Operating a small to midsize business day-to-day is more than a full-time job for owners and operators. Keeping up with customer requests, supply chain issues, and staffing needs is enough to keep management on their toes – especially during these times.

While most owners recognize that maintaining their space can help save money by avoiding issues down the road, it’s often something that falls to the wayside.

Commercial spaces can get run-down quickly – from foot traffic to running the operations of your business, it’s likely your physical space is going to take a beating from employees and customers alike.

Here are some prevention tips to get you started:

  1. Get organized: Your general contractor should supply you with a list of subcontractors and a maintenance schedule once your build is complete. Read that packet carefully, schedule maintenance items in your calendar, and ask your contractor any questions.

  2. Prioritize: There is the perfect world, and then there is reality. While it might be impossible to do everything, it’s important to protect your high investment and high-risk assets. Replacing dry wall isn’t as costly as replacing an HVAC unit, for example. Consider your highest priorities: maintaining a piece of equipment that could cause a fire if not serviced properly should be on the top of your to-do list.

  3. HVAC Maintenance: Sign up for a Heating/ Ventilation/ Air Conditioning maintenance plan with your HVAC vendor of choice. This ongoing check will help catch any issues early. Ideally, this will help prevent issues like getting stuck on a 100-degree day with no air conditioning. You need fully functional units year-round for climate control. This is important not only for the comfort of your employees and customers but also for your space. Major temperature changes can impact the expansion and contraction of materials such as wood, causing additional unwanted issues. The cost of quarterly or semi-annual check-ups will almost surely reduce the cost of repairs or emergency service calls down the road.

  4. Floors: As a rule of thumb, porous flooring materials like concrete, hardwood, stone, tile and more will require regular sealing to help protect from damage and increase the product’s lifespan. Check with your general contractor, but more often than not your floors will require some type of regular maintenance to keep them in great condition.

  5. Walls: Like other parts of your space, you’ll have the option to invest more upfront and save maintenance costs down the road. Steel, tile, wood, and LVT will not need as much maintenance as drywall with inexpensive wallpaper, for example. If the wallpaper cuts, you’ll not only have to repair the wallpaper but you’ll need to replace the drywall as well. And your walls will likely take a beating, especially if you’re running a restaurant. If walls are an area where you need to save money though, there are other options for wall protection such as chair rails. The chair rails will give the chairs something to knock into so you don’t dent your walls over and over again.

  6. Water: Water is something to look out for anywhere, anytime. If there is a mysterious puddle, not only does it need to be mopped up immediately, but you’ll want to figure out the source – a wall? The roof? Seeping through the foundation? Small leaks can become expensive repairs quickly, and the sooner you identify and fix the problem the easier it will be.

  7. The forgotten items: How often do you think about your carbon monoxide detector at home? Do you change your smoke alarm batteries twice a year? Your commercial space can fall into the same rut, so make sure your maintenance checklist includes easily forgotten items as well. You will want to check your fire extinguisher to ensure it’s in good working condition. If you own or manage a restaurant, be sure you are cleaning out your grease trap. Every type of space has items that tend to be forgotten – use your checklist as your guide and set reminders to review it often.

  8. Cleaning: No matter what materials you use, your space will be more resilient if you clean and sanitize it regularly – daily at least, with monthly deep cleaning. Depending on your business, you might need more. Cleaning will not only protect your investment in materials but can also prevent ‘slip and fall’ accidents. The added benefit of cleaning is that your team will notice problems earlier, with the ability to fix them before they turn into larger issues.

The key with all these items is simple: be proactive. Don’t wait until something breaks.

Create a recurring calendar notice with reminders, and/or get on the subcontractors ongoing maintenance lists so you don’t miss a beat. Work with your general contractor to create a maintenance checklist – and stick with it.

It’s easy to let your building go while you focus on your business. But it’s worth the investment in both time and money to focus on prevention.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Reach out if you have any questions.