Moving Your Facilities Forward During a Crisis

At this stage in the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve likely encountered what are now familiar phrases: “uncertain times,” “unprecedented challenges” and “new normal” to name a few. As COVID-19 swept the globe it left thousands of businesses—from high-end luxury brands to discount retailers and big-box stores—struggling to stay afloat in its wake. And although some uncertainty still lies ahead, with the proper technology, process improvements and support, you can retool your facilities management (FM) program and transform its role within your organization. 

Rebuild Customer Confidence

Whether you’re just getting ready to reopen your doors or you’ve been up and running since day one of the pandemic, it’s crucial to create a safe environment for customers and employees. Research in the consumer products and retail industry shows that 77% of shoppers are concerned about cleanliness, health and safety in the post-pandemic era. 

So, what does that mean for your day-to-day store operations? While the nitty-gritty details of your FM program will need to be reevaluated and streamlined on a routine basis, here are a few tips that work for any retail business:

  • Adhere to social distancing standards and create signage to alert customers of the proper procedures they should follow when in the store.
  • Create a corporate and store operations playbook to ensure employees understand their role in keeping stores safe.
  • Use sanitizing supplies such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and spray sanitizers as needed on high-touch areas and between customers.
  • Communicate with your customer—use channels such as social media to let your audience know exactly what in-store precautions you’re taking, and keep them abreast of changes to your policies, delivery or curbside pickup options, hours of operation and more. 

Being honest and authentic is important now more than ever as retailers strive to rebuild consumer confidence and maintain brand loyalty. 

Update Your Cleaning Regimen

To preserve that confidence, you’ve got to create a clean and safe atmosphere for your customers, and your old cleaning program likely won’t cut it. Keeping your facilities in order during and after the pandemic requires a detailed strategy, not just a few extra cleanings here and there. A robust cleaning program includes features such as janitorial services, sanitizing procedures, signage to highlight expanded cleaning services, system checks and a plan to communicate these priorities to all relevant stakeholders. 

Remember: Your Employees are Your Most Important Resource

Protecting your customers in times of crisis should be one of your highest priorities, but don’t lose sight of your employees, either. Team members need to feel safe at work, and it’s up to leaders at the corporate level to be open, transparent and sensitive to their employees’ needs. 

Facilities teams are often on the front lines of crisis management, and therefore might need extra support adjusting to new work requirements. Some organizations may be faced with reduced maintenance staff or fewer facilities managers, which can put additional strain on existing employees. Leaders who take care of their teams and listen to their needs will come out on the other side with a stronger, more skilled workforce. 

Don’t Hesitate to Invest in Your Future Now

Some things will go back to normal once the dust begins to settle—social distancing, for example, won’t last forever—but there will be adjustments that you make today that will stick with your company for years to come. 

Consumer research again tells us that many people are ready to go out and shop, but they must feel safe while doing it. Investing in touch-free technology and curbside pickup are two ways to keep confidence high now and in the future, which is important given that over 60% of consumers want retailers to adopt new safety practices in their stores. 

The very nature of a crisis makes it hard to prepare for, but if the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that businesses must keep safety, security and the customer experience at the top of their priority list. 

A strategic approach to managing the evolving needs of your facilities can help you recover your losses, enhance the shopping experience and emerge even stronger than you were before.

Ready to learn more?

Harness the power of IFM to streamline your facilities management processes and leverage financial savings with full program visibility.