Your Facility and the Power of First Impressions

A friend of mine recently asked me “What does M|GROUP do?”  I thought to myself “Heck, that’s easy!” and launched into my normal overview which highlighted our expertise in formulating niche facility solutions and becoming an extension of our client’s real estate operations.  After I finished, he paused for a moment and then responded with something I didn’t expect.  He said, “You’re not in the facility management business, you’re in the business of creating positive first impressions”.  At first I thought he was crazy but, after letting it sink in, I’ve come to fully embrace this.

If you Google the phrase ‘Time to form First Impressions’ dozens of scientific and non-scientific articles pop up most of which reflect two common themes: 1) First impressions are formed very quickly and 2) Once formed, they are very hard to change. OK, great, but what does that have to do with commercial property & facility management?  Well, unless your business only makes house calls, it has everything to do with it as your facility is the first interaction the potential or existing customer has when going to visit your business. Be it leased or owned, single or multi-tenant, urban or suburban, etc. before they even walk through the door or interact with your team, consumers have already formed an opinion about your business based solely on the facility you are in and, more importantly, its physical condition.

Think about your own personal experiences when going to visit any myriad of product or service providers. How many times have you pulled up to a building for the first meeting with say, an attorney or doctor, and thought “What a dump” or, conversely, “Wow, nice digs”.  Before the car has been put in park, you’ve already formed an opinion about that provider based on the exterior condition of the facility.  Does an un-mowed lawn or peeling paint have any correlation to the quality of legal advice or medical care you will receive?  Of course not.  But in this hyper-competitive world, why would you give a potential customer any reason to think negatively about you?

The same can be said for retail centers. There is a store that, to this day, I choose not to patronize because their awning signage is faded, the railroad tie landscaping beds are falling apart & full of weeds and the parking lot should have been sealed and re-striped years ago.  As a consumer, I don’t process whose responsibility it is to perform that work (tenant or landlord) nor do I care about the cost of replacement or upkeep. All I know is that my first impression of that business was not positive because of the condition of their facility, so I shop at a different establishment (for the same product) where my first impression was more appealing.  The last thing retail property owners need to do is give consumers another reason to use Amazon Prime.

As an Accredited Management Organization, we have consistently demonstrated the use of best practices in the field of property and facility management to ensure that our client’s locations are in first class condition. More so, imbedded within our mission is the pledge that these facilities will be Safe, Compliant, Efficient & Appealing all of which have direct impact on the facility’s ability to affect sentiment. Here are a few examples of how proper and proactive facility management can ensure a positive first impression:

Safe: Lots and walks cleared and salted before business hours, sufficient & functioning exterior lighting, landscaping trimmed for proper vision corridors, potholes and uneven walkways clearly marked and repaired promptly, functioning security system.

Compliant: Number & location of handicap parking stalls, ADA access and ramps, appropriate licensing of pesticide/herbicide applicators, life safety equipment inspections, posted evacuation plans and exit signage.

Efficient: Proper door seals/weather stripping, descriptive signage, automatic lights and fixtures, comfortable temperature, operating elevators.

Appealing: Consistently maintained landscaping, painting and repair upkeep, lot sweeping, sealing & striping, clean mats, regular garbage collection, exceptional janitorial and portering (especially restrooms), exterior signage condition and lighting.

Not paying attention to any of these touch points, let alone dozens of others, can create a negative perception of your business before you even get a chance to interact with the prospect or customer face to face. Of course, it’s easier to control these functions if you own your facility, however, even as a tenant your lease should spell out the level of upkeep that is expected and whose responsibility it is to perform certain services.  If the management company isn’t living up to expectations, let the building owner know that your business is being affected because of it.  Most landlords will do whatever it takes to not only help their tenants be successful, but to keep them happy as well since there is a lot of available space on the market.

Now, when someone asks me what M|GROUP does, my answer is always “We help our clients create positive first impressions by ensuring their facilities are Safe, Compliant, Efficient and Appealing”.   We’d be happy to help create that for you.