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Four Cost-Effective Ways to Update Your Restaurant’s Image Right Now

Modern Restaurant Management - September, 2018

This article was written for the Modern Restaurant Management magazine. Read the original article here.

If you haven’t updated your restaurant in several years, now may be the perfect time for a mini facelift to avoid getting dinged in online reviews.

The restaurant industry is growing by leaps and bounds, with 2018 the ninth consecutive year of sales growth, according to the National Restaurant Association. That’s great news for the industry overall, with 60,000 establishments opening their doors annually. But if you’re not the new kid on the block, that’s some stiff competition for you.

We know a renovation can be a huge and expensive undertaking. But don’t worry – you don’t need a major overhaul to upscale your interior. Want to know where to start? The restroom. Seriously. Smart restauranteurs are investing in some simple, cost-effective upgrades that loyal customers (and new diners) notice immediately and respond to positively with lots of repeat visits.

Your restaurant’s restroom is key to your reputation – and your patrons’ experience. People notice and appreciate spotless restrooms. No used, wet paper towels on the floors or sinks? Check. Shiny counters? Check. Maintenance reports on display? Check.

The state of your restroom may rank well above investing in new furniture or front-of-house uniforms and may even determine if diners ever return or recommend you to family and friends. Here are four simple, yet uber-noticeable changes that will go a long way in creating a modern, clean restroom experience for minimal cost and maximum bang for your buck. And, you’ll eliminate waste and reduce maintenance costs.

1. Update Your Fixtures

Customers love automatic, touch-free fixtures, from faucets to soap dispensers. Motion-sensor devices boast the added benefit of energy-efficiency – they only turn on when someone’s using them. Say sayonara to liquid soap dispensers, which can leave a soap string pooling onto the countertop or in the sink.

Consider instead using foam dispensers that drop soap drip-free right into the hand from an automatic dispenser.

2. Invest in Sleek, Modern Hand Dryers

Automatic high-speed electric hand dryers create a touch-free, sanitary environment and reduce waste. The new compact, clean-line, surface-mounted designs dry hands in just 10 to 12 seconds – that’s up to three times faster than older models – and use up to 80 percent less energy. And, these dryers are ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliant.

3. Don’t Neglect Trash Receptacles

When used paper towels overflow trash receptacles and scatter on the floor, this creates the potential for serious bacterial growth and makes your restroom appear untidy and unclean.

Solution: Paper-free hand drying options keep your lavatory cleaner and eliminate a patron’s frustration in trying to use a jammed or empty paper-towel dispenser.

4. Ensure ADA Accessibility

Restroom stalls should provide enough space for a wheelchair to properly turn and adjust so all customers can use the facilities in the cleanest possible way.

Tip: Leave a clear floor space 60 inches in diameter in the stall or create a T-shaped space 36 inches wide. Remember to position in-stall fixtures and hand dryers to meet the needs of wheelchair user or multi-person maneuverability.

Additional good news: Your restaurant may qualify for LEEDs Credits

The restaurant industry is buzzing about LEED certification and rightfully so. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is an internationally recognized certification that a building meets high standards for energy savings, water efficiency, emissions reduction and other environmental attributes. The goal of LEED-certified buildings is to provide healthier work environments, contributing to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort, as well as the savings incurred over time due to the lower-than-industry-standard operational costs. Changing out old fixtures and hand dryers with intelligent, flexible technology fully supports green building and offers a low environmental impact by virtually eliminating waste and maintenance and delivering a more hygienic restroom environment.

Most diners today frequent their favorite establishments for great food, service and ambiance. As you’ve likely seen on HGTV, simple upgrades have the potential to generate a significant return on investment. That’s why improving your restroom’s functionality and efficiency may be all the updating you need beyond your excellent food and service to show customers you care – and keep them coming back.