Benefits of Exterior Building Cleaning for Your Business
What are the benefits of regular exterior cleaning for your business? That’s what we’re going to look at in this article, and we think you might be surprised by just how many there are!
You’re possibly thinking to yourself, ‘how can cleaning the outside of my building make that much difference?’
Well, that’s the question we’re hoping to answer for you. We are going to explore the many benefits of keeping the exterior of your building clean, from the potential financial savings to the increased footfall through your door. We are going to look at the safety benefits for your customers, your staff and passers-by, and talk about how cleaning the exterior of your building can alert you to previously hidden structural issues before they become major headaches for you and your business.
We will cover everything from how a clean exterior can help drive sales and improve staff wellbeing and retention to the many ways it can help protect not only your building but also your investments. We shall also take a look at some of the potential issues that might arise if you fail to carry out even the smallest of cleaning tasks.
This subject opens up a whole range of benefits that will make a huge difference to your business overall. The best thing is these are all seemingly small steps you can take that, when combined, have the effect of making your business into a place where people love to work, and customers love to visit.
We hope that by the time you have finished reading this article you will know exactly what is to be gained by undertaking a regular programme of exterior building cleaning for your business.
For all the detailed business plans you have drawn up, all the marketing strategies you have put into place, and all the other initiatives you have tried with the hope of increasing footfall through your door, this simple yet often overlooked measure could make a huge difference to your business and profitability. After all, your business is your livelihood. It’s what keeps a roof over your head and food on the table, so why wouldn’t you want to give it the best of every possible chance to help it succeed?
We all know how difficult it can be running a business, no matter what size it is. Whatever we can do to make this a little easier, to keep those customers coming through the door, the tills ringing and the staff happy, should be embraced and undertaken with relish. There really is nothing to lose by following these simple steps, but there’s certainly plenty to gain.
- First Impressions Matter
- Speculate to Accumulate
- Protect Against Personal Injury Claims
- Maintain a Good Working Environment
- Reduce Maintenance Costs and Protect Your Assets
First Impressions Matter
You can’t run a successful business without one thing above all else: customers. That’s why when you have a bricks-and-mortar business that relies on getting feet through the door you need to do everything you possibly can to attract passing trade and entice customers in.
In the business world, looks are everything and if your business exterior looks untidy and unkept, you are not showing the best first impression. ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is an oft-repeated expression in business, and it’s especially true when it comes to the high street. With so many shops and businesses vying for the same customers, you need to ensure your business stands out for all the right reasons and makes a good impression right off the bat.
Imagine there are two businesses, side-by-side, selling the exact same product or service to the exact same customer. These businesses could be based out of shops, commercial units, market stalls or any other establishment. It doesn’t matter where they are or what they sell, what matters is that they are plying the same trade, in the same street, right next door to each other.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer, take a couple of steps back and take a look at the two businesses.
The business on the left looks run down. The sign is dirty, there’s some green staining around the gutters and soffits, the windows are streaked with dirt, the windowsills are filthy and the drain cover right outside the door is blocked with leaves and litter that’s blown in off the street. One of the downpipes on the guttering is blocked and water is trickling down the side of the building, pooling at the corner and splashing up against the side of the building. The people walking past are having to jump out of the way to avoid getting splashed with dirty water.
There’s graffiti all over the shutters, and bird droppings spattered across the brickwork. There’s a collection of old chewing gum along the windowsill, discarded by passers-by over what looks like many months. It’s been raining for the past few days and the pathway leading up to the entrance of the business has developed a slimy green sheen, which not only looks bad but has turned the pavement into an ice rink. The business looks general unkempt and unloved.
In comparison, the business on the right looks pristine. Although both buildings were built at the same time, the one on the right has obviously been well maintained and looks almost as good as it did on the day it was first opened. The windows have been cleaned and the sills have been wiped down, making it easy for passers-by to get up close and peer through the window to see what treasures might be lurking inside.
The gutters have been cleaned and there are no leaves blocking the drain, so the rain has been able to run quickly and quietly away, unnoticed by visitors to the establishment. The entire exterior of the building has been jet washed and looks clean and cared for, with no sign of algae on the brickwork or pavement, no bird droppings or graffiti, and no moss growing stubbornly in the joints of the downpipe.
To even the most undiscerning eye, only one of these businesses looks like it belongs to somebody who cares enough about it to put some effort into maintaining it. This may well be as far from the truth as it is possible to be, but at this point it is almost irrelevant what is going on behind the very public frontages of these establishments. Because looks really do matter, and people will always tend to judge a book by its cover.
