Many finance and operations executives think of their facilities program as a chore — another line item on a long list of unavoidable expenses.
Landscaping, parking lot repairs, painting and HVAC might be a necessary cost of doing business, they reason, but wherever possible these things should be done as cheaply and quickly as possible so the company can focus and invest on what’s actually important.
This line of thinking often leads facilities teams to be under resourced, overworked and under appreciated by management.
That’s discouraging to the facilities team, who often work nights and weekends troubleshooting emergencies to keep the business operating. But I’d argue that this attitude is more than just callous management: it’s a strategic mistake.
In every industry, whether it’s retail, fitness, or healthcare, technology is enabling competition to circumvent traditional brick and mortar and serve the customer a virtual storefront online. Amazon in retail, Peloton in fitness and Teladoc in healthcare are just a few of the many goliaths this new wave of internet-enabled innovation has created.
The pandemic has accelerated the growth of these internet-enabled new market entrants.
Now more than ever, for incumbents looking to compete with their new high-tech competitors, that means they need to give customers a reason to close their laptop, get off their couch, get in their car, put on a mask and come to them.
It is no longer good enough to just provide a functional space where a person can buy paper towels, run on a treadmill or talk to a doctor.
The modern customer today can do all of these things without leaving their living room.
In a world where a trip to the store, the gym or the hospital is no longer strictly necessary, the goal of a facilities program needs to also shift to making it desirable.
That means delivering a customer experience that delights. It means going the extra mile and exceeding customer expectations.
Yes, it means ensuring lights are on and the cracks in the parking lot get filled, but it might also mean turning down the lights to make your gym feel like a nightclub or painting your parking lot striping a branded color so your customer knows they’ve arrived at your store before they even get out of their car.
Going the extra mile has always cost a bit more money, and in a pandemic no business wants to spend carelessly.
But now more than ever, creating a differentiating in-person experience is not just a cost — it’s a strategic necessity.