Preparation for the New Season
A New Beginning
Can you believe it’s already a new year? The hectic holiday rush is over and now you must focus on those New Year resolutions you have set, as well as implementing your Master Plan. In addition to store displays and marketing plans, you have a myriad of other concerns to be fully prepared for the spring season. Amongst the most important is to ensure that your exterior services are under control. Why is this so crucial? Study after study has shown that the first step in attracting customers is to ensure that your facility presents eye-catching curb appeal that is distinct from your competition. In addition, the last thing you want is to lose customers because of aesthetic issues. The winter holidays may be over but the spring season represents a significant portion of your sales. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, or Easter, you need to ensure that you are drawing the customer to your location.
How do the exteriors of your facilities look? Do your exteriors present an appealing draw to customers? If not, there is much to do in the spring season to set your location apart from the competition. If your locations are like most, there are improvements and enhancements needed to guarantee appealing storefronts. Winter has taken a toll on most exteriors or they have simply been neglected due to the demands of the “Back to School” rush through holiday season. In addition to repairing winter damage, there are typically concerns with the overall grounds and irrigation activation.
Spring Clean Up
The attention needed by your exteriors is referred to as a Spring Clean Up, or SCU. There are a number of items that will usually need to be addressed in the spring to ensure proper curb appeal.
- Winter Damage – In northern climates, the effects of winter can be devastating to a store’s exterior. Ice damage to trees, frost heaving, and the weathered look of the landscape can significantly diminish your curb appeal. Corrective pruning will often be needed along with possible plant replacement.
- Mulch Replenishment – If your facility uses organic mulch in the landscape, it is likely weathered and no longer presents an attractive appearance. Mulch replenishment is usually completed in the spring for maximum aesthetic benefit and to ensure the best value to the facility.
- Irrigation Activation – This is perhaps the most important step in a SCU and often the most forgotten. To ensure curb appeal, it is important to get off on the right foot. A functional and working irrigation system ensures that your plant life is healthy and in good condition. Damage to an irrigation system will likely occur during the winter and a complete diagnosis is recommended to ensure the system is running properly.
- Plant Replacement & Enhancement – An overview of your landscape is a good idea to make sure all is in order. Now is the time to correct any deficiencies like plant replacement and make any planned enhancements to increase your curb appeal.
- Power washing & Parking Lots – In addition to mulch replenishment and enhancements, a careful eye should be placed upon your building exterior and parking areas. Are they safe? Do they present a clean, appealing look? Now is the time to address these issues.
- Power sweeping – Deposits of sand, salt and chemicals from winter maintenance will need to be removed to ensure a neat and attractive parking area.
- Properties in southern regions are not exempt from the exterior needs brought on by spring. In addition to the issues noted above, there are other exterior needs that are more specific to properties located in a warmer climate.
- Parking Lot Sweeping and Repair – Although southern regions see little or no snow, they tend to receive brief and often severe cold snaps, wind erosion, sun discoloration, chemical stains and an occasional sinkhole. The majority of these areas will require a parking lot sweeping and asphalt repair to restore their appearance year-round.
- Seasonal Color – The majority of your competition will be planting seasonal color to attract the attention of customers. This is an inexpensive way to ensure curb appeal and attract the customer’s eye.
- Fertilization and Deep Root Feeding – The late winter / early spring rainy season will leach most nutrients from the soil leaving your ornamental plants hungry and less than vibrant. A spring feeding program will alleviate this and ensure vigorous and attractive plant growth.
Maintaining Your Focus
Whether you are a store manager focused on a single location or the individual responsible for numerous facilities, you probably have an extremely busy spring season ahead of you. Although your curb appeal and exterior are extremely important, the demands of your position are best served inside the store. The time needed for staffing, POS displays, and the spring sales events mentioned earlier should remain your primary focus. That is why you should rely on an Exterior Services Management Company or ESM to manage the concerns outside so that you can focus on the sales inside. An ESM company specializes in ensuring that your location has the needed curb appeal to draw customers and allow you to focus on the inside demands of your position. A professional ESM company utilizes a number of formats to assist you with your exterior needs.
Managing Your Spring Clean Ups
An ESM company uses a number of formats to manage your exteriors. For concerns about spring clean ups and preparing your exterior for the new sales season, an ESM can conduct site assessments to determine your need and ensure your dollar is well spent. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Site Condition Audits – An ESM will review your entire exterior and make recommendations for safety issues, curb appeal, and general enhancements. This will often include information regarding trip hazards, dead plant material, and other possible hazardous and/or unappealing issues.
- Service Schedule Matrix – Which services will be required to ensure the aesthetic appeal of your storefront? An ESM can provide you with a service schedule matrix to detail when the services will be performed and their associated costs.
- Pro-Active Status – ESM companies specialize in ensuring your exteriors look their best. This is achieved through remaining proactive and alerting you to issues that require immediate attention.
- Capital Budget Outlay – Many companies require their facility directors or store managers to develop a plan of required repairs or enhancements to be budgeted in the capital outlay. On request, an ESM company can conduct a thorough site analysis to determine your need and assign varying levels of importance to each issue.
Ready to Tackle Sales
In this article, we have established that a store can often be their busiest in the spring and that there are a number of exterior issues that can arise or require immediate attention. But more importantly, we all know that the primary focus of any store manager should remain with sales. An ESM company can mean the difference between a healthy sales outlook and a location bogged down by a number of exterior issues that will not contribute to the bottom line as much as one with a well-focused manager. Start off your year right with increased employee productivity and customer draw-and do it without losing your focus on the tasks at hand!