By Fred Wehby
According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, 86 percent of U.S. adults have a negative perception of a retail store when the floors are dirty. Similar Harris polls found 85 percent of consumers would not rebook at a hotel and 68 percent would never return to a restaurant if the floors were unclean. These polls demonstrate how floor image directly impacts a business’s brand.
Even more important than image, floors must be safe. Balancing the demand for safe and attractive floors with tight budgets can present facility managers with a substantial challenge, one that building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house service providers—and their suppliers—should be prepared to help facility management meet.
Common Flooring Obstacles
Common flooring challenges include:
Worn flooring. Businesses purchase flooring expecting it to last for decades, but often find it looking worn, soiled, or dull after only a few years. A recent study conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction revealed that facility managers anticipate new carpet to last at least 11 years. However, most facilities replace carpet after only six to nine years. Replacing floors is expensive. Costs include removing old flooring, installing new flooring, and lost revenue due to business disruptions.
Dirt accumulation. One square yard of commercial carpeting captures one pound of dirt per week, which can cost as much as US$600 to remove, according to ISSA’s 447 Cleaning Times. In inclement weather, the amount of accumulated dirt can double, leading to increased costs. Tile and other hard floor surfaces accumulate dirt as well, leading to darkened or discolored grout lines and tiles.
Slips and falls. Most facility managers need guidance in developing floor care programs that help reduce slip and fall risks. Slips and falls are costly and can ruin a business’ reputation and damage the brand. The National Safety Council estimates that more than 9 million disabling slips and falls occur each year with costs averaging more than US$20,000 per claim. Meanwhile, the average cost to defend against a slip and fall lawsuit is $50,000, and the average judgment awarded in cases that go to trial is $100,000, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI).