Nov 01, 2023
By Ben Gardner

4 Proven Cost-Saving Strategies for Retail Facilities Management

With economic headwinds and operational costs escalating, facilities managers (FMs) are increasingly seeing their budgets being slashed. In fact, nearly half (48%) of FMs reported that their budget either remained flat or decreased last year.

The result of this is that retail establishments must cut costs and save money wherever they can, so as not to stretch these budgets even further.

Many have already begun using technology to improve operations and streamline FM. But in order to keep offering the best possible customer experience on a tighter budget, facilities managers and retail operations must continue to make informed decisions and they can use smart technology to help them do this.

The good news is there are several ways retailers can reduce costs without compromising the customer or employee experience.


1. Better maintenance planning

Facilities maintenance can be challenging at the best of times, but it becomes even tougher when budgets are being stretched. This is why careful maintenance planning needs to be an integral part of your FM cost reduction strategy.

You know what they say, prevention is better than cure, and that applies to facilities management too. Rather than waiting for an emergency or equipment failure to trigger action, regular preventive maintenance can help to avoid those unexpected costs.

But unfortunately, when things get busy and money is tight, preventative maintenance tends to be one of the first things pushed to the bottom of the list, and delayed tasks can lead to future breakdowns that end up costing even more to fix.

Therefore, data plays a significant role in maintenance planning for retailers, contributing to more efficient and cost-effective operations. For example, Circle K were able to see that their fountain machines were down for repairs every few weeks in one region in North America, which impacted revenue at those stores.

Visualizing performance data allowed them to drill into the details to find the root cause of why they were down. After evaluating the situation and putting preventative maintenance measures in place, they were able to reduce the downtime of these revenue generating assets, both boosting revenue and improving the customer experience.

Automated maintenance planning is a proven method for extending the life of your assets and reducing maintenance costs in the long run. So, by focusing on FM schedules, retailers can prevent these tasks from being ignored and resulting in larger, more costly emergencies that cause bigger disruptions to the daily running of the store.

What’s more, automation allows FMs to gather useful data and pull helpful insights that enable them to clearly understand the cost benefit of repair versus replace. Further promoting the importance of effective maintenance planning.


2. Automating time-consuming tasks

Facilities managers have to tackle a large volume of tasks on a daily basis in order to keep everything running smoothly. Doing so manually can be very time-consuming and costly, and in today’s retail environment, this is no longer the most feasible option.

Instead, it’s better to use IoT devices and FM software to automate the most demanding and time-consuming tasks. Not only does this better manage tedious tasks, but as these get done quicker, it is also a great way to cut costs and free up time to focus on more pressing issues.

As we’ve briefly touched on above, you can automate maintenance planning to ensure preventative FM is handled. But there are lots of other ways this technology can be used as well, including automating HVAC and lighting maintenance, sending work orders, scheduling payments, stock management, and more.

These tools can also help managers to collect data, which in turn, can lead to useful insights that help them to streamline facilities management even further in the future.

Another real-world example of cost-saving is how one London Theatre was able to save over 2,000 hours a year on compliance by replacing manual monitoring with automated data insights.

Not only that but a well-known global convenience store retailer used FM software to automate work orders for drive-thru incidents in which cars quite literally drove into their store windows. Something which is a daily occurrence for this chain.

By automating processes wherever possible, FM teams can reduce time, effort, and costs, whilst freeing up their own time to focus on creating better customer experiences and tackling other pressing matters.


3. Controlling energy efficiency

A great way to cut FM-associated costs is to lower energy consumption and make retail environments more energy efficient. There are several ways this can be done, for instance, regular maintenance of fridges is one of the top ways a convenience retailer can reduce energy costs. Not only this but replacing old open fridges to those with doors can significantly reduce energy consumption.

Some other ways to make stores more efficient include; updating lighting fixtures with more efficient bulbs, adding better glazing to windows and doors, and introducing enhanced wall insulation. While this will present an immediate cost, it is an investment that will save money on heating and energy bills in the long run.

A great example of this is, in 2003, a popular Supermarket chain, overhauled its lighting, refrigeration and HVAC to meet company-wide energy management goals. By introducing new lamps across 1,200 stores, they were able to reduce energy usage by 27%. The savings from this initiative were equivalent to eliminating energy use entirely in 457 of its stores.

As well as being proactive and investing in energy-efficient initiatives like this, it’s also vital that you consistently monitor and track energy usage across your stores. That way, facilities managers can utilize this data to introduce informed cost-saving measures in the future.

In some locations, energy efficient initiatives like this can actually entitle businesses to tax cuts or other monetary incentives. However, it’s worth noting that this is very much location-dependent and FMs would have to do research in the local area to find out what (if anything) they are entitled to.


4. Build strong partnerships

Our fourth and final cost-saving solution is to forge strong partnerships with relevant suppliers and service providers. These could be larger companies that provide inventory to retailers, but they could also be smaller local tradespeople as well.

By partnering with providers and suppliers that you already use regularly, you’re more likely to secure discounted rates and favorable contracts with them. This will help to cut costs on regular maintenance as well as emergency call-outs, while also improving response times and, therefore customer experience.

This can also help FMs and Operations to stay on top of inventory and supplies. So not only can you save money this way, but you can also maximize value and create a collaborative relationship that benefits both parties.


Are you ready to start saving money?

From lowering energy consumption within the retail environment to better maintenance planning, automation, and forging partnerships, there are several proven methods for saving money on facilities management.

By implementing any one of these cost-saving initiatives, you can help to cut spending without compromising on the customer or employee experience. And if you introduce several of these methods, you could really start to see some serious savings.

Of course, technology will play an important role in automating these time-consuming tasks, as well as reducing energy usage, and getting stronger predictive/preventative maintenance strategies in place.