Make daily upkeep a must-do chore
By Linda Cahan
Your employees should be trained in the art of keeping your store in top shape. Clutter, dust and stains visually degrade your store and your merchandise. Sticky shelves or dust on products says you’re not busy, and these products don’t sell well. Customers will wonder, “If no one else is buying them, why should I?”
Start the process of doling out cleaning duties to employees with an inspection. Bring in the pickiest person you know, ask them to rigorously inspect your store(s), then treat him or her to a great dinner. Someone who isn’t in your store frequently will see things you’ve been avoiding.
Next, figure out exactly what employees need to do to maintain the look and feel of your store. This includes daily cleaning chores: straightening merchandise on the shelves and any displays; dusting merchandise; dusting decorative pieces, including fake plants/flowers; making sure signs are in good shape and in the right places; filling in empty areas on shelves and walls; removing clutter; and cleaning the bathroom daily. It only takes one careless person to make a customer feel like the store doesn’t care enough to keep this vital room clean.
Big cleanings belong to cleaning companies. These include deep cleaning the floors, bathrooms and dusting in places you forget about. The other visual major maintenance chores include replacing burnt-out lights (far less often if you have LEDs), keeping outdoor signage lit and keeping outdoor banners or blowups clean.
If you have a regular cleaning staff, your employees may perceive cleaning tasks as below their pay grade. There is no easy way to get people to enjoy this aspect of their job, but rewards work far better than punishment. If possible, give the person who keeps their area cleanest a paid hour off once a week.
Training employees for proper cleaning duty will require buy-in from your staff. Every store has a grump or two who feels above the law because of longevity, age or sales figures. If you let them get away with not doing daily chores, you’ll lose everyone. Likewise, if you have people who are disabled, find something they can still do.
They need to be a part of this for it to work.
Give each person a section of the store they take care of daily or weekly. In that way, you can keep track of whether they are doing what you asked.
Is this all a pain in the rear? Of course. Can it make a difference in how your store is remembered, shopped and talked about? Definitely. Customers will feel more confident in you, your store, the merchandise and your service when the store is clean and neat. If an employee isn’t willing to help, he or she may not be a great loss in the long run. If you implement a cleaning program after reading this article, we want to hear from you: How did it go over and how has it benefited your store?
Example cleaning task sheet for showroom staff
Façade and front door area
- Sweep on a weekly schedule unless weather conditions require more often
- Remove ice and snow on the sidewalk, and melted water from the floor, constantly during the winter. Make sure people can get into your store safely from the street and parking lot
- Straighten out any outside trash cans or signs
- Place promotional signs so they can be seen, not tripped over
- Look at the sight lines from the front door and straighten or fix anything that looks messy or out of place.
Checkout and water testing desk areas
- Neat, clean, dusted daily
- No delivery boxes on the floor where customers can see them
- Personal effects are below the desk top area
- Fill in any countertop fixtures that hold smaller pick-up items for sale
- Dust spas, make sure all the signs are neat, straight and facing in the same direction if appropriate
- Dust florals, plants and trees
- If there is a video, make sure it’s turned on
- Straighten and properly attach spa stairs
- Fill or maintain the test spa
- Make sure posters are straight and anything taped to the wall is not falling down
- If there is obvious dirt on the floor and the cleaning crew (if they exist) won’t be there for hours or days, clean it up
LINDA CAHAN is an internationally known expert in visual merchandising strategy and store design. She gives seminars, workshops, trains and consults for chain stores and independent retailers. Along with SpaRetailer, she writes for several other retail magazines, and is the author of two books and seven corporate visual standards manuals. Cahan lives in West Linn, Oregon. lindacahan.com