The retail industry is absolutely enormous; in the United States alone, there are 3.8 million retail establishments, supporting 42 million jobs and $2.6 trillion in total GDP impact. In fact, retail employs more Americans than any other industry. Operating a successful retail business in such an expansive and competitive industry requires excellent organization and management with the help of intuitive technology.
For retail business owners, the effective maintenance and management of their facilities is critical for success. When customers visit the store, they expect a clean, well-maintained facility with a cohesive brand experience across multiple locations. As a retail facilities manager, this is easier said than done. But thanks to emerging technology like service automation, achieving these goals can become a reality.
What is Service Automation
Service automation is a technology platform that helps facilities managers manage maintenance across multiple facilities in the most efficient and cost-effective way as possible. It automates tasks that were once done manually so that they can be accomplished faster and easier, and facilities teams are not left feeling swamped with tedious workflows. Organizations can track work orders, complete proposals and invoices, track physical assets, and compile reports — all from a single dashboard.
In this post, we will look at the seven major ways that service automation technology can support retail facilities management.
1. Reduce Human Error
When people do mundane tasks over and over, errors are bound to happen. Whether it’s work orders not being accurately updated, contractor names being spelled wrong, or inaccurate budgeting information, these mistakes can be costly for the facilities team.
With service automation, you can easily integrate your existing processes and data into a secured dashboard. The technical team will set up the service automation platform so that it easily feeds in your existing stored data, ensuring that nothing is lost. Then, moving forward, you can access all your data from a single, cloud-based dashboard and FMs can enter facility maintenance requests directly into the system at any location, and work orders are accurately routed to the appropriate contractor.
2. Better Visibility Into Spend & Reporting Insights
Service automation technology can give retail facilities managers insight into impactful, visual-based analytics capable of historical, current, and predictive views of business operations. Easy access to meaningful insights is especially helpful for retail companies that have multiple locations, as reports can present information from all facilities in a single dashboard.
Retail facilities managers can use reporting insights to get a clear picture of their service spend across all trades, categories, locations, and contractors. Then, retail FMs are able to easily answer questions and make effective, data-backed decisions aimed at reducing FM spend.
For example, a service automation platform could analyze a retail location’s spend over the last six months and notice that a large amount of money is being delegated to HVAC maintenance, with minimal results. The service automation platform could then provide these insights to the retail FM, who can now go about employing a more cost-effective solution. In fact, one global retailer used this feature of service automation and found a 30% reduction in facilities spend.
3. Ensure Compliance
Ensuring that contractors are compliant is a major way to mitigate operational risk, as compliant contractors are up-to-date on their certifications. Service automation provides tools that retail facilities managers can use to help them manage contractor compliance like tracking credentials, financial status, certification expirations, insurances and licenses, and more.
With service automation, retail FMs can view contractor profiles, download their W9 and sales tax reports, look at their rates, and see insurance information. Retail facilities managers can also view the compliance statuses of service providers and send notifications to those who are not marked as compliant. Having a quick, easy way to ensure contractor compliance saves time, which busy retail facilities managers are always short of.
4. Increase Operational Efficiency
Service automation streamlines processes, opening the door for time and cost savings in many ways. First and foremost, service automation takes tasks that once required daily attention, like work order management, off of retail facilities managers’ plates. By automating routine tasks and creating more efficient workflows, facilities managers can focus on those tasks that truly need attention, directly impacting the operational effectiveness of the team.
5. Brand Preservation
Retail relies heavily on brand uptime; brand appearance and experience are extremely important to retail customers. The state of retail facilities has an enormous impact on branding, helping to shape how consumers view brands and directly affecting their shopping experience. Therefore, it is essential that retail FMs have all the tools necessary to help them keep retail facilities in optimal condition.
By standardizing and automating work order procedures and providing planned maintenance scheduling features, service automation helps facilities managers ensure that retail spaces are in the best shape. In these ways, service automation supports customer experiences, creating loyal customers and strengthening brands.
6. Lower Costs
Employing service automation can help your company cut down on overall costs since you won’t be paying for extra employees to do administrative tasks like doing manual work orders and invoices. With less time spent entering data and processing, facilities staff can spend more time doing work that will help achieve internal goals. Basically, you’ll be using fewer resources to run a leaner and more efficient team.
Also, with the ability to track your assets across enterprises and locations you can determine whether to invest in repairs or replace a given asset. Basically, you can expect better budgeting overall and the elimination of unnecessary costs.
7. Improve Customer Satisfaction
With an automated work order system, facilities can ensure that urgent requests are completed in a timely manner. Facilities managers will receive automatic alerts throughout the process on the progress of the work order – for example, if a contractor has been assigned to it yet, if the work is in progress, or if it’s been completed.
Service automation allows easier communication between facilities staff which translates to happier customers. It ensures that work is done in a high-quality and timely manner and customers don’t experience any interruptions that would effect their in-store experience. When staff feel freed of mundane tasks and have modern tools at their fingertips like service automation, team morale improves, which leads to higher quality work, and higher satisfied customers.
Service automation is able to support retail facilities managers by increasing productivity and reducing spend, but perhaps the most important benefit of this technology is its ability to improve the customer experience. When customers have good experiences in retail locations, they are more likely to return, to support the brand online, and to share their experience with their network.