Michael Tanguay

By: Michael Tanguay on July 1st, 2022

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How to Avoid A Commercial Paper Towel Dispenser Stock Out

Dispenser stockouts are a common plight of commercial restrooms, especially during periods of high traffic.

Commercial restroom dispensers should be stocked with paper towels and toilet tissue for the people in your building to use.

Since washing your hands is an essential part of using the restroom, having access to paper towels will help make sure that the risk of spreading germs in your restroom is reduced.

If your guests enter your restroom and there are no paper towels or toilet tissue, they won’t have any way to dry their hands or use the restroom.

Not only does this create an unsanitary environment, putting your guests at risk, but it also can lead to increased complaints.

Many facility managers assume that the only way to minimize out of stock dispensers in the commercial restroom is to have janitorial staff continuously monitoring the restroom.

Frequent checks can reduce the risk of an out-of-stock dispenser, but having your staff stop to check your restrooms will lower their productivity.

And, even with your janitorial staff checking your restrooms often, they may not be able to catch every stock out before your guests complain.

Luckily, there are commercial restroom paper dispensers that can help reduce the frequency of stockouts in your restroom. These dispensers are designed with features that increase productivity and lower the chance of costly premature changeouts.

In this article and video, we’ll explain the features that a dispenser can come equipped with in order to help reduce the frequency of commercial paper towel and toilet tissue stockouts.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of A Stock Out?

Commercial restroom dispenser stockouts can be avoided by addressing the 3 most common causes. 

If you and your cleaning staff are able to address a stockout before it happens, you can reduce the risk of having to deal with complaints caused by one.

The 3 most common causes of restroom dispenser stockouts include:

  1. Incorrect Cleaning Schedule
  2. Busy Janitorial Staff/Infrequent Restroom Checks
  3. After-Hours Restroom Maintenance

1. Incorrect Cleaning Schedule

In most facilities, the cleaning team will follow a schedule that tells them how often to check the restroom. A good schedule will account for the unique traffic patterns, normal usage, and dispenser capacity.

Having the right schedule will also allow your staff to complete cleaning in different areas in your building without having to worry about stockouts or increased guest complaints.

The schedule that your cleaning team follows for your facility may change depending on the time of day and the amount of traffic.

[Related: Download our FREE restroom cleaning poster! Hang on your janitorial carts or maintenance closets to make sure your team is following the right steps.]

14 Step Restroom Chart Image

Without an idea of when the busy times in your facility are, your janitorial staff could be checking restrooms when your dispensers have remaining towels or tissue and actually neglecting them during periods of high traffic.

In most facilities, the periods of higher traffic occur around the same time every day.

For example, if your restroom is usually busier during a lunch rush, your staff should make sure the restroom is stocked correctly before and after the normal busy period.

This will allow for higher productivity during cleaning shifts and avoid premature towel or tissue changeouts which could otherwise lead to wasted product. 

Premature change-outs occur when your cleaning staff replaces the product before it needs to be replaced. This will require your business to purchase more paper towels and toilet tissue to account for the unused product being wasted.

2. Busy Janitorial Staff/Infrequent Restroom Checks

Your janitorial staff is responsible for performing cleaning tasks in your entire facility, not just your restrooms.janitor cleaning high touch point

In some facilities, the cleaning team will be too busy with maintaining other parts of the facility and performing necessary cleaning tasks to constantly check the restrooms. 

When your staff is busy performing other cleaning tasks, they will not be able to devote the time needed to continuously check each dispenser to see if they’re ready to be restocked. 

In restrooms that aren’t checked frequently enough, your janitorial team will likely receive more frequent complaints about its state.

Complaints require staff to stop their current task to address the issue in your restroom, which will lower their janitorial productivity.

3. After-Hours Restroom Maintenance

It’s not uncommon for commercial facilities to use cleaning contractors to maintain the restrooms in their facilities.

These teams tend to come in at the end of the day, once everyone has left, to perform the necessary cleaning and maintenance procedures. 

In these cases, the dispenser in the facility’s public restroom would need to be able to last throughout the entire work day before needing a change out. 

If the dispensers in your facility run out of paper towels or toilet tissue, there may not be anyone on site to refill them.

How Do You Prevent Paper Dispensers Stockouts?

While one way to prevent a paper dispenser stockout is to maintain a proper, regular maintenance schedule, there are other ways to combat stockouts that don’t prohibit worker productivity. 

Having an incorrect cleaning schedule and busy janitorial staff can both be combated with new, innovative restroom paper dispensers.

Commercial paper towel and toilet paper dispensers can be equipped with:

By choosing a dispenser with some or all of these features, you can reduce the number of complaints you receive from your guests.

High-Capacity Dispensing System

High-capacity paper dispensers hold larger rolls of paper towels or toilet paper when compared to standard dispensers. There are high-capacity paper towel dispensers that can hold 250% more paper towels to increase the amount of time between stockouts.127137021

That means that each refill for a high-capacity system will offer more uses than a regular-sized refill and help reduce maintenance time spent changing the product.

In the case of toilet tissues, some high-capacity toilet tissue dispensers can hold up to 6x more paper product than a standard dispenser. 

For high-traffic facilities, this is beneficial because your paper towel and toilet paper dispensers will need fewer refills when handling the same amount of guests. Your dispensers will be able to last through periods of high traffic without becoming empty, reducing complaints and allowing your staff to clean areas of higher demand.

