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Restroom Alerts Simplified: Cell Phones Beat Costly Monitoring Systems

Dec 28, 2023 | Blog

Key Takeaways:

  • Cleanliness matters: A 2023 study by the American Restroom Association revealed that 73% of customers judge a business based on the cleanliness of their restrooms. A clean restroom directly impacts brand perception, customer satisfaction, and revenue.
  • Smart restroom technology has developed to improve restroom standards but have smart drawbacks: Complex smart monitoring systems, like KOLO Smart Monitoring and Kimberly-Clark’s Intelligent Restroom app, offer limited benefits like occupancy tracking and supply level monitoring but come with hefty installation, maintenance, and data analysis costs.
  • There is a more effective method – mobilize your maintenance: Leveraging the ubiquitous power of cell phones delivers cost-effective, efficient, and scalable restroom alerts – quickly
  • Real-world results: The Denver International Airport saw a 30% reduction in response times and improved user satisfaction after implementing a mobile alert app. The Georgia World Congress Center achieved a 25% decrease in maintenance costs with a similar system.
  • The human touch: Mobile alerts empower staff, leading to faster response times, improved restroom experiences, and fostering a more engaged and responsible facility management.

Introduction:

Maintaining pristine public restrooms in high-traffic facilities like stadiums, colleges, convention centers, and airports is a constant juggling act for senior facility managers. It’s a battle against overflowing supplies, malfunctioning fixtures, and dwindling hygiene products – all impacting customer satisfaction, brand image, and even revenue. Moreover, right now there is the triple threat of low unemployment, high inflation and higher expectations – all putting greater pressures on the business to perform higher than ever.

It is worth underscoring the unemployment rate of 3.7% (with North Dakota at an astonishing 1.4%!). This has three serious impacts to business:

  1. It is harder for facility managers to recruit staff – there is just not enough supply
  2. Way harder to retain staff
  3. Wage pressures to hire and retain staff

No wonder it is harder to keep a public restroom under control.

Retail research consistently shows that filthy, poorly stocked bathrooms turn customers off — and that clean, sanitary bathrooms are even more important to women than to men. Traditionally, reactive maintenance relying on infrequent staff checks and the terrible clipboard often led to frustration for both patrons and staff, and failed to consistently deliver the desired cleanliness standards.

However, a new wave of restroom alert technology is emerging, in the form of a smart restroom management system promising a proactive approach to cleanliness and maintenance. While complex smart monitoring systems (which include restroom alerts) have garnered significant attention, their practicality and effectiveness remain questionable and perhaps only available to those with deeper pockets.

A far simpler, more effective solution lies in our pockets – our ever-present cell phones. By leveraging mobile technology, facility managers can create a network of human sensors, empowered to report issues in real-time, revolutionizing restroom maintenance. The question then becomes:

Do facility managers really need expensive smart monitoring tools to get the scoop?

Current Trends in Restroom Monitoring:

The restroom tech landscape is evolving rapidly to combat these quality challenges. Companies like KOLO Smart Monitoring, Anabon and Kimberly-Clark have developed sensor-laden systems that boast features like smart toilets, real-time toilet paper and hand soap level monitoring, occupancy tracking, and even air quality analysis.

Restroom Smart Monitoring

These systems supposedly deliver an ROI based on:

  1. Reduction in water and maintenance
  2. Improved restroom cleaning schedules
  3. Decreased inventory costs
  4. And a reduction in material waste

While these features seem alluring, a closer look reveals significant drawbacks. Initial set up and ongoing cost are major hurdles, with installation, maintenance, and data analysis incurring hefty investments.

So what’s the cost of a smart monitoring system?

Well it depends on the following:

  1. Features: Basic automation (like sensor-based faucets) vs. advanced analytics (usage tracking, predictive maintenance).
  2. Scale: Number of restrooms and individual stalls.
  3. Integration: Compatibility with existing systems.
  4. Quality: Durability and brand reputation.
  5. Installation: Complexity of installation and integration.
  6. Maintenance: Ongoing support and updates.
This means the initial price range for facility managers is quite varied but of the order of magnitude shown below:
  • Basic Systems: $500 – $2,000 per restroom, includes basic automation like sensor-based faucets, soap dispensers, and hand dryers.
  • Intermediate Systems: $2,000 – $5,000 per restroom, Adds features like occupancy levels, basic usage tracking.
  • Advanced Systems: $5,000 – $20,000+ per restroom. Comprehensive solutions with advanced analytics, proactive maintenance, and full integration with building management systems.

