Nigel Crunden, business specialist at Office Depot, examines the importance of the washroom in creating a good first impression for clients and customers.

First impressions are everything. While the majority of hospitality businesses go to great lengths to maintain a sleek and impressive reception area, the same cannot always be said for the washroom. Often a first point of contact for clients and customers alike, a good washroom should balance functionality and design while reflecting the qualities and brand identity of the organisation.

Current washroom trends have seen the increased popularity of classic designs such as exposed copper piping, traditional chain pull toilets and porcelain sinks. Research conducted by revealed that 54% of bathroom renovations completed in the last 12 months included classic features and this is a pattern which has been replicated within hotels and restaurants.

However, while traditional designs can provide an air of class and prestige, what they add in terms of aesthetic value, they may sacrifice in practicality. More intricate vintage bathroom fittings may well be more difficult to clean, service and replace, leading to increased maintenance costs. In some instances, it may be best to opt for a more modern, minimalist washroom solution, where cleanliness, hygiene and long-term usability are easier to guarantee.

For the same reason, ensuring continuity of design across all washrooms in a facility can prove efficient. This way housekeeping and maintenance staff are able to maintain, service and replace parts quickly, which is especially important in areas of high footfall.

When deciding upon the design of washroom facilities, it is important that businesses work to incorporate features that fit in with the company’s clientele and identity. For example, a top-end hotel may wish to inject a luxury feel by providing customers with high quality soaps, hand creams and towels whereas small scale boutiques may look to project a unique quality through the use of one-off furniture pieces and fittings. Conversely, a restaurant/bar could choose to inject personality into the washroom through its artwork and music choices.

Above all, ensuring that the washroom is well-maintained and functional is of key importance. For some customers, one out of order facility or broken hand dryer can create a negative impression, which can be difficult to overcome. It is important that the washroom projects an image which is in-keeping with the firm’s brand as well as the design of the rest of the building. Attention must also be paid to the little touches, such as soaps, towels, rugs and artwork, in order to create an appealing and aesthetically pleasing space that creates a positive first impression.

Formed by the merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax, Office Depot, Inc. is a leading global provider of products, services, and solutions for every workplace – whether your workplace is an office, home, school, or car.