Prior to the pandemic, it would have been rare to consider a hand sanitizer dispenser as a critical element in providing a best-in-class tenant experience. Today, a hand sanitizer dispenser is the norm. In many cases, it is the first thing a tenant or visitor will see and engage with when they walk into a lobby, and continue to experience throughout their day. It’s clear the demand – as well as a tenant’s expectation for hand sanitizer – will be here for the long-term. Thus, the need for commercial real estate leaders to reconsider what hand sanitizer means for tenant experience, operational budgets, interior design strategy, and overall property aesthetic is paramount as more and more hand sanitizer dispenser solutions, products, and brands enter the market– as well as a growing need for more touchless experiences in the workplace to match modern health and safety protocols.
Hand sanitizer dispensers are the latest architectural element in an elevated tenant experience
In nearly every public indoor environment you enter today, you’ll see and use hand sanitizer. Like never before, hand sanitizer dispensers and PPE-related items (i.e. plexiglass walls, complimentary masks, detailed public health signage, and socially distanced wayfinding elements) are the first touchpoints commercial real estate developers have with their tenants and that their tenants have with their employees coming back to the office.
As interior design teams and brand, marketing, and operations leaders think about this new experience and product category, it is clear that the conversation for hand sanitizer is rapidly evolving from an immediate need in response to the pandemic to a long-term, permanent, and intentional design element. Soon, hand sanitizer will be a symbol of what a brand stands for and how it is perceived by people in the same way that bathroom fixtures, appliances, furniture, and sustainability elements are. Ultimately, hand sanitizer dispensers are rapidly shifting from a basic commodity to an architectural furnishing, prompting brand, design, and operations teams to be prepared to act fast and remain informed as they plan long-term investment strategies into this new product category.
Do your due diligence and critically analyze your prospective hand sanitizer partner’s supply chain
With the increased number of hand sanitizing brands entering the market, it is extremely important to ask the right questions to ensure the quality of the product you are purchasing and to have confidence that it will be available for years to come. For example, some questions to consider asking your prospective partner include:
- How long have they been in business, and how have they handled a sell-out of products in the past? (i.e. do they have a process for taking pre-orders or assembling waitlists in the case that demand spikes again and they sell out?)
- Are the hand sanitizing products registered with the FDA and are they produced in an FDA-compliant facility? What lab testing has been done to date? Especially important to consider are in-vitro kill tests and stability tests.
- Where are the products manufactured and are there any potential issues that could prohibit the manufacturer from having refill supplies when you need them?
- Are there any restrictions for how much product you can order at one time? And what is the shelf life?
Lastly, if you are purchasing hand sanitizer through a distributor, are you confident that the sanitizer dispenser refills will be available when you need them? (For example, through Touchland’s integration with the HqOs operating system, you can purchase sanitizer anytime you need it directly through Touchland’s ecommerce portal designed specifically for businesses.) What type of relationship does the distributor have with the manufacturer? Are they importing or is the manufacturer US-based? Does the distributor have an exclusive agreement with a single brand or multiple brands? Getting answers to these questions early on can inform your long-term strategy for procurement and a sustainable supply of product in increasingly challenging times.
Plan your operational budget on a cost per dose basis and think long term 12-24 months
Given the current usage rates of hand sanitizer in public places and the projected usage rates for years to come, it’s important to evaluate your cost over the long-term. Upfront cost is understandably an important consideration, but modeling 12-24+ month proformas to better understand what to expect in terms of the cost of sanitizer refills is crucial. This modeling will help you compare apples to apples when reviewing products and solutions from multiple hand sanitizer brands.
While many hand sanitizer brands will use gel or foam sanitizing solutions, Touchland designed a liquid based sanitizing formula that is not only known for its hydrating properties, but is also nearly twice as cost-efficient as a gel or foam solution. This efficiency is measured in terms of doses per refill cartridge (a liquid-based formula like Touchland includes up to 2,000 doses of sanitizer per 1-liter refill cartridge, whereas gel or foam formulas typically averages between 1,000 – 1,300 doses for the same volume). So if you simply evaluate the cost of a refill by volume and not by the total number of doses, you may find yourself underestimating your total cost over a period of time even if the upfront cost is lower.
Consider the underlying technology
With the end goal is to have a reliable hand sanitizer dispenser for your property, there are many technology specifications to consider that can help you build confidence in your purchase decision. This includes:
- How does the dispenser physically dispense hand sanitizer formula? Does it use a gear-based system, magnetic, or something else? What is the likelihood that a system will break or wear quickly? This is especially important with the increase in usage of the system by tenants and visitors.
- Does the dispenser have a way to inform your operations and maintenance teams when the refill needs to be replaced? For example, Touchland’s dispenser can connect to your local WiFi network and pair with a phone app that notifies you when the refill needs to be replaced or when the batteries need to be replaced.
Measure your success
An investment into hand sanitizer that elevates your employees’ experience will undoubtedly be scrutinized, especially with the fear and hesitation associated with returning to work. Employees will be looking for comfort and safety, but much like they are with other furnishings and amenities, will be excited by beautiful design and a formula they can use many times per day without their hands drying. Ultimately, as we all return to work, hand sanitizer will be as important as a redesign of the workspace and a revised weekday work schedule to accommodate social distancing and new norms. Thus, CRE teams making the decision should remain mindful of the fact that the right solution will not only be cost effective, but also aligned with your organization’s brand and culture. Hand sanitizer will undoubtedly contribute to the modern, touchless experience that CRE tenants, visitors, and employees expect.
About the Author
Ed Krafcik is the Head of Revenue and Acting Chief of Staff at Touchland. Touchland was founded in 2017 with the vision to reinvent hand sanitizer by blending beauty, skincare, and hygiene. Touchland is the first hand sanitizer brand to be awarded Allure’s Best of Beauty Award and was recently nominated as a finalist for Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award for the Power Mist and Kub. Their real estate partners today include Beacon Capital Partners, Vornado Realty Trust, Jamestown, RXR Realty, Hines, and many more.
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