— By Carol L. Carey —
It’s also what’s OUTSIDE that counts with customers.
Your company has prepared by making sure the market research has been done, you have all the latest gadgets, toys, clothing and items everyone would want to buy. Each location is stocked, product and staffing budgets are approved, but are you really prepared? Do you see what I see?
Many companies plan and budget for interior cleaning and maintenance. They outline preventative maintenance programs for janitorial services, HVAC, flooring, painting and even lighting. Their focus is making an inviting, safe environment for their customers!
They are right to do so. Customers won’t continue to frequent an unkempt or poorly looking store, but what about the exterior of the buildings? What are they saying to your customers? Do they meet your company’s brand image?
When your customers, your staff or you walk in, what do they see? Do they see a warm inviting store, somewhere they want to do all their shopping? Do your location personnel see it, or has your staff become so accustomed to walking in that they overlook a deteriorating exterior?
Is it clean, or does it have peeling paint, mold on the walls, gum on the sidewalks, or built-up dirt and debris? Is the parking lot clean or is there paper/trash all around? What about the landscaping? Is it overgrown or messy? Are there nests and bird droppings all over the place? Are the gutters clogged up and not draining properly? Does all the signage light up with faces intact, or are bulbs out or faces broken and cracked?
How can these adverse conditions affect your corporate brand image, locations, customers and staff?
Bird droppings and nesting:
- Spread disease and infection.
- Droppings are so acidic they corrode metal and deface building exteriors.
- Are slippery and can create hazardous walking and working conditions. This opens the company up to potential litigation from accidents.
- Feathers and nesting debris can clog drains and gutters, leading to property damages.
Dirty sidewalks and gum buildup:
- The appearance of your sidewalks — which has a direct effect on the way your customers view your business — take abuse from the constant traffic of pedestrians and bicycles/skateboards.
- The accumulation of chewing gum and spilled beverages can significantly deteriorate the appearance of your sidewalks, as well as cause irreparable damage to the surface.
Clogged trench drains, roof drains and gutters:
- Can cause flooding.
- Can damage ceiling and roofs.
- Gives the impression of neglect and carelessness.
- Invites graffiti and building tagging.
Alternatively, are your staff unintentionally not seeing it, or maybe encouraging it by feeding the birds? In many cases, employees just do not notice unclean or overly weathered exteriors. This can deteriorate the appearance of your building — thus, in turn, deteriorating your brand. Buildings that look weathered or unkempt, many times, become the target of a graffiti artist, making your property look even worse.
What can be done to improve the exterior’s appearance and the store staff aware of its condition? Here are a few things:
- Ensure that your budget has some funds allocated to the exterior!
- Create regularly or as needed services to obtain the corporate image desired!
- Preventative maintenance schedules — rather than one-offs — normally can be more economical, whether it be more than one service per store or service for all or a group of a stores.
- Checklist that includes exterior assessment (daytime and nighttime).
- Grow relationships with vendors that can handle more than one service at your store so one trip can do it all, reducing overall cost.
The appearance of your stores/locations has a direct effect on the way your customers view your business! Bigger yet, are the questions:
What Do Your Customers See?
Do they see the brand our company wants them to see?
Remember, to maintain your locations’ value, it often means they need an exterior cleaning too! Your property/buildings are one of your most effective marketing tools and will help you attract new customers and maintain current customers. Many would go as far to say it directly reflects how you, as a company, value your customers, employees and properties. The results can help encourage business growth, improve employee morale and create a better looking, more inviting environment in which to shop. n
— Carol L. Carey is CEO and co-founder of Superior Facility Service Group, Inc., a family owned and operated company specializing in commercial maintenance and repair, bird control and prevention, and disaster restoration. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.superiorfacilityservice.com.