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A Guide to Restroom Surveys – Generate Insights and Improve Standards

Nov 4, 2023 | Blog

Key Takeaways on Using Restroom Surveys for Improvements

  • Restroom surveys help facility managers identify problems and prioritize improvements.
  • Businesses with clean restrooms are more profitable so using survey data in vital.
  • There are three types of surveys – feedback, market research and third party research.
  • Surveys should gather data on cleanliness, functionality, quality of consumables, and overall experience from public restroom users.
  • The questions should be objective and quantifiable whenever possible.
  • Surveys can be conducted regularly or on an ad hoc basis when issues arise.
  • Data should be carefully analyzed to uncover patterns and identify areas needing attention.
  • Follow up on survey findings by making improvements and communicating with stakeholders.
  • Well-designed surveys provide tangible benefits like improved cleanliness, functionality and user experience.

Three Types of Surveys that a Business Must Use

  1. Having alerts from your restroom users as they are at the location alerting you to any issue means you can fix the issue and remove the hazard in seconds
  2. Having market research data from your restroom users on their habits, preferences and opinions means you will know what to focus on to improve
  3. Having third party data from the general public means you will know the major public attitudes and trends in restroom behavior.


Three types of restroom surveys

How to Use Restroom Surveys to Improve Your Facilities

Well-maintained restrooms are vital for any facility. Moreover, since COVID – customers expect clean, comfortable and fully-functional restrooms when visiting businesses, airports, schools, healthcare facilities, recreational facilities and other locations.

As a facility manager, you are responsible for ensuring your organization’s restrooms meet the needs of users and comply with health codes and accessibility regulations. But how do you really know if your restrooms are getting the job done?

The bottom line is that restroom surveys provide an easy and effective way to gather actionable data. Three types of surveys exist which mean a rich source of actionable data.

In this blog post, we will explore best practices for leveraging restroom surveys to optimize these important spaces in your facility.

Why Conduct Restroom Surveys? (hint – clean restrooms!)

There are several key benefits to collecting survey data on your restrooms:

1) Identify problems in your public restroom.

Use on the spot feedback to collect the data and alerts. This will bring issues to light that you may not be aware of otherwise and alert you in seconds so can fix the issue quickly. Is the soap dispenser regularly empty? Are toilets consistently clogged? Do paper towel dispensers malfunction? Are the touchless fixtures working well? Do we have accessible restrooms? Do users like liquid soaps? The prompt for this type is signage located in the restroom:

Flushcheck Signage for feedback

2) Prioritize improvements.

Use your own market research to collect representative data from your own restroom user population. With hard data in hand, you can make evidence-based decisions on where to direct time, money and other resources. Detailed survey data makes emerging problems obvious. Furthermore, you’ll know which issues to tackle first.

  1. Quantify user experiences: How clean, comfortable and user-friendly are the restrooms. In addition, concrete metrics provide an objective assessment.
  2. Track changes over time: Conducting recurring surveys allows you to benchmark performance and monitor the impact of initiatives.
  3. Compare restrooms: Find out which restrooms are rated highest and lowest. Then apply insights from your top performers to upgrade other spaces.

In short, restroom surveys deliver the tangible, actionable insights you need to optimize these facilities. Just be sure your survey questions and methodology set you up for success.

3) Plan for changes developing in the public at large.

Use public available studies eg. Handwashing Habits to ensure you rea aware of developing trends and changes in restroom usage and attitudes.

Best Practices for Effective On the Spot Feedback

Follow these tips and touchless feedback guidelines when creating a quick method for restroom users to evaluate your restrooms:

  1. Keep the feedback short. This means 1-2 questions only determining the main issue.
  2. Enable feedback via the cell phone – any phone, any language
  3. Avoid using touchscreen devices
  4. Have the alerts go the right staff in seconds
  5. Track the alert fixes until the issue is complete

Effective Techniques for Collecting Your Market Research

Use both in person and online survey tools. Include questions on:

  • Cleanliness of floors, sinks, mirrors, stalls, toilets etc.
  • Functionality of dispensers, toilet seat, fixtures, stalls, toilets, doors, toilet flusher etc.
  • Quality and availability of consumables like soap, paper towels, toilet paper etc.
  • Overall ease and comfort of use.
  • Public toilet restroom access

Use a consistent rating scale such as 1 = Very Dissatisfied to 5 = Very Satisfied, to standardize responses.

  1. Supplement with open-ended comments to capture details the structured questions may miss.
  2. Regularly conduct surveys (likely quarterly or monthly) to spot trends over time.
  3. Survey on an ad hoc basis when issues arise to dig into the situation.
  4. Gather large sample sizes for statistical significance and to catch intermittent issues.
  5. Randomize restrooms surveyed so you rotate through all of them.
  6. Standardize survey procedures for consistent administration across locations.

Now let’s look at proven techniques for distributing surveys, gathering responses and analyzing the data.

Ask objective, quantifiable questions whenever possible. For example, “On a scale of 1 to 5, how clean was the restroom?” will provide more meaningful data than just “Was the restroom clean?” There are several options for how to conduct restroom surveys, including:

  1. Intercept surveys: Survey takers directly engage with restroom users on-site.
  2. Comment cards: Printed cards placed in restrooms ask questions and provide a return box.
  3. Emailed surveys: Send electronic surveys to employees to complete after using restrooms.
  4. SMS surveys: Users text a short code to leave feedback on restrooms.
  5. Web surveys: Users take the survey online via public WiFi on their own devices.
To increase participation:

– Make taking the survey as quick and easy as possible.
– Keep surveys to 5 minutes or less.
– Offer an incentive for completing the survey.
– Promote the survey verbally, with signage, via email etc.