Given the descriptions of these two similar businesses, which door you would step through? We know which one would get our custom.
The first impression of a business premises is where a customer can be instantly won or lost. What’s more, if a customer is lost because of a negative first impression, they can be very difficult to entice back. When faced with a choice between two similar businesses, one with an attractive exterior and one that looks shabby, the vast majority of people will veer towards the cleaner, better-maintained-looking one and it makes sense that they would. Wouldn’t you?
Although it’s probably not the case that the shabby-looking building houses a shabby business with inferior products or services, people do judge by appearances and will tend to automatically shy away from premises that do not appear to be looked after or maintained. The exterior appearance really does reflect your business ethos and even if you offer a superior product or service to that of your competitors, that’s almost irrelevant if customers are attracted into their shop rather than yours.
If you are relying on passing trade, it’s important to make the best first impression. Because who knows what the next customer to come through your door could mean for your business. You really could be risking a potentially huge opportunity for the sake of a quick pressure wash or a bucket of hot, soapy water and broom.
In these unprecedented and uncertain times, it is vitally important for businesses to attract and retain customers. Estimates have it that more than 20,000 UK businesses will have been forced to permanently close their doors in the first half of 2020 (Centre for Retail Research). If you’re invested in your business – and why wouldn’t you be? – now is the time to take some steps towards enticing customers new and old through your door.
There’s never been a better time to make a few small changes that will help you stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons. Be one of those business owners who gives it their all. By making a few small changes, you could soon be reaping the rewards.
Speculate to Accumulate
Many businesses spend big bucks when it comes to marketing. It might be that you regularly spend huge amounts of money on having your social media accounts maintained, or advertising in all the best trade magazines. You might even be paying to run television or radio campaigns, run by a highly trained and proficient marketing team.
Nobody can question the benefits of this approach, but when the endgame is attracting customers, all that hard work and investment can be rendered pointless in an instant if somebody is enticed to visit your premises and, upon getting there, finds that your building doesn’t exactly reflect the professional and efficient business image you have been trying so hard to portray.
How can you realistically expect the customer to give you their faith, trust and, more importantly, their hard-earned cash, if they perceive you as a business that isn’t concerned with the most basic things like having a tidy and clean-looking exterior?
Of all the things you can do in business to increase your turnover, maintain staff morale and encourage and retain customers, this is one of the easiest and cheapest, yet it is often overlooked.
There is always an element of competition in business. But when you are competing against a similar business offering a similar service and looking at the same customers, do you want to be referred to as ‘the shiny building on the corner next to the grubby place’ or ‘the slightly grubby-looking place next to the shiny building on the corner’?
A business that doesn’t keep the exterior of their building clean can’t truly hope to be taken seriously. It’s a well-known idiom that ‘the devil is in the details’. If your business seemingly doesn’t pay attention to small details like keeping the walkway to your door free from algae or your gutters cleared of leaves and debris, the devil will show itself as a customer that goes elsewhere.
You might be the greatest manufacturer of the most comfortable shoes in the world. You might build the greatest bikes, capable of cycling up Mount Everest. You might cook the world’s finest pies or have access to the most fantastically fragrant flowers. But if your exterior doesn’t match the quality you claim to purvey within, you might never have the opportunity to prove yourself worthy of those accolades because people simply won’t come through your door.
Of course, it’s not enough to clean the exterior of your business building once and say it’s a job well done. You’ll know from the regularity with which your own home needs cleaning just how quickly dirt and grime can build up, and the same goes for your business.
It’s important that you keep to a regular programme of cleaning and maintenance, just as you do at home.
Your business premises is an investment just like your house is you don’t want to pour money into an initial exterior clean and then fall back into the pattern of not doing anything, because not only will this affect your ability to attract new passing customers, it will have an adverse effect on customer retention.
It’s a recognised fact that repeat business can make a huge difference to your company’s turnover, so in today’s market customer retention is vitally important. But customers have plenty of choice these days, and they don’t owe you any sort of loyalty. If your regular customers notice your building beginning to look a little tired and uncared for and that you seem to be letting things slip a little, they are likely to start feeling like you’ve lost the commitment and love for your business that you used to show.
If they feel like you’ve lost the passion for your business, it’s highly likely that they will too, and they will simply shop elsewhere.
Of course, there are certain sectors where cleanliness will always be of paramount importance. If you run a food or beverage establishment, for example, your customers won’t accept anything other than the highest standards of cleanliness and safety. You’ll also be bound by strict environmental health policies, and there will be third-party checks and regulations which you have to adhere to.
