A bright idea: Visionstate lets you know when the “loo” needs attention
Edmonton, Alberta, September 30, 2016 – Have you ever walked into a public restroom and were horrified by the unsightly mess that greeted you? You are not alone! There are thousands of other people who have had the very same experience, often leaving the establishment in disappointment or disgust, because, after all, that restaurant did have great service and excellent food.
The costs of a filthy restroom, according to Restaurant Hospitality Magazine, are much higher than originally thought. Not only does a poor restroom experience directly impact the bottom line, but it also negatively affects the company’s on-line reputation. New research now shows that an unkempt restroom actually dissuades customers as well as staff from washing their hands properly, creating food safety issues for restaurants.
The list of reasons why restroom cleanliness is paramount is extensive, but only recently has technology been incorporated to fix the problem. WANDA, a tablet-sized smart device, developed by Visionstate, is designed to be mounted at the entrance to public restrooms in order to monitor and report on cleaning and maintenance activities, essentially replacing the antiquated paper-based system.
WANDA also provides management with detailed analytics about cleaning activities and supplies, and requires staff to log into the system while on site, introducing documented accountability. The very presence of WANDA demonstrates the company’s commitment to cleanliness and customer service.
The findings were revealed in a study that was conducted in a collaboration between Visionstate and the University of Alberta Department of Psychology, which showed that customers’ perception of clean restrooms increases substantially by the presence of WANDA, which prominently displays the time and date of the last cleaning. Customers were also more likely to flag issues using the device, the study concluded, because WANDA is both anonymous and immediate.
But as convincing as the benefits of WANDA are, there have been challenges along the way, notes Visionstate President John Putters.
“We have a very robust system of notifying facility managers that a particular restroom has issues, using cellphones or pagers,” he explains. “While that works in most situations, it presents a challenge in the restaurant industry because cellphone use is often not permitted, or during busy periods there is little or no time to check. That leaves issues in the restroom unattended, perhaps getting worse, and leaving a bad image with customers.”
To address the challenge, the Visionstate team had to find another method to relay to staff that a customer has flagged an issue in the restroom. To accomplish that goal, the company leveraged state of the art WiFi technology and LED light bulbs that could be integrated with WANDA and offer an alternative method for receiving notifications.
Since the LED light can be located anywhere in the facility with WiFi connectivity, the bulb can be placed in more convenient locations within the restaurant, including the kitchen or at the hostess station in the greeting area. When a customer flags an issue on the WANDA, it communicates with the LED light and changes its color. For example, a green bulb is all good, blue represents an issue in the men’s room, pink indicates an issue in the women’s, and mauve represents issues in both restrooms.
“It’s actually kind of cool,” Putters says. “The color selection is vast so it can be configured according to the facility’s needs, but it’s turned out to be a fantastic solution for restaurants that are dedicated to clean restrooms. Employees are notified immediately about restroom issues by the light changing color.”
Visionstate is now offering the new technology as a feature to its WANDA device.