Whether a distributor is responding to an inquiry or initially reaching out, Allen says it’s important to get an idea of an end user’s setup beforehand. In doing so, distributors can not only make a more educated recommendation on an optimal setup, but the interaction gives end users the peace of mind that distributors have a vested interest in the facility as a whole and didn’t come in with a predetermined suggestion based on price.

“I try to find out what their current program is first, and whether they selected it themselves or inherited it. If it turns out they inherited a program, they may not have previously thought about it and could use some background discussion on different options,” says Allen. “From there I want to find out why exactly they’re changing. Oftentimes it’s been a direct response to the pandemic and promoting better hygiene, which opens the avenue to discussing the benefits of touch-free setups with closed cartridge refills, for example.”

Regardless of the final decision to go with manual dispensers or touch-free, Allen recommends encouraging customers to have a universal setup throughout the facility to simplify both installation, maintenance and training for the custodial staff.

“The exception would be for facilities that are adopting both soap and hand sanitizer dispensers,” he adds. “In those instances, color coding and/or labeling them consistently throughout the facility will make it easier for custodial staff and occupants alike. When you factor in pandemic fatigue, some occupants will look for an excuse to ignore a dispenser, so it’s critical to minimize any confusion.”

From there, distributors should continue a hands-on approach with the customer during the installation process, giving an in-person rundown on basic mechanics and potential maintenance scenarios. Phil Carrizales, director of the Hygiene and Facilities Solutions division of Acme Paper & Supply Co., Inc., Savage, Maryland, recommends having members of the custodial team load product into the dispensers once the installation is complete.

In most instances, a one-and-done training session will suffice, but as an added touch of service, distributors should also offer follow-up sessions or instructional videos that are often created by the manufacturers of the dispensers.

“Many of the walkthrough videos are available for free on YouTube channels and even offer the instructions in multiple languages,” notes Carrizales.

To help close a sale and provide extra assurance to the customers, Schneringer says offering some of the dispensers at no charge along with free installation can solidify customer loyalty. In return, the customer will typically agree to work with the distributor on refills.

“The dispensers offered at no charge are typically the latest and greatest with functionality, which makes them the best overall value in operation for customers — whether it be touch-free technology, portion control, or the most effective formulations,” he says.

Even if the primary objective for a facility visit is to install dispensers, Carrizales points out that any trip to a customer is an opportunity to discover other potential needs. Inspections should start from the second a distributor walks on a property, but for the restroom in particular, Carrizales says an outdated soap dispenser can be a telltale sign for other upgrades.

“It’s important to never walk in with blinders on,” he says. “Upgrade opportunities are abundant and analyzing the paper dispensers can be a great starting point since you’re already there for soap. Are they currently single-roll, when a multiple-roll setup could eliminate or reduce customer complaints for product outages? Chances are they are all ears when it comes to any opportunity to improve labor efficiencies and occupant satisfaction.”

Schneringer agrees, noting that WAXIE has coined the term “restroom refresh” — both directly with clients and on their website — in which they explore cost-effective ways to improve both the hygiene and overall appearance of a restroom. It can start with an upgraded touch-free soap dispenser and evolve into other affordable makeover options, such as partitions for improved privacy or signage.

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