Just about anyone who is successful in retail will tell you that it is vital your locations are attractive and inviting. For someone to buy products from your store, they need to feel you want them, and be in an environment that puts them at ease. This need to make sure the appearance of your premises at least meets their expectations is why a well-maintained location is important to your customers. They chose to visit you rather than a rival retailer – or go online – so you must take the time to make them feel welcome.
When you are opening a new location, all bright, fresh, and new, the topic of maintenance may not seem so important. There won’t be any dust on the shelves, floors edged with dirt, or lights struggling to stay on. But your outlet won’t stay that way forever. Over time it will begin to degrade. Fittings will work loose. Areas with high traffic will show signs of wear. And electrics and plumbing will develop faults. While some staff may not think these issues are so important, they are to your customers.
The same goes for your back-office environment too. Stock rooms, staff rest areas and the equipment and assets they contain are just as vital in providing a great environment to your customers. They all have an impact, and here’s why.
Maintenance And Customer Accrual
Retailers naturally want to attract new customers. And for these people, first impressions count. A storefront with a dirty facade and grimy windows is obviously not going to present huge kerb appeal. But neither is an entrance door that is difficult to use or even jammed shut.
If this new customer steps inside, they won’t enjoy stock sitting on dirty shelving underneath flashing fluorescent lights as their shoes rasp on sticky flooring. And if they pluck up the courage to ask for an item that’s in the rear, the sound of squeaky hinged doors slamming shut from over-zealous door closers, then a long wait for staff to find items in the dark before returning will eventually have them heading for that entrance door and going to a competitor. A chance to bring in a new customer is gone.
As you can see, maintenance of the customer area is absolutely vital. A frontage must entice you in, entrance doors effortless to use, and surfaces rigorously clean. But the maintenance goes deeper. Other doors into back-office areas should be silent and not disturb the environment. Fittings such as display cabinets must be clean and easy to open when required. Lighting should work as intended. And heating, ventilation and air conditioning must keep the space comfortable without making its presence felt.
Maintenance And Legislation
There is also an important legal side to maintaining your outlets. Your retail estate is subject to legislation, such as the UK’s Health & Safety At Work Act, or the Code du Travail in France. These mandate that a place of work should mitigate against risk of injury. So you need to have plan in place for regular inspections and certifications for electrical, fire, gas and HVAC systems. This ensures the location meets standards and is a risk-free place for people to visit.
A retailer does more than make their store attractive by achieving these standards. They also remove distractions which turn into reasons for not buying from those premises. The customer will be less likely to go to a rival. And the retailer has a chance of a sale and to develop a loyal repeat-purchaser.
Maintenance and Customer Retention
Which brings us to an important question; is store maintenance also relevant to long-term customers? The answer here is undoubtedly yes as they are the very people who notice change. New customers miss the smaller details, such as the heating only working in one part of the store, or signage beginning to look tired. But returning customers don’t.
They notice when the premises are not maintained properly. Returning customers see floor tiles which have worked loose, cobwebs in corners, lights beginning to dim and an air conditioning supply that’s become a bit noisy. They take this lack of maintenance as a statement from the retailer about what they think of loyal customers. And so, once again, they head off to a rival.
For these reasons, it’s vital that a retailer has a detailed store maintenance plan in place before they even open their doors. It gives them a schedule in place that covers every aspect of their outlet. The retailer has an inspection and maintenance timetable that provides control over their premises. They can keep on top of both the critical items in the public eye and those fixtures and assets that may be out of sight but should never be out of mind.
In short then, a retailer that looks after their store will attract new shoppers, retains loyal clients, and helps increase sales. And that’s why a well-maintained store is important to your customers.