How a German entrepreneur turned public toilets into a profitable business
In the 90s, German entrepreneur Hans Wall successfully received the management rights of Berlin’s public toilet and promised the citizens that they will be able to see free and clean public toilets in Berlin.
Many questioned him on his approach and asked how he was going to recover his money since he will not charge usage of the public toilets. In addition, there were also strict rules implemented by the government regarding the management of the public toilets in Berlin.
Undeterred, Hans Wall recruited designers from all over the world to design unique and interesting public toilets depending on the location of the toilets. These designs attracted the interest of the general public as the toilets were no longer dirty and boring. By doing so, Hans Wall managed to transform the image of public toilets in the public eye.
To ensure that the public toilets continue to be clean, Hans Wall insisted that the toilets will need to have self-cleaning mechanisms. Furthermore, he also assembled teams to patrol public toilets in order to ensure the cleanliness of these toilets. His stringent criteria drove up the cost of building these toilets and almost bankrupted his company.
Fortunately, the general public gradually took interest in his project and many tourists were attracted by the unique designs of these toilets. As the popularity of the public toilets increased, brands begin to notice the advertising space outside the toilets. Many companies such as Apple and Chanel started to collaborate with his company to rent advertising spaces outside the public toilets. Subsequently, they started to provide services such as free Wi-Fi, books and other services as well.
The success of Hans Wall’s public toilet project was replicated in 60 over cities in Germany. Hans Wall achieved his promise of providing free and clean public toilets to the citizens and supported numerous social projects. In 1999, he was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit for his contributions to the German society. Today, his company Wall AG is one of the most well-known company in the German outdoor advertising industry.
Kudos to this German entrepreneur for this brilliant idea!