The practical importance of practicing potty parity

    The women’s restroom on the 76th floor of the Bank of America Tower in Seattle was recently voted the best restroom in the city.
With sweeping views from the stalls, lots of marble and wood and other designer touches, this potty is heads up above the rest of the world. It’s the nicest restroom I’ve ever visited.
    The worst was the hole in the floor of a basement in an old building in Paris, encountered one night while wandering Pigalle drinking wine. Though desperate to go, I was spoiled by my American upbringing, and continued to search until I found one I could imagine using without losing my balance and tumbling in.
    While few businesses have to compete on the scale of the bank tower, the restrooms in your establishment tell a lot about you, and can make friends, influence customers, annoy the staff or please them, depending upon a few little things.
    While some things on this list may seem obvious, you might want to go give your potty a second look. I do hate being sexist, but the worst restrooms are usually in places owned by men. Ethnic restaurants are probably the second worst. You may not have to make the “best of” list, but you can avoid being the worst!

Clean It
    Obviously, restaurants, medical offices and other places requiring high hygiene practices rank at the top of the need for cleanliness. These places have no room for dirt hidden even in corners. Customers notice. And when they notice, they wonder what’s going on in the kitchen (or lab, or whatever). A slap of the mop bucket isn’t enough for those places. Other businesses may be a little less pristine, but not much. A heavily used restroom will need checking several times a day and a deep cleaning often. And don’t forget to polish the mirrors and pictures if you have decorations.

Stock It
    Toilet paper is a basic, as are paper towels and soap. Most women like paper seat covers available. If you really want to go further into what women like, have a paper towel dispenser you don’t have to touch to get the towel out. Use a thicker soap so people wash a few seconds longer. If your office has been through the most recent set of colds and coughs, you want to consider this one especially. Figure out a system so that supplies are restocked on a regular basis so you don’t run out.

Organize it
    Have a wastebasket that doesn’t overflow with paper towels too quickly. Always put a hook on the wall or door for long coats or women’s purses.
    Few things ladies hate worse then putting their expensive, designer purse on a wet sink or floor because there is no hook. A shelf is even a better option. Don’t clutter the room with things like dried or plastic flowers. They just get dusty. Water bamboo will grow in a pot almost anywhere and adds a living element to the bathroom.

Make it pleasant
    Mirrors, pictures and a new coat of paint can do wonders. At least every 5 years, do something different. Employees and customers get bored and even if the space is clean, it begins to feel like it’s worn and old. Floors are a big thing and always look dirty when they’re old.
    When they wear out, put in a new one. Small office restrooms can get away with an air freshener spray can or bottle, but in a public place they just get stolen. If you need to use an automatic air freshener, set it on the lowest level of dispensing so it isn’t continually pumping out scent. Some people have allergies to it.
    Studies done on scents have shown some to uplift mood. We can all use more of that. Pick one everyone likes. The natural citrus ones are pleasant and don’t smell artificial.

Prevent problems
    If graffiti is a problem in your business, there are paints and stalls that are more cleanable than others. To keep vandalism at bay, clean it up the minute you find it. If left alone it will breed more.
    Few things turn off people faster than a “Restrooms for Customers Only” sign. If you are in a seriously bad crime area, you may have to do it, but for the average business, such signs only annoy prospective customers.
    Who is to say that the next time they come in won’t be to buy something because you were so nice to let them use your restroom this time?

Practice potty parity
    A study was done years ago to find out just how many more stalls it took to get a women’s line through at the same time as the men’s restroom line at a stadium. The result, because of the extra time it takes women, was three to one. The bottom line is that if you have busy, separate men’s and women’s rooms, the women’s room needs to have more stalls to accommodate traffic.
    Now I’m sure you’ve learned more than you ever wanted to know about restrooms. Take this article, go into yours and look around. Consider it your spring cleaning!

Taimi Dunn Gorman is the founder of The Colophon Cafe and The Doggie Diner. She is a marketing consultant and serves on the state-appointed Small Businbess Improvement Council. She can be reached at

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