Retailers may think of cleanliness and daily maintenance in terms of their store's appearance, but the truth is, these important tasks also directly impact a store's bottom line and customer satisfaction levels. A discarded wad of gum or less-than-sparkling bathroom can ruin a customer’s shopping experience and cause them to spend less time in your store. Thankfully, the opposite is also true. A spic-and-span sales floor has the power to impress and bring customers back again and again.
Why It Matters
Recent data suggests that the time businesses devote to cleaning and daily maintenance directly impacts their bottom lines. In a recent survey, two out of three shoppers revealed they would not return to a store that they perceived to be inadequately cleaned. Yet all is not lost. According to “Retail News Insider,” 93% of customers who switched to a competitor due to unmet cleanliness expectations would give a retailer a second chance if that store made cleanliness a priority.
With increasing competition from online sales, retail stores may find cleanliness to be the difference between success and failure. But with service contractors operating in multiple locations across the country, what can be done to ensure a consistent level of janitorial quality? How can you put yourself in the shoes of new customers to evaluate your store’s appearance through their eyes? Which areas need to receive extra care to make an excellent impression on the average (or even discerning) customer?
To help answer these important questions, we turn to Prestige Maintenance USA COO Jason Dinverno, whose insights come from working in his family’s 40-year-old business since he was a child.
“Online sales are going to continue to increase,” says Dinverno. “The retail footprint is, in fact, contracting.” For sales to support the cost of running a storefront, consistency across multiple locations, tidiness and great in-store experiences are critical to success.
The stakes are higher than ever before. “We’re seeing locations close,” says Dinverno. “Cleanliness is becoming more and more important.” For retailers that neglect the cleanliness of their sales floors, M/A/R/C Research and National In-Store reports have some worrisome stats: They found that 14% of shoppers will stop visiting a location if the store does not achieve their expected level of cleanliness, and 29% would only patronize a less-than-tidy retailer if absolutely necessary.
Areas to Watch
So where should your janitorial team focus? “Your entry is really important,” says Dinverno. “Your walk-up and walk into the store is where guests are going to get their immediate impression.” Leading research agrees: More than half of customers will avoid a store if the exterior appears to be poorly maintained, so a strong first impression is vital. On a more optimistic note, however, a poll found that 80% of customers would be willing to try a new store if the exterior was clean and inviting. Even the modern conveniences offered by online shopping can’t compete with an inviting storefront that sends the message that you have invested time in the care of your business.
After the main entrance, a welcoming and exceptionally pristine restroom provides an enormous opportunity to influence guests in a positive way. Dinverno also cautions against overlooking your dressing rooms. “I think fitting rooms are the big one, because they are a challenging location in the store, and there is a big focus on the sales floor,” he says. Fitting rooms are locations where families as well as individual consumers visit and more importantly, where 80% of purchasing decisions are made at clothing retailers. “Moms go in with the stroller, and you want the experience to be very clean and neat, and you want there to be a good scent with consistent air movement.”
Dedicated Janitorial Services
Dinverno also notes that while many establishments put great emphasis on the store’s appearance before opening, there is a disconcerting lack of ongoing attention throughout the day, despite ongoing foot traffic.
Some retail establishments choose not to use a dedicated professional janitorial service and instead expect sales floor employees to handle cleaning duties. In those stores, janitorial tasks are often neglected during high-traffic times — such as the rush following the 5 o’ clock hour — as employees focus on directly engaging with customers. During these times, high-touch areas such as entrances, restrooms and food service areas can become noticeably dirty.
Make a Plan
The evidence is in: Cleanliness, sanitation and consistency in janitorial services play a huge role in attracting new customers, satisfying current ones and ensuring guest loyalty at retail establishments. Prestige Maintenance USA can work with you to create a janitorial plan that’s ideal for your needs.