Washing hands

The rush for toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfectants have dominated pandemic-related headlines at different times over the past year, but they weren’t the only cleaning industry trends that underwent a seismic shift. For facilities that managed to stay open, a complete overhaul on hygiene practices and the way they were branded to occupants was — and continues to be — commonplace.

Perhaps no area underwent more scrutiny than public restrooms — a point of contention for millions long before any social distancing guidelines. Concerns over functioning dispensers, adequate soap and sanitizer supplies, and the minimization of infectious touchpoints suddenly came under more scrutiny than ever before. As a result, distributors have been flooded with inquiries pertaining to touch-free equipment, especially for soap and sanitizer dispensers.

“I've been in the industry 18 years, and I can say that in the last year I've had as many requests for touch-free hand hygiene dispensers as I had in the other 17 years combined,” says Bill Allen, territory manager for Fagan Sanitary Supply, West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.

Yet unlike the toilet paper paranoia and other sources of supply chain shock, distributors agree that the demand for touch-free accessories will be permanent.

“We’ve worked with customers for years regarding touch-free adoption, and it seemed like a trend that was going to go into full-effect over the next five to seven years under normal circumstances,” says Keith Schneringer, Director of Merchandising + Sustainability for WAXIE Sanitary Supply, an Envoy Solutions Company, San Diego. “But with the pandemic, it was almost like living in dog years with the way the demand elevated.”

While the benefits of touch-free dispensers aren’t difficult to sell at face value, distributors can differentiate themselves from competitors through the way they interact with customers, assess the facility for optimal fit, and double as a consultant on supply and maintenance logistics.

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Evaluating Facility Dispenser Setups