CStore Decisions (CSD) is recognizing two chains for their Best in Class Restrooms: Weigel’s and Maverik. Both have demonstrated superior efforts not only in keeping restrooms clean and sanitized, but also in investing in equipment to keep customers and germs apart.
Let’s face it — it’s tough to keep c-store restrooms clean at peak sales times. For some, that’s most of the day. For others, that can vary depending on location, store size and hours of operation — keeping a washroom up to snuff at a 24-hour location can be especially challenging. But few efforts go as far in bolstering customer confidence in your operation.
A 2020 survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted for Cintas by The Harris Poll found that over three in five Americans (62%) reported frequent disinfection and sanitization of restrooms in public facilities would make them feel more self-assured.
And it’s even more important during a pandemic. Customers are more concerned than ever with public spaces that are clean and safe. The Cintas survey also revealed that 61% of Americans said they would feel more confident if the facility has implemented additional cleaning and disinfecting protocols, which includes professional application of a disinfectant or sanitizer.
Both of CSD’s Restroom Award winners are doing just that, following not only guidelines set by makers of their cleaning products, but going even further and adhering to guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep customers healthy.
Gas Buddy’s October 2020 “Q3 2020 Gas Station Ratings and Foot Traffic Report” found that station cleanliness drives visits.
During Q3 2020, stations with above-average cleanliness ratings drove 21% more visits than their below-average competitors, up five percentage points compared to Q2.
For the awards, CSD looked at four factors of cleanliness and procedures in maintaining properly sanitized restrooms:
- Frequency of Cleaning — How often does a chain spot-clean its public restrooms, and are they completely cleaned more often than once per day?
- Modern Technology — Has the chain invested in measures beyond the most common sanitary equipment and furnishings, i.e. touchless hand dryers and towel dispensers, touchless toilet fixtures, doorless entry/exit or touchless doors, non-porous countertops, etc.?
- CDC Guidance During COVID-19 — Does the chain follow CDC guidelines in cleaning and maintenance of restroom facilities?
- Employee Buy-In — Has the chain made the effort to help staff and employees understand the importance of restroom cleanliness, not only to store appearance but customer health, as well?
WINNER: Weigel’s, Powell, Tennessee
Store Count: 64 stores in Tennessee
Weigel’s doesn’t fool around with COVID-19, wisely following the CDC’s recommendations at its c-stores.
“To combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the CDC advises to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently,” said Weigel’s CEO Ken McMullen. That includes door handles, soap dispensers, sinks/faucets, bathroom stall doors, tops of urinals and toilet paper holders, he added.
“Bathroom are checked by staff multiple times a day,” explained McMullen, “with a full cleaning every two hours — and a DEEP clean two to three times a day depending on if it is a 24-hour store or not.”
That deep clean is often a far cry from what used to be the norm back in the “Cokes and smokes” days of managing convenience retail. Weigel’s understands that it’s especially important in meeting today’s customer expectations that are even further heightened by the current health emergency.
McMullen also stressed the chain’s belief in employing touchless technology to keep patrons and germs separated.
“We have touchless hand dryers, auto flushing urinals/toilets, touchless sinks and restrooms with touchless entryways,” McMullen explained.
But Weigel’s also goes far beyond the basics to convey a sense of sanitation.
“We have solid-surface vanity tops, stainless-steel wash basins, and we use quat (quaternary ammonium compound) sanitizer to disinfect our store,” McMullen said.
Most quat sanitizers are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to kill human coronavirus.
Weigel’s also operates on the premise that a clean store environment is everyone’s job. McMullen stressed that restroom cleanliness isn’t simply the job of a janitor or cleaning team.
“Set procedures and best practices that are trained to ALL team members,” he said. “We set very high standards on the cleanliness of our stores and restrooms.”
WINNER: Maverik, Salt Lake City, Utah
Store Count: 342 across 11 Western U.S. states
“Maverik has always put significant emphasis on ‘clean,’” said Danielle Matiussi, vice president of retail operations for Maverik. “The COVID-19 pandemic has absolutely influenced our approach and how we think about cleaning and sanitizing.”
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maverik answered the call and upped the ante. “Now we focus on ‘cleaning and sanitizing,’”
She called it a “granular difference,” but added it makes a big impact in the minds of employees, particularly as it relates to CDC guidance on the lifespan of a virus on surfaces.
“We are cleaning and sanitizing every 30 minutes versus on the hour, and we have moved to products that have been certified to kill SARS-CoV-2 with adherence to the required contact time.”
Maverik’s policy is that restrooms are checked hourly by staff and spot cleaned at that time. They are totally cleaned a minimum of twice per day, Mattiussi said, but always when needed. And this is at a chain that operates a majority of locations 24 hours a day.
Not only has Maverik implemented new touchless technology for its restrooms, but it also makes a point to work with local health officials to stay out front of new developments.
“Maverik has had a focus on a touchless experience, but we had a mixed bag of touch and touch-free environments in our older vintage stores,” Mattiussi explained. “Over the years, we encountered various health departments that had insisted on doors prior to COVID. It’s been an opportunity to collaborate with health departments; and early pandemic, we removed restroom doors in as many existing stores as possible.”
She added that Maverik has come a long way in terms of touchless spigots, hand dryers and toilets — and in most stores, customers will have a completely touch-free experience.
Mattiussi echoed Weigel’s “all-hands-on-deck” approach to clean store environments. “The store team has to view the restroom experience as vital to the overall business,” stressed Mattiussi. “When employees believe that clean restrooms translate into happy customers and increased sales, it becomes something to take pride in. If you can make that personal connection from the employee’s actions to the customer experience and embed ‘the why,’ employees will get behind it and ensure it gets done.”
The days of what Mattiussi called “an outdated signature sheet” on the back of a restroom door aren’t good enough.
“It only happens with dedicated employees that care about the customer experience,” she said.
CStore Decisions congratulates Weigel’s and Maverik for going the extra mile for customers’ health and safety.