But even without those, it will be your customers judging you it is in your customers’ hands that your fate rests. It is them who will decide whether your business succeeds or fails.
This last point is true for all businesses, of course. Without customers, your business will not thrive. So even if you don’t operate a food outlet and are not bound by sector-specific legislation, it is important that you consider taking steps to achieve the highest possible standards of external cleanliness.
Protect Against Personal Injury Claims
No business owner likes to think about somebody getting hurt because of them and their establishment. Whether it’s a sign coming loose and falling on a passer-by, a forklift running over a customer’s foot at your warehouse, or somebody tripping on the step as they enter your shop, the reputational, financial and even emotional damage an accident can cause for you and your business is unconscionable. How would you begin to pick up the pieces if somebody suffered catastrophic injuries while visiting your property?
There’s also no escaping the fact that, in recent years, the UK has adopted something of a compensation culture. Businesses and local authorities up and down the country are being held to account, and forced to pay, for injuries and damage sustained through accidents caused by improperly maintained buildings and property. In 2019 alone, more than 110,000 personal injuries claims were issued in county courts across the country (The Law Society).
The potential reputational and financial cost of a claim against your business is another reason to ensure the exterior of your building is maintained to a high standard. When a civil claim can result in a pay-out of thousands of pounds, the extra cost of employing a solicitor and having to attend court, it really does pay to ensure the exterior of your building is kept safe and sound.
There are immediate safety benefits to certain cleaning and maintenance measures you can implement. Pressure washing the pavement outside your building’s entrance will ensure any algae that has built up is sluiced away, thereby averting any potential slips or falls by people coming to visit your premises. And although it is likely the local authority that would be ultimately responsible, pressure washing the pavement along the entire width of your building will not only look fantastic and show a sense a community spirit, it will ensure you’ve done everything you can to prevent a claim being made against you.
Leaf matter can also pose a potential risk for customers and passers-by, especially in the autumn when leaves are falling more regularly and windier conditions can cause them to gather in piles. Combine these piles of dead leaves with heavy and persistent rain, and you could be looking at overwhelmed gutters, blocked rains and hazardous leaks and pools of water. Regularly sweeping up leaves will not only ensure your business looks tidy and cared for, it will make approaching your property much safer for any passing trade or returning customers.
It’s not just the immediate threat caused by not clearing up that businesses need to be mindful of, however. Regular cleaning of the exterior of your business building can also alert you to other maintenance issues that could develop into potential safety hazards if left unattended.
For instance, you notice one of your gutters is blocked and is leaking a constant stream of water into the street below. Perhaps you decide to get the ladder out and go up there yourself to clear out the fallen leaves that have gathered there. While you’re up there cleaning the gutters, you notice some loose roof slates or missing mortar around the old and unused chimney stack. If either of these were to come completely loose, they could easily fall off the roof and cause a serious injury to anybody who happened to be walking by.
There are so many maintenance issues you will be able to spot with a regular programme of exterior building cleaning, from cracked gutters and insecure signage to partially corroded cladding and internally invisible water ingress. Catching any of these issues early is going to be important not only for the integrity of your building but, perhaps more importantly, for the safety of your customers and the security of your business.
Maintain a Good Working Environment
If you run a business, you will know that the general wellbeing, health and morale of your employees is important to the success of your business. A business is only as good as the people who work for it, after all, and ensuring your staff are happy and healthy is key to serving your customers in the way you want them to be served. If people enjoy coming to work in your building and can take pride in their work environment, you will get far better results from a more committed workforce.
Imagine working indoors with a pleasant view out of a nearby window. Clean pavements, attractive signage, perhaps some window boxes bursting with colourful blooms – you’d be happy to turn up for work every morning. Now envisage that same window, overgrown with ivy, or obscured by six months of grime to the point that you can barely see through it. Where would you rather be spending eight hours a day?
Sometimes something as seemingly trivial, and quick and cheap to implement, as keeping your windows cleaned can make a real difference to the mental health and wellbeing, as well as the loyalty, of your staff. After all, how can you expect your employees to take pride in their work when the boss seemingly doesn’t take pride in the business?
There’s also evidence to suggest that a happier workforce makes for a more productive workforce. A recent study discovered that workers are generally 13% more productive when they are happy (Oxford University), meaning that taking tiny steps towards making your premises a pleasure to work in will have huge benefits for your business too.
Having a shiny exterior and a few flowers strategically placed outside will not present a fix-all solution and guarantee employee happiness, but there is no denying that these little touches and inexpensive maintenance jobs will combine to make a real, quantifiable difference to staff morale. Show them you care, and they will care too.
