Winter, spring, summer, fall…there is a way to be prepared for them all. No matter what Mother Nature sends - rain, wind, sun or snow - making exterior maintenance a top priority will keep your sites’ assets in peak condition for each season. Preparation is the key to maintaining an inviting atmosphere for your customers and employees. Whether you are gearing up for a simple snow and ice control plan, removing those unsightly layers of dirt, mold and grease on your building’s exterior walls, sidewalks, or parking lots, or even refreshing your landscaping, it is important to have a plan. Every property should have instant curb appeal. Various strategies can be integrated into a maintenance program to enhance the exterior appearance of your particular facility. Top-notch curb appeal is the product of essential components, including, but not limited, to the building façade, parking lots, hard surface areas, landscaping, updated design elements and overall cleanliness. The following provides tips to properly maintain the most essential curb appeal assets.
Loving your Landscape
Landscaping is one of your site’s greatest attributes for communicating a company’s brand and catching a customer’s eye. A landscape must be aesthetically pleasing, functional and safety-oriented. With proper design and maintenance, landscaping can also function to create privacy, block street-level noise, allow for better visibility, and provide a safe environment for everyone. Your landscape must be kept clean and neat – green shrubs, fresh mulch and neatly trimmed foliage. Prior to initiating any exterior landscaping job, it is always critical that an inspection of the facility’s exterior be performed to determine the most appropriate foliage for your property. This inspection will take into account the geographical location, available sunlight, location in relation to other exterior assets, pedestrian and vehicular traffic and soil types. The reason for the inspection is to determine the best selection of plants, trees and turf for your property.
Aesthetically pleasing exteriors can be designed to establish dimension, texture and lines that draw customers through the property. Turf, planting beds and foliage add instant aesthetic appeal to a location, while enhancing an otherwise plain parking lot. Hard scaping and walkways can be integrated to clearly define traffic flow, while ponds, fountains and similar assets can serve as blockades to deter unwanted entry. However, the landscaping must be properly designed, installed and maintained. If not, overgrown ornamentals and shrubbery can create hiding spaces, damage the building, harbor pest infestations and block visibility.
Parking Lot Pay Offs
A property’s asphalt is a major investment that must be well-maintained. Proper preventative maintenance is essential because this asset can quickly become a liability without the proper upkeep. Keep in mind that parking lot maintenance is a large part of curb appeal; potholes, cracks and loose debris will negatively impact perceptions of your property. The seasonal elements alone tend to harden the pavement, making it more brittle and likely to crack. Water seeping through the asphalt into the sub- structure will accelerate the disintegration of asphalt. Regular maintenance inspections for signs of wear and tear will help maintain and extend the life of hard surface assets and increase the value of your property, while reducing any potential liabilities, lowering unexpected costs and meeting customer expectations. A well-planned and budgeted preventative parking lot maintenance program will eliminate major problems and satisfy you with peace of mind.
Irrigation not Aggravation
Although it seems like the green season just kicked into full swing, keep in mind that winter will be here before we know it. Performing proper winterization steps during early fall is perhaps the best method of preventing damage to your system during the cold season and will help save you additional maintenance costs and repair headaches come spring. Ensure these steps are taken when winterizing your irrigation system:
- Disable the water supply
- Drain and tag backflow preventers
- Drain all valves, to be left partially open
- Blow out the system, or utilize previously installed automatic drain valves, to ensure all water is removed from pipes and sprinkler heads
- Turn off automatic controllers and power
Unless you are located in the extreme South or Hawaii, a well-developed snow and ice control plan is essential for safety, efficiency and cost-effective exterior facility management. I recommend having your snow removal agreement completed no later than early August each year. However, I have often heard customers say during the summer months, “I don’t have time to think about snow right now.” Although this may be true at a particular moment, snow preparation is a serious issue and it is never too soon to begin your winter weather preparations. If your locations are in a snow-prone region and your snow and ice control plans have not been finalized, this should become a top priority. After all, the benefit of your planning and early commitment is better service! The most professional snow removal companies are in high demand and sell snow removal service year-round. Their service availability will fill quickly and early; once their service capacity “cut off” is reached, their resources will be committed and the logistics and planning stage will begin. Simply, your options are much greater the earlier your snow and ice removal needs are finalized.
In addition to the exterior assets on the property, the proper maintenance of the building’s façade must be addressed. Pressure washing and building painting are cost-effective and efficient ways to rejuvenate and protect the building’s exterior, providing “curb appeal” that’s essential for making a great impression. Depending upon the surface materials, age of the facility itself and maintenance schedule; pressure washing may be used to remove layers of dirt, mold, grime, grease and other unsightly build-up. Pressure washing effectively decreases the probability of long-term damage from the harsh effects of sunlight, wind, rain, snow, ice and pollution. It also increases the life of your exterior assets, keeping them in prime condition throughout the year. In some cases a new coat of paint may be required to freshen up the façade. A professional service provider will take the appropriate measures to ensure the surface is dry, smooth and in sound condition prior to proceeding with paint application. Finally, any graffiti on your property should be removed promptly.
Whether it is this winter, spring, summer, or fall there is no reason to be stressed at all. Regular exterior maintenance programs will help to keep your properties looking pristine, and create a stress-free environment to kick off every season this year!
Kevin Dent is CEO of DENTCO, a DeWitt, Michigan-based Exterior Services Management company.