Check out this chart to see a comparison of high-capacity and other dispensers: 

Dispenser/Product Type

Average Capacity

High-Capacity Folded Towel (Multifold)

1200 Towels

Standard Folded Towel (Multifold)

300 Towels

High-Capacity Roll Towel

2100 Dispenses

Standard Capacity Roll Towel

250 Dispenses

High-Capacity Toilet Tissue

2-4 coreless rolls

Standard Capacity Toilet Tissue

2 standard rolls

Visible Product Level Aids

Commercial paper towel and toilet tissue dispensers can display product levels without having to open them. If your janitorial team can clearly see when a dispenser is empty, they can complete restroom checks in less time.

These dispensers are able to reduce the amount of time it takes for your cleaning staff to check how much product is left in your dispenser using visual aids like:

These features can help you and your staff avoid premature changeouts and wasted product that occurs when they try to keep your restroom stocked.

In some facilities, the janitorial staff may try to change the paper towels and toilet tissue every time they check the dispensers to avoid having to check them again. 

Using these aids, your staff can not only see if a certain dispenser is empty but if it’s low so they can make a note that they need to come back to recheck the product levels or use the stub roll feature, if available.

What Is A Stub Roll?

The stub roll feature restricts the use of a smaller roll until the larger roll is used up. Instead of throwing out a paper towel or toilet tissue roll that is almost finished, you staff can use it as a stub roll.

This will allow your staff extra time to complete cleaning tasks in other areas of your facility before they need to change out your paper products.

See-Through Window/Translucent Containers

There are commercial paper towel dispensers that have translucent refill containers that will allow your staff to see how much product is left. window_shade_paper_goods3

Checking the product levels in your dispensers should only take a few seconds. Your staff should ideally be able to see whether they need to spend more time refilling or changing out products with just a glance.

In dispensers that have visible product levels, staff can use features like see-through windows or product level windows on the outside of the device to see when your dispensers need to be refilled.

These systems prominently display the amount of paper towels or toilet tissue left in the dispenser so that your staff doesn’t need to open the system to see when it’s time to change out the refill. 

Lights That Indicate Low Product

Some dispensers don’t have a see-through color but are equipped with a light that indicates when your dispenser needs to be refilled.

On most dispensers, the low product light is a red LED indicator located on the front so it can be seen easily by your cleaning staff. 

Like with the see-through feature, your staff can assess whether or not your dispenser needs to be changed with just a glance. This comes in handy during quick, routine restroom checks.

IoT-Enabled Dispensers

IoT, or the Internet of Things, is a cloud-based system that connects a physical device to an online program. The system allows you to see data, like product levels, in real-time. 

Interested in learning more about the benefits of IoT-enabled dispensers and exploring the best systems on the market?

Check out our full article:

Smart Restroom Management Systems: The Benefits of IoT + Top-Rated Systems 

Instead of frequently having to physically look for low product levels, jams, or battery outages, your staff can check your restroom dispensers using an app on your internet-connect devices. Your staff can also be alerted to low product levels in order to avoid outages in your restrooms.

These apps are configured to tell your staff exactly which dispenser is running low and what service it needs. That enables them to work seamlessly to keep your entire facility cleaned without needing to physically check the dispensers in your restroom as often.

This will allow them to continue cleaning without having to routinely check on the restrooms.

Another benefit of using an IoT-enabled device is the ability to learn the patterns of the people that use your facility’s restrooms. The apps for these IoT-enabled commercial dispensers can track the work logs, foot traffic, and product usage that each dispenser in your restrooms receives.

Understanding traffic patterns and product usage will help your cleaning staff fine-tune their restroom cleaning routine. They will be able to use the insight provided by the app to know how often to check and refill your commercial dispensers. 

For example, if the dispenser data is showing that around mid-day, two of your restrooms usually need to be refilled, your staff can make sure that those dispensers are properly stocked.

Adopting a new routine based on the data provided by an IoT-connected dispenser is effective at reducing the number of complaints your facility’s restroom will receive.


Final Thoughts

Avoiding a dispenser stock out can be as easy as choosing a dispenser that helps you and your cleaning staff maintain a well-stocked restroom.

A high-capacity dispensing system, visible dispenser product levels, or IoT-enabled dispensers will help enhance staff productivity and reduce the amount of time spent checking the restroom.

These dispensers are designed to reduce the number of checks needed by your janitorial staff, so they can complete their cleaning tasks in other areas. Innovative features, like the ones listed above, make commercial paper towel and toilet tissue dispensers efficient and allow each change out to be completed at the right time.

Ready to upgrade your dispensers and help your staff do more during their cleaning shifts? EBP and other Imperial Dade locations have a wide range of restroom maintenance products for use in your facility.

If you are located in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, or Canada, contact an EBP Specialist today for a review of your restroom program to find the best dispenser for keeping your restroom stocked.

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About Michael Tanguay

Michael Tanguay is a Sales Representative for EBP Supply Solutions, with over 25 years of experience in helping customers tackle their foodservice packaging and commercial cleaning challenges. Since 2012, he has specialized in sustainable foodservice packaging alternatives to help customers increase their food and beverage sales while being more environmentally conscious, and customizing cleaning and sanitation programs using green cleaning products to help lessen their company’s environmental footprint.