The convenience store industry is changing rapidly. While classic revenue streams from fuel and tobacco continue to dry up, NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, reports that store footprints are growing as businesses broaden their offerings. Coffee islands, grocery selections and foodservice with seating are now commonplace. In fact, the report finds that, at $61 Billion, convenience store foodservice is the industry’s most profitable category.
As these quick roadside stops morph into food and refreshment destinations, convenience store restroom cleanliness becomes vital. In fact, Convenience Store Decisions Magazine states that customers associate clean bathrooms with the overall quality of a store and its ability to deliver food safety.
Not My Job?
Savvy business owners have taken the message to heart and put convenience store restroom cleanliness at the top of their priority list. Don Zietlow, CEO of La Crosse, WI-based Kwik Trip, Inc., goes so far as to put his name alongside the restroom complaint hotline number. He tells CPS Daily that he spends an hour each Monday morning personally addressing each complaint! “When you go out to eat and the floor isn’t clean, or you go into the restroom, and the restroom’s not clean, or the outside’s not clean, your perception may be: 'How clean is the kitchen? How good is the food?',” said Zietlow in an interview with CPS. “That’s important to me, and it’s also a source of pride with our coworkers.”
Cheeky roadside billboards advertise the delights and comforts awaiting patrons inside the restrooms of Buc-ee’s, a privately-owned, 37-location convenience store chain in Texas. A perennial winner of Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom Contest, their stores feature Texas-sized restrooms outfitted with top-of-the-line amenities like floor-to-ceiling stall dividers, automated towel dispensers and an abundance of Purell stations. However, restroom satisfaction is all about the clean and Buc-ee’s guarantees the experience by demanding the staff pay constant attention to cleanliness. “There is literally someone in there all the time,” said company co-owner Arch “Beaver” Aplin, in Texas Monthly Magazine.
Other companies are upping their restroom game as well. Pilot Flying J has put a reported $50 Million into restroom upgrades with amenities like Italian tile accents, LED lighting and low-flow fixtures. Roadrunner Markets even went so far as to create their own, signature bathroom scent.
Upgrade Your Clean
While these upgrades are nice, what really matters in convenience store restrooms is the clean, particularly if the business is banking on foodservice to boost the bottom line. Experts suggest adding cleaning tasks into opening and closing duty lists so employees are clear on responsibilities. Moving to automatic hand dryers eliminates paper towel waste and mess. Hourly checks to restock supplies and spot clean touchpoints ensure a consistently pleasant experience.
Click here for more ideas on how to keep your convenience store restroom sparkling clean.
Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.