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Responding to COVID-19: One national retail bank updated its maintenance strategy with nightly cleanings and new HVAC filters

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread through the U.S., companies deemed essential were allowed to continue business—but there was nothing usual about it. One national retail bank worked to limit face-to-face interactions at its branches by revamping its approach to customer service: restricting the number of people allowed inside, leveraging drive-through options, and requiring appointments. And immediate changes to its maintenance strategy—including both preventative and reactive measures—were required to maintain a safe environment for employees and customers.

To help limit cases of COVID-19

Enhanced cleaning services

Nightly cleaning services were increased to occur every operating day—that’s a 20 percent increase. The scope of work was also updated to include using high-concentrate cleaners to disinfect high-touch areas like light switches, keyboards, door handles, ATMs, elevator call buttons, and more.

66% of consumers said that when they do return to stores, they’re interested in seeing frequent cleaning/sanitizing

International Council of Shopping Centers

On-site porter

High-traffic branches opted to bring in a porter (i.e., a provider who stays on-site for a few hours performing janitorial services) during operating hours on its busiest days, usually around the middle and end of each month. These services supplement the nightly cleanings that every branch receives.

Upgraded HVAC filters

Each branch upgraded its HVAC filters to help remove more potentially harmful particles from the air. We recommend opting for a filter with a high minimum efficiency reporting value like MERV-13 to trap smaller particles.

“Improve central air filtration to the MERV-13 or the highest compatible with the filter rack.”

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

For presumed or confirmed cases of COVID-19

If a branch experiences a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19, it is immediately closed, and the corporate team directly contacts its SMS Assist support team. Within 12 hours, we schedule a provider to arrive on-site within 48 hours. The provider follows guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to disinfect the entire location using the high-concentrate cleaning materials. The branch then waits 48 hours before it reopens.

The takeaways

Every business is taking its own approach to handling this pandemic, but every business needs to do something. Here are some takeaways from how this retail bank is doing it.

Examine your organization’s procedures

If you already have a cleaning program in place, evaluate if it is doing everything you need it to. If your program doesn’t include disinfecting high-touch areas with materials known to combat COVID-19, it needs an update. And if you don’t have a cleaning program at all, now is the time to implement one. On top of cleaning, there are so many other changes you can make that could have a large impact on your locations’ safety, including touchless doors and point of sale barriers or sneeze guards.

Be strategic with your program

Are there certain days of the month that you know are busier for your business? Those are the days you should consider enlisting more help for your in-store team by bringing a porter on-site during operating hours to disinfect, remove trash and debris, sweep and mop, and more. This retail bank opted for a couple days a month, but you can choose what works for your needs.

Plan for the worst-case scenario

What will you do if you have a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19 at your facility? Do you have providers lined up that can be on-site in as early as 12 hours? Are they equipped with the proper methods and equipment to sanitize your location? These are all questions you should be ready to answer. By working with a provider like SMS Assist, you’ll have a partner to take care of it for you so you can have peace of mind if the need arises.

Talk about the steps you’re taking

This retail bank has published the efforts it is taking to make its branches safer for its employees and customers, including its enhanced cleanings. By taking proactive steps—like implementing a cleaning program, updating HVAC filters, and more—you’ll be able to confidently talk about your approach and instill peace of mind in everyone walking through your doors.

What is SMS Assist?

SMS Assist is on a mission to transform the facilities maintenance industry by delivering unprecedented transparency and control. More than 186,000 commercial properties—like retail stores, banks, restaurants, and more—and residential rental properties leverage our cloud-based platform to connect to more than 20,000 service providers and our operations teams that are available every second of every day. It’s a new approach for an industry in need of a better solution.

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