PEMBROKE, Mass. — Let’s examine a delicate subject: the bathroom for customers in your store(s). You have four choices. You can have no public restroom, and let them use the employee bathroom when they plead. (Of course, some cities require that all establishments serving the citizenry have public bathrooms, so this alternative might not be possible.) You can have a filthy bathroom, which will discourage patrons from ever using your bathroom again. You can have a clean bathroom, which requires regular maintenance and periodic updating. Or you can have an interesting bathroom. Yes, you read correctly: I said “interesting.”
What is an interesting bathroom? Well, it’s a clean bathroom with a special touch. But no one is suggesting you spend a lot of money for super-stylish Kohler bath fixtures like the ones you might see in upscale magazines.
I was once in a small bathroom with walls and ceiling painted black, sporting red sideboards plus gold-framed mirrors in three spots. My reaction was, “Wow, isn’t this something!” The homeowner said she spent about $100 to buy the mirrors at Goodwill and paint the walls and ceiling herself to create the Toulouse-Lautrec look.
I once was in a restaurant bathroom with a decoupage collage of advertisements that filled one wall from floor to ceiling. Painted in huge print on the front door was “Unisex Lavatory.”
So, how could a Laundromat bathroom be deemed interesting? It could be three pictures of colorful pastoral scenes on the walls. How about a plastic sign at the entrance that reads, “In this chamber, the most brilliant thinking occurs.” Would such a light touch hurt your reputation?
How about having a calligrapher write quotations in large Roman letters, then paste them to a green outlined foam core board that you’d affix to the walls? Some suggested quotes: “We are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars.” — Oscar Wilde; “Be bold, be bold, but not too bold.” — Karen Blitzen; and “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” — Henry David Thoreau.
Put a sign on the bathroom door identifying it as “La Pissoir” (urinal). Inside, suit up a life-size mannequin in casual clothing and beret and stand it in the corner. Think French. Or put a “WC” sign (short for “water closet”) out front and hang posters depicting British life on the walls. Have some fun.
An interesting bathroom expands the user’s experience, and just might be a reason he or she visits your laundry again. Furthermore, an interesting bathroom obligates your staff to keep it clean. You wouldn’t want that mannequin standing in squalor, would you?