only help.
For too long, service shops have had a reputation for being dirty places. A spiffy restroom is an easy way to help your business beat the stereotype and exceed customer expectations.