With over 54,000 independent building service contractors (BSCs) in the United States who clean and maintain commercial, industrial and institutional facilities, contract cleaners make up the largest end users of janitorial and housekeeping products. In an effort to keep building cleanliness top priority, BSCs often seek out opportunities to enhance customer satisfaction within the entire building.
With over 70 percent of Americans having had a particularly unpleasant experience in a restroom due to the condition of a facility, it isn’t a surprise that BSCs focus heavily on finding ways to improve restroom cleanliness. Common issues found in facility restrooms range from dirty floors to clogged toilets to leaking and malfunctioning soap dispensers. In addition to a poor appearance, dirty, broken or empty soap or sanitizer dispensers can lead to health implications.
To avoid these issues, it’s essential to understand the challenges BSCs face, as well as what types of solutions are available. SC Johnson Professional, through its Pro Cleaning Council, recently surveyed more than 230 BSCs about their soap and dispenser purchasing habits, as well as their hopes for future dispensing systems and innovations.
The Scoop on Soaps and Sanitizers
Conducted in October 2017, the Pro Cleaning Council study found that the two most common types of soap purchased by BSCs were foam soap and antibacterial hand cleansers. Ninety-four percent of respondents have purchased foam soap, 85 percent have purchased antibacterial hand cleanser and 70 percent have purchased foam hand sanitizer.
Furthermore, 83 percent of BSCs stated they are very likely to purchase antibacterial hand soap within the next six to 12 months. Very few participants (6 percent) were somewhat unlikely or very unlikely to purchase antibacterial hand soap due to several reasons, including:
• Recent media coverage on potential impact of antibacterial hand soap on the environment.
• Satisfaction with their current non-antibacterial hand soap and see no reason to change.
• Preference to provide hand sanitizers in addition to washing hands.
The Dose on Dispensers
Some of today’s dispensers come in multiple shapes, sizes and colors, and feature advanced technology to provide optimal hand hygiene. However, not all dispensers are the same. A recent study by the University of Arizona found that popular refillable bulk soap dispensers can become a haven for bacteria, contaminating soap and defeating the purpose of hand washing. Using sealed soap cartridges can minimize the risk of contamination. Utilizing antimicrobial technology, such as BioCote, also helps reduce the number of germs on soap dispensers.
The survey delved deeper into what BSCs are looking for when it comes to soap dispensers. The Pro Cleaning Council found that BSCs prefer touch-free counter mounted soap dispensers because they are known to limit the spread of germs. In addition, BSCs also look for the following qualities in soap dispensers:
• Long battery life. BSCs seek dispensing systems with a long battery life to limit clogging and promote consistent use.
• Motion sensors. In addition to long battery life, BSCs seek dispensers that have sensitive motion sensors to ensure product is dispensed properly and accurately. Dispensers with lights or notifications to signal low battery and/or low product are a plus.
• Ease of use. For both the customer and BSC, ease of use is top priority. A dispenser should be simple to use and easy to refill and clean.
• Dripless. Some respondents reported drip issues, resulting in a messy floor or counter and wasted product. The survey showed that dispensers with drip trays or that have dripless designs were highly desired.
• Reliability. BSCs want to be able to count on the products they provide to customers, stating that a reliable, low maintenance and long-lasting dispenser is key to them and their customers.
The ability to see how much product remains within the dispenser, such as a sight window, was another common request among BSCs. Survey participants also revealed that they search for dispensers with a sleek, professional look and unique design features.
Most dispensers are available in a simple white or black, often blending into the background of a restroom. However, there are companies that offer dispensers in a rainbow of color options, as well as offer unique branding opportunities. Some dispensers allow you to feature custom logos or images and insert text, such as a company tagline or school motto.
The 2017 survey asked responders to reveal innovations they’d like to see in dispensing systems. Some common themes included:
• Dispensers that include a notification system when product is running low.
• BSCs would like to find more transparent dispensers with highly visible soap/sanitizer levels. Currently, some dispensers feature built-in visible indicators to notify facility managers when refills and batteries require replacement to simplify maintenance.
• Features to help prevent over-dispensing product and reduce leaks or spills onto floors.
• The survey found that BSCs seek dispensers that reduce product waste and spills. With bulk dispensers, leaks and spills are more common. To limit these issues, look for sealed dispensing systems that are “closed” and use a sealed soap cartridge with the exact amount of product required. This helps control both usage and cost as well as reduce product waste. Additionally, some dispensers now feature non-drip mechanisms to ensure no mess.
• Sleek and better-looking designs.
• Soap and sanitizer dispensers don’t have to be boring and white. Today, some dispensers feature chrome designs and come in an assortment of colors to help fit a company’s branding and image.
While the results of the study showed that many BSCs are currently satisfied with their soap, sanitizer and dispensing needs, there is always room for improvement. With the right product and dispenser, BSCs can add the finishing touches on a clean, pleasant and well-maintained facility.
Isabelle Faivre is the U.S. Vice President of Marketing at SC Johnson Professional.
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