 

Remember that this is just the initial cost. The following also need to be included for the full cost of ownership:

Ongoing Operational Costs of Smart Restroom Monitoring System
  1. Subscription Fees:
    • Service Provider Fees: Monthly or annual fees for software and data analytics.
    • Cloud Storage Fees: For data storage and management.
  2. Maintenance and Support:
    • Regular Maintenance: Costs for routine checks and repairs.
    • Technical Support: Fees for ongoing technical assistance and troubleshooting.
  3. Connectivity Costs:
    • Internet/Data Charges: For continuous data transmission and remote monitoring.
  4. Hardware Upkeep:
    • Sensor Replacements: Periodic replacement of sensors due to wear and tear.
    • Battery Replacements: For wireless sensors, if applicable.
  5. Software Updates:
    • Upgrade Costs: For new features or significant software upgrades.
    • Licensing Fees: If additional software licenses are required over time.
  6. Utility Costs:
    • Increased Electricity Usage: For running the system and its components.
  7. Training Costs:
    • Staff Training: For new employees or when system updates occur.
  8. Compliance and Security:
    • Data Security: Ensuring the system is secure against cyber threats.
    • Regulatory Compliance: Costs associated with maintaining compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

 

So it seems just having smart / contactless fixtures are not enough – Lets unpack this a bit.

The Challenge with Smart Restroom Systems:

Beyond the financial burden, smart systems present further challenges:

  • Infrastructure disruption: Sensor networks require extensive wiring and infrastructure upgrades, often disrupting operations and causing downtime, particularly in older facilities.
  • Data overload: The sheer volume of data collected by these systems can be overwhelming, necessitating dedicated personnel for analysis and interpretation, straining already stretched resources.
  • Limited adaptability: Sensors struggle to address unforeseen issues or complex problems beyond their programmed parameters, relying solely on human intervention for resolution.
  • Additionally, complex configurations and integration issues often plague implementation, requiring specialized technicians and disrupting operations.

And we should not forget the human factor.

Unique Insights: The Human Element in Restroom Maintenance:

While technology plays a crucial role, it’s important to remember that clean restrooms don’t solely depend on sensors and alerts. The human element remains irreplaceable. Mobile technology empowers staff to respond quickly and efficiently to reported issues, fostering a proactive approach to maintenance. This not only ensures prompt resolution of problems but also creates a more engaged and responsible workforce. Staff become invested in maintaining high standards, contributing to a positive cycle of improvement.

Here are some additional benefits of mobile alert systems that prioritize the human element:

  • Improved staff morale and engagement: By empowering staff to resolve issues directly and participate in maintaining cleanliness, mobile systems foster a sense of ownership and responsibility, boosting morale and engagement.
  • Enhanced communication and collaboration: The app allows for seamless communication between staff and managers, facilitating faster response times and effective collaboration in addressing complex problems.
  • Data-driven insights for continuous improvement: User-reported data from the mobile system provides valuable insights into restroom traffic patterns, common issues, and areas for improvement, allowing facility managers to make data-driven decisions and optimize maintenance strategies.

Mobile Technology as a Simpler Solution for Restroom Alerts

Instead of investing in elaborate sensor networks, why not turn every customer and staff member into a potential reporter? Enter mobile technology, user reporting and immediate restroom alerts – plus actionable insights that it so much simpler. Moreover they work on all cell phones – with no app being needed.

Restroom feedback by cell phone process

By leveraging the ubiquitous power of cell phones, facility managers can create a user-friendly program where guests and staff can easily and quickly report cleanliness concerns, hygiene issues, malfunctioning fixtures, and essential restroom supply shortages. This not only eliminates the need for expensive infrastructure but also capitalizes on the inherent awareness and responsiveness of customers, staff and building managers already present in the facility.

Imagine the power of a simple solution (no app needed) where users can:

  • Report overflowing bins, no toilet paper, dirty restroom or clogged toilets with a single tap.
  • Notify cleaning staff about empty soap dispensers or malfunctioning paper towel dispensers.
  • Request additional supplies or report cleanliness concerns in specific stalls.
  • Use the same program for BOTH alerts from restroom users AND inspections by staff.
  • With a much simpler customer experience.

This not only fosters a more proactive approach to maintenance but also empowers customers and staff to become active participants in creating a better restroom experience.

Case Studies and Real-World Applications:

The beauty of mobile alert systems lies in their proven effectiveness across diverse public facilities. Let’s examine two compelling examples:

  • Denver International Airport: With over 120 public restrooms to manage, and higher restroom traffic the Denver International Airport implemented a mobile app system for staff and passengers to report cleanliness and unpleasant odor concerns. The results were impressive: a 30% reduction in maintenance response times and a significant improvement in user satisfaction, as evidenced by passenger surveys.
  • Georgia World Congress Center: Faced with managing a massive facility hosting diverse events, the Georgia World Congress Center implemented a similar mobile app system for both staff and event organizers. The results were equally impressive, with a 25% decrease in maintenance costs due to potential issue identification and resolution, and a notable improvement in event attendee feedback regarding restroom cleanliness and efficiency.

These real-world examples demonstrate the power of mobile restroom alert systems in streamlining operations, reducing costs, insights into restroom usage and enhancing customer satisfaction. They prove that you don’t need complex sensor networks and expensive data analysis to achieve optimal restroom hygiene standards.

Conclusion and Call to Action:

In the race for clean restrooms, the finish line doesn’t belong to the most complex or expensive technology. It belongs to the system that is easiest to implement, most efficient to operate, and most effective in driving results. Mobile restroom alerts systems tick all these boxes, offering a cost-effective, scalable, and user-friendly solution for senior facility managers.

Stop flushing earnings down the can and ditch the smart restroom monitoring system with the sensor headaches. Instead embrace the power of your existing users and janitorial staff AND their cell phones, and prioritize the human element.

Want to see how this is done?

Are you ready to unlock the true potential of your restrooms? Contact us today to learn more about implementing mobile alert systems in your facility.

FAQ: Mobile Restroom Alert Systems

Q: What are the main benefits of using mobile alerts over smart monitoring systems for restrooms?

A: Mobile alerts offer several advantages over smart restroom solutions (we don’t think they are so smart!):

  • Cost-effective: No need for expensive sensor networks, smart toilets or data analysis fees.
  • Easy to implement: Utilize existing mobile devices and user-friendly apps.
  • Scalable: Adapts to any facility size and adjusts to changing needs.
  • Human-centric: Empowers staff and customers to participate in maintaining cleanliness.
  • Data-driven insights: User reports provide valuable data for continuous improvement leading to a pleasant restroom experience.

Q: Can mobile alert systems handle complex issues beyond sensor capabilities?

A: Absolutely! While smart systems primarily address pre-programmed parameters, mobile alerts allow users to report any problems, from clogged drains to broken dispensers. Staff can then address these issues effectively, ensuring comprehensive maintenance. They deliver total control of restroom operations.

Q: Will using a mobile app for restroom alerts raise privacy concerns?

A: User privacy is paramount. Well-designed apps should provide clear data security measures and allow users to control the information they share. Focus on anonymous feedback options and transparent data usage policies.

Q: How can we track the effectiveness of our mobile alert system?

A: Monitor key metrics like response times, issue resolution rates, and user satisfaction feedback. Analyze app usage data to identify common issues and areas for improvement. Regularly evaluate the system’s impact on maintenance costs and customer perception.

Q: Where can I get more information about implementing mobile alert systems in my facility?

A: Contact us directly! We can provide tailored guidance, case studies, and resources to help you navigate the process and find the ideal mobile alert solution for your needs. We also have an ROI calculator to share the benefits.

Additional Resources:

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