Today I am going to share an idea with you that is so ridiculous it might just work. Running a network of privately-owned advertising-supported public toilets. Like healthcare and security, we are privatising public toilets. Yes, a business operating free public toilets paid for by advertising inside.

We all know by now that there is money to be made from government incompetence whether its a government agency or state-own enterprise, they are all incompetent. People that get into these businesses are usually too busy counting their money to even phone their friends so lucrative it is.

Today we are looking at public toilets, under both the ANC and DA it is a complete and utter shitshow. The state of public toilets even in Cape Town and the Western Cape (considered the best-run province) is so disgusting it beggars belief.

Why is it so difficult for governments to operate public toilets? They will blame the public but the main problem is the states procurement network. What costs you and me R10 the government pays R1000 or R10 000 for, To fix a toilet will cost us R1000 the government will pay R100 000 so for them to upgrade the toilet that will cost us R10 000 will cost them R1 million to R10 million. It is a little building with cubicles in how difficult can it be to keep it clean and working? Very hard apparently.

What on earth is an advertising-supported public toilet?
The toilet is free to use. The running of the toilet is funded by advertisers. The toilet doors both inside and outside have adverts on, above the urinals are adverts, inside the urinals are adverts. There are screens with adverts all around the toilet and the mirrors have advertising. There is a sensor on the entry door tracking the number of people that enter, this is then provided to advertisers so they can see how many eyeball “impressions” will see their ads.

Urinal advertising

Toilet door advertising

Interactive ads in a club

Interactive ads

Ad on mirror

Mirror advertising

How would this business look?
You are going to need space, preferably on a busy road to convert into a toilet, there are lots of vacant spaces right now. A properly managed public toilet (what should be provided by the government) could enhance the area.

There will always need to be a cleaner on-site, the toilet will have “office hours” so it is not unsupervised. The cleaner will need cleaning materials, there will be a (considerable) water bill depending on the number of users but the more users the more you can charge advertisers.

You will need advertisers which is where the income comes from. You can create various “packages”, charging more for the prominent spots. This business will most likely be frequented by lower-income people who still shop in the CBD’s (the middle-upper income they’ve moved to the Century City’s and the Sandton’s) but that is OK, the vast majority of South Africans are lower-income, unfortunately, it is growing and there are lots of businesses to cater to this. Factoring people on grants alone we are talking tens of billions of rands in spending power.

Location
Where would such a toilet be positioned? CBD’s for one. For reasons no one has been able to explain, every government in every province has neglected central business districts. Very strange. But don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, there is money to be made.

Toilet management
Another thing to look at is taking over the running of private toilets in malls. Another stroke of madness ostensibly made to prevent homeless people from washing there is paid toilets in malls. When nature calls you have to go around looking for change even worse if you don’t have cash on you.  It is a very low-class practice, that is mainly due to landlord greed, but it goes hand-in-hand with the shocking urban decay we have seen in our country. The smell of poop and urine can usually be found around these places. Go to the Golden Acre in Cape Town that practices this, what was once a classy destination, it doesn’t even look like you in South Africa anymore it looks like you entered a portal to uhm (I’m thinking of a country that I have seen such filth but cannot).


Had I decided to stay in SA, I would have opened this business I kid you not. This is what I said over 3 years ago:

I want to take these ideas further in future as public toilets even in “world class” cities like Cape Town is a (excuse the pun) shit show, and I think local entrepreneurs could apply their mind in improving it – and making some money in the process. – Start Your Own Public Toilet Advertising Agency (Published 6 May 2017)

Speaking of which you can even team up with advertising agency, they find the clients, do all the “media” design, print etc. and you just operate the toilets.