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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Let the Bathroom Blogfest Begin....

Welcome to the Bathroom Blogfest! After all of the anticipation, it is finally upon us! Are you ready? Maria Palma at Customers Are Always is; she just issued Announcing the Bathroom Blogfest '06!

To put this Blogfest into perspective, consider the following questions: How seriously do you take your retail experience? Do you care about the messages your environment projects onto consumers? Do you care whether consumers breathe a sigh of relief upon entering your store or shudder in disgust and escape as quickly as possible? Do you want your customers to tell everyone they know about what a fabulous experience they had, and what impeccable service they encountered at your store? Or, are you indifferent to it all?

Well, if you do take all of this to heart, then you have considered that bathrooms matter. They matter to women and they matter to men. And, clean ones matter particularly to women, your primary consumer. Clean bathrooms send a strong message that you CARE about your consumers, and that you take care of DETAILS.

Even Seth Godin [speaker, author, blogger, entrepreneur, guru] has touched on the matter. Read his post titled How Much Do You Care? with 2 photos that capture the essence of what bathroom details communicate!

Many women helped me gather materials for this BlogFest: within my company and outside of it, within the flooring industry and beyond it. It has been fascinating tracking comments and reactions. Some thought I was off my rocker to address such a subject. Interestingly, when they got to talking about it with their peers, their customers, their mill reps, their friends, and their families, they realized that -often at an unconscious level- they were paying a great deal of attention to the state of bathrooms, and making decisions based on those reactions!

As with most topics, there's a continuum of states:
  • horrific
  • functional
  • clean and functional
  • nice touches
  • fabulous attention
  • over-the-top

In a previous post titled Two Hands I shared my frustration with the Dallas convention center bathrooms that didn't take into account the stuff that people have to lug around and deal with in a public bathroom. Nonetheless, this was a clean and functional bathroom. [We just needed more of them to eliminate the line of women waiting out into the hallways at each break.]

Women have high standards for the bathroom experience. And, when they step into their chief purchasing officer role, beware! Women also fill the role of chief health officer. When they travel with their other constituents -especially children- they become ferocious!

Women expect at a minimum to encounter 'clean and functional'. We are grateful for nice touches and really impressed with fabulous attention. When we are in a store, we tend to scan and get a sense for the overall store. We notice whether the displays are neat and well organized, whether the lighting is pleasant, whether light bulbs are functioning, whether brochures cases are full or empty.... We're looking for clues to confirm whether we can relax in your store, whether we can trust folks in your store, and whether we'll have a good experience. We have enough stress in our lives and we're hoping that you'll alleviate the stress rather than contribute to it. If we can relax, we'll spend time in your store and we'll appreciate that your bathroom reinforces the other positive cues and clues we've gotten.

In researching the topic of bathrooms, I came across this useful site: The Bathroom Diaries which lists the best bathrooms in the world. You can search by country, you can upload locations to your wireless device, read essays, write your own reviews, and take in the beauty of the 2003 Golden Plungers Winners. You can read Mei Mei Thai's article describing the site in When You Gotta Go, Wherever You Are.

I will address one of the winners of the 2003 Golden Plungers during this Bathroom Blogfest! Hint: it's a high-brow experience! I'll also share some horror stories on Hallowe'en, tips on how to improve the bathroom experience, and some very exciting flooring and non-flooring examples.

Stay tuned, and let the Bathroom Blogfest of 2006 begin!

Be sure to visit the other bloggers participating in this week's Bathroom Blogfest ‘06:

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