When buyers are choosing hand dryers, manufacturers say speed and sound far outweigh all other considerations. That said, certain facilities also place a premium on hygiene. This is particularly true in healthcare settings, but can also be important in schools and Class-A office buildings.

Some buyers will pay more for a machine that includes a HEPA filter, which can remove 99.95 percent of particulate from the air.

"Bathrooms are quite susceptible to having particulate floating around in the environment," says Hall. "If we were to concentrate all of the particulate that was in the air and direct it straight onto clean hands, it would be unhygienic. We think it's important to take out particulate and remove bacteria and viruses from the air so you know the air that's used to dry your hands is clean and purified."

In cases where hygiene is a purchasing consideration, it's also important to offer a hand dryer that is made from easy-clean materials, like stainless-steel. There are a few other issues that may affect which models a distributor chooses to sell.

For example, it's important to offer dryers that meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. That means thinner machines that don't protrude off the wall by more than 4 inches, potentially impeding the path of someone in a wheelchair or with another impairment.

Retrofitting a hand dryer to meet ADA rules requires a recess kit (plus labor costs). Those expenses can easily double the price of the original dryer, and may cost more than a compliant one would have.

"ADA is being considered everywhere else, and it should be taken just as seriously in the restroom," says Demertzis. "You're doing your customers justice by selling them a product that is ADA compliant."

As with almost everything, price is also important to many buyers. Most customers will weigh the features and benefits of a hand dryer right along with the cost.

"Price isn't a factor in all cases, but it can be important, especially with larger installations when you are looking at many units," says Velguth. "Customers like choices, regardless if it's a hand dryer or another item, so it's a good idea to offer multiple price points."

Finally, distributors will want to choose products from manufacturers they trust.

"For distributors and their customers, customer service should be weighed into the decision making," says Gagnon. "I'd want to sell a hand dryer that will work, and one that the manufacturer will stand behind me and the product if it doesn't."

Although hand dryers may not account for much of a distributors' annual sales, they are an important complement to paper offerings. If distributors will only carry a few models, they should select based on what will best address their customers' top concerns. That means making sure to stock fast, quiet and hygienic options, as well as allowing for multiple price points.

Becky Mollenkamp is a freelance writer based in St. Louis.

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Noise A Factor For Hand Dryers