It’s not just your employees’ happiness you need to consider, however. Many potential health hazards can present as a result of failing to maintain the cleanliness of the exterior of your business building.
If, for example, your cladding has started to come loose:
something that could have been noticed during routine and regular external cleaning, this could lead to water ingress and dampness within the building. This could lead to increased sickness within your workforce, especially for any employees with existing respiratory conditions like asthma.
Equally, the failure to regularly pressure wash your building’s exterior could lead to the build-up of hazardous algae and mould. These growths are undoubtedly unsightly and will damage the aesthetics of your business, but more than that, they are harmful to breathe in and could lead to a variety of health issues for anybody who regularly comes into contact with them, namely your employees.
Pollen, dust, dirt, mould and pollutants from nearby roads can all gather on the exterior surfaces of your building and they can all have seriously harmful health effects, causing problems such as trouble breathing, sinus infections, allergies and disease.
Pressure washing will get rid of these potentially harmful substances immediately. Moreover, when you implement a regular programme of pressure washing, you will prevent these substances from building up in the first place, thereby protecting your staff and ensuring business continuity through a healthy workforce.
Sickness rates are not the only thing to consider when it comes to ensuring the health and wellbeing of your staff, you also need to think about the potential dangers in terms of accidents. Regular cleaning of the exterior of your business building will help you keep an eye on many of these possible problem areas.
Gutters are the source of many and varied headaches for building owners, and keeping an eye on yours can prevent accidents caused by loose fixtures, cracked or corroded guttering. As well as the accidents that could occur should a gutter fall or a downpipe become detached, a persistent leak caused by a blocked gutter could lead to a build-up of algae on the pathway that could cause it to become dangerously slippery, increasing the likelihood of an employee falling over on their way into work. Likewise, fire escapes or fire exits with steps can, if not regularly cleaned, become hazardously slippery.
There is a huge number of potential danger areas in any working environment and as a business owner, it is your duty to do all you can to maintain a safe workplace. Think carefully about the unique aspects of your building. Really consider the exterior of your property and it shouldn’t be too difficult to identify any potential problems, hazards or dangers and then you can identify the preventative measures you can take to avert any issue before it occurs.
Some of the figures for workplace absences in Great Britain are truly shocking. Obviously, we are not suggesting that all absences are attributable to business owners failing to keep the exteriors of their buildings clean, but undoubtedly some of them are. Even if 1 in 10,000 of these illnesses can be avoided by paying consideration to a programme of regular cleaning, it would pay dividends to do so.
In 2018/19, 1.4 million working people were suffering from a work-related illness. A staggering 28.2 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury and the estimated cost of injuries and ill health from working conditions is placed at an incredible £15 billion (Health and Safety Executive). This truly is somewhere you can make a real difference to your employees.
Reduce Maintenance Costs and Protect Your Assets
If you own your business building, it is probably one of the most valuable assets you have. In this respect, you are going to want to protect this investment as much as possible. Perhaps you intend to hand it down to the next generation. Perhaps it’s your retirement fund and you intend to sell it at some point down the line. Either way, it’s an investment that needs nurturing if it is to provide you with the returns you expect it to.
If you lease your business premises, there are almost certainly conditions in your lease that stipulate you must ensure the property is properly maintained above and beyond the building’s aesthetics. You’ll be responsible for small, regular maintenance jobs, no doubt. But at the very least you will be expected to notice and report any issues about damage, corrosion or other issues.
Regular cleaning of your building’s exterior will help you keep an eye on the structural integrity of the property, helping you protect your asset as well as make a good impression on your customers.
A thorough, deep clean of your building’s exterior can be a big job, whether you operate from a commercial warehouse or a glass-fronted office block. That said, it will pay dividends to implement a regular programme of little and often, which is generally more effective than an annual deep clean. Not only will this approach save you the massive upfront costs of a once-a-year deep clean, but it will also allow you to identify and monitor any defects throughout the seasons and in plenty of time to get them remedied.
Obviously, a programme of regular cleaning will entail different elements at different times of the year. For example, leaves falling in autumn will necessitate closer attention being paid to guttering, whereas ice and snow in winter could lead to cracks appearing woodwork as it swells and shrinks.
Having a proactive and regular cleaning routine will not only protect your investment, but it will also protect you from any potential lease penalties. If you undertake the cleaning yourself, it will have the added benefit of allowing you to really get to know your building. You will have first-hand knowledge of any maintenance issues and will be able to articulate them to your landlord, rather than trying to interpret and report the concerns of a third-hand contractor.
