Retail Destination spoke to Matt Anderson, CEO of hand dryer supplier Velair, to discuss hygiene standards, consumer trust and hand dryer aesthetic.
Q: Do you think that shopping centres and retail parks are meeting required standards of hygiene or should they be doing more?
I think that everyone should be doing more. If you are in charge of a business with a potentially high footfall, then you have to do the most that you can do, to accommodate and protect that high footfall. There are so many businesses with high footfall that run out of the basic requirements for achieving and maintaining good hygiene. There are many systems on the market now which can monitor footfall, supply trend data and even indicate low stocks of things like soap and paper, in their dispensers. These systems should be looked at by retail outlets to maintain their hygiene standards.
Q: Hygiene standards are important to consumers but not the most glamourous subject in the world – how would you advise retail destinations communicate their cleanliness levels?
They are definitely missing a trick by not discussing their hygiene efforts more, but like many companies in that sector, they need help. You have incentives such as ‘Loo of the year’ who specialise in awarding companies that have done really well with their hygiene protocol, and the way that their business’ cope under the pressure of high footfall and the hygiene issues that that brings. Companies who have won such awards include the likes of McDonald’s, JD Wetherspoon and intu shopping centre’s, and a few other well known brands, who have been able to demonstrate making a hygiene commitment to their clients and can use such awards as promotion and marketing of their hygiene efforts and standards.
Q: What role do hyper-sanitised environments play in building consumer trust?
The first thing to build trust is to actually do what you say you’re going to do. If you’ve said you’ll be sanitising the washroom once every 20 minutes, then that must to be done, and there has to be some sort of proof of that service being undertaken. Even a simple chart outside the washroom stating ‘This washroom is serviced every 20 minutes’, with a tick in a box, and someone’s signature. It just builds confidence that you are actually being looked after in a place where, lets face it, germs are rife.
Q: How important are hand dryers to the cleaning mix?
I believe that hand dryers should be front runners, especially in the retail world, amongst the cleaning mix for hand drying. With hand dryers, you gain a number of factors; number one, you don’t really have to service hand dryers, not in the way you’d need to service paper, and roller towels. Number two, the government gives the green light on any establishment using electric hand dryers, as does the World Health Organisation. And number three, their low run costs. Having a way of delivering the hygienic protocol that the clients require, in a sustainable manner, alongside a significant financial saving, is such a benefit to these destinations.
Q: What advances have been made in hand dryer technology that retailer destinations should be aware of?
The big advance in hand dryers is efficiency, speed of dry, and things like high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration, which remove up to 99.97% of virus’, bacteria and dust. The newest hygiene developments in the hand dryer world are things like air sterilisation and UV, which are additional protocols for getting rid of the bacteria and germs that are naturally in washrooms. What you’ll have, in a very short space of time, is a hand dryer which filtrates everything apart from clean air, which is exactly what the clients want on their hands.
Q: Do you think aesthetic is important when it comes to washroom technology?
When we designed our new range of hand dryers, what we had was something that was going to change the hand drying world in terms of the plug-and-play system allowing for companies to have all the control when replacing or upgrading units themselves, without the need for skilled labour. But they also had to look beautiful, as companies want their washrooms to be a reflection of themselves. I can’t imagine going into ‘Apple’s’ washroom, and it looking terrible; its going to be beautiful; a portrayal of how they want their company to come across, and how they see themselves. We knew we had to have products that delivered everything people want from a hand dryer, and more, all wrapped in a great design, that will look fantastic and that people will actually be quite pleased to use.
Q: When choosing a hand dryer for a retail destination with heavy footfall, what should they look for?
One really simple answer, and to protect their business, is that they need to be looking for a hand dryer that is designed for high usage. We do a number of hand dryers, but only one of them has what we call a ‘brushless motor’. The huge advantage of a brushless motor is that there is no real maintenance to the engine, and it can run for around 5,000 hours. For comparison, hand dryers with brushes run for around 1,000 hours, approximately 3-5 years, after which the brushes have worn away and will need replacing or you will need to replace the hand dryer as a whole. In a typical retail location, you’re looking at around 10 years of hand drying with a brushless motor. In a non-retail location, with lower usage, you’re looking at around 20 years of hand drying.
This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.