Qstodian Helps Venues Flush Custodial Costs Down the Drain

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  • Published on September 18, 2019
  • Last Updated October 5, 2021
  • In Startups

At any pitch event, you’ve probably met someone person who said, “the reason I’d invest in this company is that it’s a boring business.” What they really mean is that boring industries usually have consistent demand, and where there’s a stable market, there’s usually predictable revenue. Elon Musk loves this investment thesis so much he named an entire company after it. Well, now St. Louis investors can get behind this philosophy too.

ChecktheQ’s pivot to Qstodian points the founding team in a new direction, towards a profoundly “boring” industry: custodial services management. Qstodian is now targeting an industry that has “largely gone untouched by the data transformation” affecting so many other sectors.

Which is to say that custodial services management can no longer be considered boring at all. Like every human-powered industry, it’s eager to squeeze efficiency, hungry for data, and ripe for disruption by Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

After winning a pitch to solve the visible problem of security line management at airports, the team signed pilots at airports across the country. There, the team discovered a more pressing and less visible issue that also impacts a broader customer base.

It turns out that airports and numerous other types of venues were searching for ways to optimize custodial services, which are a significant and unavoidable cost center. For decades, scheduled cleaning has been devoid of data, inherently inefficient and, as it turns out, these procedural breakdowns create a huge reputation management problem.

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Reputation Management

Venues such as stadiums, airports, and other major tourist attractions have invested heavily in their operations to improve the guest experience and ensure customers will return in the future. However, after serving thousands of people a day, inevitably restroom cleanliness —a key aspect of the customer experience— consistently lets the venue down.

According to Reuters, “4 out of 5 patrons won’t return to a restaurant if the restroom is dirty.” It only takes one customer to mess up a single one-hour time slot for hundreds of other customers, 80% of whom are unlikely to return as a result.

With no means for customers to effectively respond to such events, frustrations are taken out on social media. Unsurprisingly, Yelp reviews and tweets complaining about the state of the restroom isn’t a good look for any venue.

Yet, contrary to the personal assessments and assumptions we make after experiencing such inconveniences, venues do really care about this issue. Perhaps surprisingly too, it’s an issue that is difficult for the venue to control.

Adam Hoffman, CEO of Qstodian, explained to EQ that managing public restrooms is a Sisyphean task. The reason is that in the old and anecdotal data model (i.e. no data), venues commit to a cleaning schedule that can never be truly responsive.

“A restaurant, for instance, will typically check their restroom every hour. A timer will go off on the manager’s phone and they’ll go and check it out. But as we know, all it takes is one person to make a huge mess… and that could have been one minute after they just cleaned it. All of a sudden, you have unhappy customers who for the next hour who are experiencing this.”

Response Management

If you’ve been to the co-working space STL Fusion, or the 555 Washington building downtown, you’ll actually have seen one of the ways Qstodian makes public bathrooms more responsive, as part of the pilot program the startup was operating there. At the washbasins and inside the cubicles there are signs suggesting you text a number if you’re dissatisfied with the state of the facilities, which Hoffman says customers are actually using:

“We had no idea whether people would [use the texting service]; it turns out, they use it a lot… There’s a pretty large proportion of people who, when they run out of toilet paper, you know, they’re either going to tweet about it, or they do something constructive, like send the feedback.”

“And a lot of people are opting to send that feedback. It has this dual benefit of giving customers a productive channel to express their frustration, instead of posting a negative Yelp review, or calling a place out on social media (which a lot of folks do), but it also allows the establishment to be far more responsive in real-time to the needs of their customers.”

Unlike those icky smiley button stations you see at other public restrooms, Qstodian’s text a number is the so-simple-it-should-be-obvious solution. The unspoken secret of those bad Yelp reviews is that many of us are using our phones in the cubicles anyway, so at least we can send feedback on the device we’re okay to touch.

Qstodian’s answer is to channel that modern behavior into a customer resolution opportunity instead, explained Hoffman. “With a feedback mechanism. All it takes is one person speaking up to save hundreds of other customers from experiencing the same inconvenience.”

Qstodian is ready to help you challenge the assumptions you and your customers have about how you’ve been maintaining your restrooms. To find out more about this product and how it could be useful at your venue, visit the Qstodian website http://www.qstodian.co.

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