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A Business Lesson Learned In the Shower

Hotels order millions of miniature bars of soap and bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion each year. Unless guests take these travel-sized toiletries with them, the hotels end up disposing of them.

That’s why Marriott Courtyard started installing permanent dispensers in their showers. Body wash, shampoo and conditioner are available at the push of a lever. Learn more.


Guests and hotel operators both knew the drill. Miniature soap bars and bottles of shampoo, conditioner and lotion were only able to be used by one guest.

When guests left, they either took the toiletries with them or the hotel threw them out. Then, replacements were put in the bathroom for the next guest.

Permanent dispensers offer a less expensive and greener alternative. They’re less expensive because the personal care products can be purchased in bulk, and they’re greener because the dispensers eliminate all those single-use plastic bottles from the landfill.

The question isn't why the change was made; it’s what took so long? A rhetorical question, I confess.

A rhetorical question that can be expanded to every aspect of our business lives. With each business day, task or event, there may be a miniature shampoo bottle right in front of us.

I tend to focus on how to make the shampoo (i.e. the product) better while opportunities abound to deliver the same product better.

In a way, this is what Fred Smith did when he shook up the package delivery system—implementing the hub and spoke model called Federal Express. It’s what Jeff Bezos did with book distribution when he created Amazon.

For both, their ultimate product was their process or system.

These are larger-than-life examples, well beyond the aspirations of most business owners. However, these both illustrate the importance of improving on existing processes.

What process or product delivery method can you improve in your business?

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