Luxury retailers are a brand apart. They must create an atmosphere that is boutique-like and very elegant, completely different from other retailers. It is the customer experience that truly defines how luxurious the brand is. Here, FacilitySource reviews what the role of facilities management (FM) is in creating that experience, which is something most often done behind the scenes.
FacilitySource Reviews the Elements of Luxury FM
First of all, in a luxury retail facility, failure must be avoided at all costs. This includes problems with the lights, with climate control, with security, and with plumbing. Security is particularly important as luxury brands have a bigger threat. Hence, it is vital that those systems work at 100% capacity but in such a way that the customer does not feel caged. Maintenance has to happen, but this should be when there are no customers around. Additionally, energy efficiency improvements should be made but not in such a way that they make the environment less comfortable.
Secondly, luxury brand customers are not keen on outsourcing. Their trust in the brand comes from the company’s own operations. Consumers expect in house commitment to quality, customer service, and skills. However, most FM is now outsourced to specialized companies. This should not be prominently displayed, therefore. This is another reason why things such as maintenance should be done only when customers are not present. At the same time, consumers of luxury brands expect that companies have technicians on call at all times if something does go wrong. Finding a balance in that is a particular challenge faced by these brands.
Thirdly, luxury retail stores must ensure their managers, external partners, and employees collaborate properly at all times. Consumers do not want to know what goes on behind the scenes, hear about office politics, or witness to any kind of disciplinary actions. Additionally, they should not see any signs of work that doesn’t directly relate to them. For instance, they do not need to see a stepladder in the changing rooms because a light bulb had to be changed. Luxury retail is about creating an environment that appears completely hassle-free on the surface.
In 2011, one highly iconic New York City luxury retailer was able to save over $1 million by implementing a full FM system. What set them apart, however, was that their customers were not aware of this at all. They were never disrupted by the company switching to an external partner and they have since never been disrupted by inconveniences such as an elevator that doesn’t work or a light bulb that has blown. When people shop for luxury items, they expect their experience to be equally luxury. This means that FM, which is essential to the operations of any business regardless of how luxurious they are, must be done completely behind the scenes. On the one hand, consumers expect everything to function properly but, on the other hand, they do not ever want to be reminded of the fact that some things don’t always work the way they should.