By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
You have to pay us! (?!?)
The sign in its entirety:
Restrooms for CUSTOMERS ONLY. AND You will be charged $1.00 if you use the restroom before you order!"
This a real sign posted on the front door of an Albuquerque Old Town restaurant. This soon-to-be customer (who didn't need to use the restroom), turned on her heel and walked the other way. (And, how often do we need to - um - take a bio break, during a long day of shopping, before we can focus on ordering?)
Yet another example of a business viewing people as a problem, not an opportunity. Now, I can understand that the restaurant may be dealing with a large number of tourists, who may take "advantage" of the restroom facilities, but, charging me a $1.00 even when I plan on spending $$ there? And, how do they police it? Send the wait staff into the rooms and see if they recognize shoes under the stalls? Oh, c'mon.
This sort of negativity drives people (like me) away....never smart even in the best of times...and many businesses in Old Town have suffered badly over the past couple of years, with a drastic drop in money-spending tourists. Somehow I don't think a horde of unruly restroomers is a big problem these days...
So, how could potential restroom abuse be turned into an opportunity?
"Clean restrooms! Use ours and receive a 15% discount on your order!"
"We love our customers, especially Moms! Clean restrooms and sparkling baby-changing station!"
Yep, this is encouraging people to use the restroom - which can be problematic...but they're also coming in. Once they're in the door, they could become customers, if only for a cold drink and appetizer to go, as they continue to walk around Old Town. (Have menus prominently posted and make it easy for people to buy something quick and tasty.)
At the very minimum, have a polite sign, "Sorry, we have small restrooms, for customers only. The nearest public facilities are at:_________" AND post that next to a sign talking about a great special of the day. ("Tell us you're a new customer here for a bio break and get a free appetizer!") Sure, that's sorta silly, but it's human. We do all, after all, need restrooms.
P.S. Clean restrooms are a HUGE selling point for women. Think about it. We've got to sit down. And, clean baby changing stations? Even bigger! (Moms, chime in here.)