Contracting out to a professional services provider will put the care of your building in the hands of an expert, who may way be able to spot emerging problems much earlier than you might be able to. As with all things building-related, being able to deal with issues early on and rapidly could end up saving you an absolute fortune in the long-term. If, for example, a small crack in a gutter or the building’s cladding went unnoticed and unattended to, this could be the beginning of potentially much bigger problems down the line, causing issues of dampness and even structural damage.
This might appear to be an over-exaggeration, but this is a perfectly realistic scenario and could seriously affect the operating costs, budget and profitability of your business, as well as affecting your reputation among estate agents should you find yourself in need of a new premises.
No businessperson likes uncertainty, and the last thing you need is an unplanned expenditure that could have been easily avoided by something as simple as ensuring your gutters were regularly cleaned through the Autumn.
Another thing that needs serious consideration when it comes to the exterior of your building is bird droppings. It might not be the nicest thing to have to think about, but it really is important as it can have some huge, negative effects. These effects can range from aesthetic issues to causing serious health problems.
Bird droppings on the external paintwork are not only unsightly, but they can also cause the painted surface to become corroded. Bird droppings contain high levels of uric acid, and this can begin to corrode paint and lacquer within a matter of minutes. It doesn’t take much imagination to foresee the effects it could have if this went uncleaned for a long period. If left untended to, bird droppings will completely erode the paintwork and expose any underlying metal surfaces to the elements, resulting in rusting and potential leaks and/or significant structural damage.
These bird droppings can also be very dangerous to the health of your staff and customers. As well as uric acid, they contain high levels of nitrogen, which can cause some very unfriendly contaminants to grow, including fungi that can go on to cause respiratory problems in people. It can also lead to the development of Histoplasmosis, which is a dangerous lung condition.
Further to this, there are more than 60 diseases that can be caused by bird droppings, including salmonella and another lung disease, Cryptococcosis (Medical News Today).
Bird droppings tend to be more prevalent during the spring and summer months, so you should plan additional cleaning services at these times.
So, there you have it, the many and varied benefits of exterior building cleaning for your business.
Hopefully from the above, you will have come to see that it’s about more than simply, ‘if it looks nice, people will come in and buy from me’. You should now have an increased appreciation of how the external condition of your property can make a real and tangible difference to your premises, your employees, your customers and more importantly, the sustained profitability of your business. And you’ll know that, while embarking on a period of regular external cleaning might not miraculously transform the future of your business, it is certainly something you should consider undertaking as something that can have real, quantifiable benefits.
Think about how relieved you would be if, in the course of jet washing your external wall, you were to discover a tiny crack in the rendering or cladding that could be easily fixed but which could have gone on to deteriorate to the point where you had to completely resurface an entire wall. Not only will you have saved yourself a significant financial outlay, but you might also even have prevented yourself the emotional and financial stress of having to close your business for a couple of weeks while those refurbishments were carried out.
Can you really afford to close your business for a few weeks while scaffolding is erected, old cladding is removed and disposed of and a new façade is fitted? Because even though you won’t be able to sell your products or services to customers, you will still have to pay for your staff, and there will still be bills to pay and invoices to clear.
Although this is admittedly a worst-case scenario and relies on several factors all conspiring against you, it does illustrate what could go wrong, and what the repercussions could be for you and your business. As Benjamin Disraeli said, it a good idea to ‘Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.’ If you always expect the unexpected, you will never be disappointed.
When you consider the potential financial impact of anything going wrong with your business building, the initial and ongoing outlay of a regular cleaning routine fades into insignificance and once you have the routine in place from jet washing, window cleaning, gutter clearing, woodwork protection, rust removal etc, you will wonder why you hadn’t done it before.
These cleaning tasks needn’t all be carried out on a weekly or even a monthly basis, of course. Each individual premises will have its own individual features and requirements, so you will need to consider a programme of tasks that best suits you and your business building.
You might previously have considered it to be a trivial exercise, but hopefully, you can now see that establishing an exterior building-cleaning regime can be a huge, positive step for your business. By implementing a few small measures and carrying them out regularly, you will improve the workplace for your staff, you’ll increase the safety of your customers and passers-by, and you will save a substantial amount of money in the long run and with your shiny new exterior and cared-for façade, you could even see your business revenue grow as you attract new customers in.
Finally, you will be able to take immense personal pride and satisfaction as people start to talk about your business as the shiny building next to the one covered in bird droppings, which looks like it could do with a bit of care and a good clean.
You may also like to Read: 100 Tips for cleaning driveway