— By Carol E. Carey —
Does your parking lot and exterior say your company is clean and inviting — or stark, dark and unsafe?
Deciding not to keep your parking lot and building exteriors clean and fresh can be as devastating for your location and your reputation as having a dirty, unkept interior.
Unfortunately, many times, parking lot, sidewalk and exterior building cleaning repair and maintenance are the bottom tier of the facility maintenance departments’ priority list. The unkempt lot, building and sidewalks/apron of the store is detrimental to the property, giving a negative impression and potentially resulting in damage to the building and your corporate reputation.
Because your parking lot, building and front apron are seen first upon arrival, it should be treated as the initial reception area for all customers and routinely kept clean. Do you want your reception to be harsh and uninviting? Keeping it clean not only improves your location’s curb appeal, but it also helps prolong the life of your parking lot, building and apron — and therefore reduce facility managers’ time and money spent in the future by reducing the need for intrusive repairs and cleaning.
Parking Lots, Buildings, and Your Apron’s Dirty Truth
Dirt, garbage, sand, gravel, winter’s leftover salt and other debris collect on these surfaces, all posing threats to vehicles and pedestrians. Remember, if accidents occur due to poor maintenance or inattention, property owners and tenants can be found liable.
During dry windy spring and summer days, a dirty parking lot can kick up fine particles of dust, potentially causing your customers to experience health or sensitivity problems due to airborne contaminants. It can also blow debris onto vehicles, shopping carts, building visitors and passersby. Who wants someone’s burger wrapper stuck to the side of their new car? Or, worse, a burger wrapper that blows directly on them as they walk into your location? Further, a dirty parking lot can become a feeding ground for rodents and other pests, which is unsanitary and can be dangerous.
Gravel, while it is not always clear where this excess is coming from, accumulates in the parking lot and on your building’s apron, and can create an unstable surface, resulting in potential slip- or trip-and-fall accidents for walking customers or employees.
Sand and salt used to melt snow and ice over the winter can accumulate and impede visibility, or even wear away pavement markings, which keep your lots organized and guide both foot and vehicular traffic to your location entrance safely. When these abrasive substances wear away at your parking lot and sidewalk surfaces, the first step is resurfacing or replacement. This is very costly and time-consuming, if done correctly. Over time, this dirt can also accumulate in cracks and become a breeding ground for weeds. As the plants grow, they can cause the surfaces to heave and crack more.
Power Sweeping & Washing to the Rescue
Power sweeping is a fast and easy way to keep a parking lot or parking garage looking clean and tidy. It involves the use of vacuum-type sweepers, which maintain constant contact with the ground to easily suck up dirt, gravel and debris — and require minimal effort to operate. Sweeping should be performed monthly at a bare minimum or, depending on the location, daily to weekly. The frequency will depend on the amount of accumulated dirt and vary by lot location.
Power washing removes the tough stuff like excess salt, compacted dirt buildup and vehicle stains, leaving the lot in a pristine condition. It is deployed after sweeping and any oil stains or heavily soiled areas have been pre-treated with specially formulated products. Parking facilities should be pressure washed at least once per year, typically post-winter, to keep the garage clean and to maintain the integrity of the structure.
What do you want your parking lot and building exteriors to say to your customers?
— 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 [email protected] or visit www.superiorfacilityservice.com.