Manage survey takers by:

– Providing templates, sample questions and detailed procedures.
– Assigning restrooms and dates/times to survey.
– Reviewing procedures and answering questions.

For optimal results:

– Gather ~30 responses per restroom location.
– Conduct surveys at high traffic times when possible.
– Repeat at different days and times to control variables.

Tap into Third Party Market Research

Have an alert set up for web research about ‘Restroom Surveys’. This means you will find data of current studies and will likely include:

  • Bradley Corporation
  • CleanLink
  • PR Newswire
  • FacilitiesNet

Analyzing Survey Findings to Uncover Actionable Insights

With data gathered from on the spot feedback and market research, now conduct careful analysis to uncover trends and patterns. For example, public health surveys have shown huge changes in germ consciousness since COVID. Handwashing habits and attitudes to single-stall restrooms have also changed. The hard work now begins!

  • Quantify results: by assigning point values to rating scale questions and calculating averages. This allows easy comparisons across locations, times and other variables.
  • Graph data: visually in charts to quickly spot high and low performers.
  • Compare restroom ratings to expose consistent issues versus one-off events.
  • Look at usage levels: Lower scores may be more acceptable in a rarely used restroom.
  • Break down the data in different ways such as by restroom, location, time of day, user gender etc.
  • Read verbatim comments to find common themes. Word clouds can summarize top phrases.
  • Review photos submitted to confirm reported issues.
  • Share top-line findings in reports to leadership teams, custodial departments and other stakeholders.
  • Prioritize and recommend solutions for the biggest problem areas revealed in the data.
  • With a clear analysis process, your survey results will spotlight specific areas for improvement.
  • Keep abreast of other national survey data – for example those by the Bradley Corporation – (Healthy Handwashing Survey.

Turning Survey Insights into Restroom Improvements

Dirty restrooms will kill your business and a bad restroom experience will cause customer defection. The real payoff comes when you take action on survey findings to optimize your facilities and improve restroom cleanliness. Some of the changes likely made because of survey results include:

  • Implement fixes for broken fixtures, clogged drains, malfunctioning dispensers etc.
  • Upgrade cleaning procedures to address dirty surfaces, mirrors, stalls etc – remember that restroom cleanliness is critical.
  • Improve supply chain management to maintain proper inventory of consumables.
  • Repair accessibility issues like broken handicap rails, unavailable big stalls etc.
  • Enhance maintenance plans to minimize downtime of toilets, sinks, dryers etc.
  • Refresh dated decor with new colors, materials, lighting etc per surveys.
  • Communicate changes to custodial staff, managers and restroom users.
  • Confirm fixes with follow up surveys after issues remediated.
  • Recognize top performers like consistently highly rated restrooms.
  • Revisit lowest performers to continue elevating their scores.

This all means that with a user-focused commitment to continuous improvement, your restroom survey initiative will deliver tangible results across your facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions about Restroom Surveys

Here are answers to some common questions facility managers have about conducting restroom surveys:

Q: How often should we survey our restrooms?

A: Quarterly surveys are recommended to monitor conditions over time. Conduct ad hoc surveys as needed to investigate emerging issues.

Q: Who should administer the surveys?

A: Use a dedicated team like custodial managers, or hire a third-party survey firm for consistent professional administration.

Q: What questions should be asked on the survey?

A: Objective ratings of cleanliness, function, consumables etc. Open-ended comments to detail issues. See examples above.

Q: How do users take the survey?

A: Intercept surveys, comment cards, text messages, emailed links or via a device stationed in the restroom all work well. Offer incentives.

Q: How many responses do we need?

A: Gather approximately 30 surveys per restroom location for statistical significance.

Q: What’s the best way to analyze the data?

A: Quantify results, visualize in charts, break down by attributes, highlight patterns in verbatim comments etc.

Q: How do we follow up on the findings?

A: Implement fixes, improve procedures, upgrade supplies, communicate changes and confirm improvements with follow-up surveys.

In Summary

Well-designed restroom surveys provide the concrete data facility managers need to proactively identify issues and improve these important spaces that impact users every day. Following best practices highlighted above will lead to actionable insights that drive measurable upgrades to public bathrooms. With clean, comfortable and fully-functional restrooms, businesses enjoy higher customer satisfaction, universities boost recruitment and retention, and other organizations see improved stakeholder experiences across the board.

Sources and References

  • ISSA. “8 Steps to Survey Success: A How-to Guide to Using Surveys Effectively.” February 15, 2018.
  • Bobrick. “Washroom Surveys: Why Are They Important and How Are They Done?
  • Harris Interactive. “Public Restroom Survey.” Survey of  American adults conducted on behalf of SCA Tissue North America. January 14, 2015.
  • Cleaning and Maintenance Management. “Surveying Your Facility: The Advantages of Self-Assessment.” August 23, 2011.
  • Causey, Emily. “How Often Should Businesses Do Restroom Inspections?” Texasjanitorsupply.com. December 27, 2018.


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