By Peter Biagioli
Retail facility leaders and managers are adept at functioning well in a high-stress, demanding environment. This is due to the fact that, even in a bustling economy, the job entails managing and overcoming an endless list of responsibilities: reaching service-level agreement (SLA) goals, optimizing efficiency, engaging staff, adhering to safety standards — all while managing time and budget.
The challenge is that this list is growing in complexity. Add in a volatile economic landscape and the deck is stacked against facility leaders in unprecedented ways.
On top of all this, the expectations of both retail customers and employees continue to elevate and shift. Customers have become accustomed to ordering their desired products from home, either for delivery or easy pickup. This means that customers who visit a retail store now have sky-high expectations for the in-store experience in terms of cleanliness, order, efficiency, timeliness, and product availability. Customers know what they want, and they want it now.
If we want to successfully meet the shifting expectations of customers and employees while hitting the bottom line, we must get above the day to day and plan proactively. Here are three key focus areas for your 2023 planning efforts:
1. Implement a robust preventative maintenance (PM) program. How many pieces of equipment do you manage in one store? How many different brands, parts, and service providers does that account for? Implementing a comprehensive PM program is key to insulating your business from economic downturn, supply chain slowdowns, staffing issues, and other mission-critical challenges.
Do you have a PM program in place for mission critical equipment? If so, then review the reporting and frequency from last year–did it eliminate reactive, emergency maintenance and do you have a repair roadmap for 2023? If you don’t, get one in place for your critical assets like docks, commercial doors, front doors, glass, retail equipment, etc. With parts lead times moving from days to months, a PM program can make the difference in keeping your facilities up and running. It will also be a key differentiator in your safety metrics, the right program helping you both identify in advance and avoid potential hazards that not only keep your operations moving but protect your people.
2. Create and adhere to a rigorous cleaning process and schedule. While some facility leaders consider cleaning processes and schedules to be an afterthought at best, and others envelope it into their larger maintenance program, I always encourage our clients to create a distinct, intentional, and thorough program specifically for keeping their facilities continuously and visibly clean, sanitized, and fresh. This takes time, resources and attention, but it’s worth considering the state of your cleaning program as we approach 2023.
We’ve found that, especially in the wake of the pandemic, and considering the high expectations customers now have for their less frequent in-store experiences, a sparkling clean retail environment makes all the difference in customer opinion and the likelihood of return visits. Many experts in the industry agree with our approach, and I expect rigorous cleaning processes to be a continuing trend in facility management in the years to come. Getting a strict cleaning cycle in place, and training your facilities’ teams on the importance and execution of it, will pay dividends over time.
3. Carefully research and streamline potential products and partners. Looking ahead to a new year is the perfect time to re-evaluate the service providers, parts, and equipment you rely on to keep facilities going. Have you considered rationalizing the number of vendors you have? Typically, folks look for generalist providers by market, but what if you considered choosing a national partner by equipment class — such as one for docks and doors and a different one for HVAC or electrical? When did you last comparison shop for service metrics and by application/trade? Preparing for a less frenetic 2023 means streamlining your partnerships and processes now. The payoff will come in both time and money saved as you select the best available options for your specific needs.
We’re less than 20 days away from 2023. Let that sink in for a moment. Are your facilities, teams, and equipment prepared for the demands and challenges of a new year?
Peter Biagioli is Chief Customer Officer at TrueSource, an OnPoint Group Company, and the first call for retailers and property managers in need of critical facility maintenance for more than 50 years.
Read the full article "2023 Planning: Three Top Focus Areas For Retail Facilities" on Facility Executive Magazine.