We all know it should be a year-round practice, but we usually spruce things up at holiday time. Company will be coming, and we don’t want them to see our home in disarray. With that spirit in mind, there’s no reason to not tidy things up in your business as well.

How does the outside of your business look? We get used to seeing the same thing every day and often overlook any deterioration until it gets very noticeable. Unfortunately, customers, prospective employees and the public may be looking at your building for the first time. And if it’s not kept in good condition, they’ll assume the business is run the same way.

Don’t chase away good workers because you have neglected to maintain your premises. Today’s market for good employees, especially technicians, is very competitive. Quality employees want to work in a nice place. Skipping simple cleanup operations and building maintenance doesn’t pay.

Your Business’ Image: Image does make a difference — even for your current employees. No self-respecting, hard-working employee wants to arrive for work every day at a location that would embarrass him.

Their opinion of the company, justified or not, will slip if they notice that no one seems to care about the appearance of the business. Morale will decline. Why should employees take extra care with their work, if no one cares about the appearance of their own building?

When managers demonstrate the workplace must be kept clean and orderly, employees are quick to meet the standard. It begins with the appearance of the facilities, both outside and inside.

The same attitude that permits a messy or dirty facility carries over to the whole operation. Details are overlooked. Employees get the message accuracy is not important. The worst part is it is contagious. Most employees will follow management’s lead. When they see managers or owners letting things go, they follow suit — even little things like making sure all the waste is dumped every day so there are no little creatures or weird smells coming from trash receptacles.

The attitude — positive or negative — of the management and employees of a business spread to the point it affects the whole operation. For example, have you seen employment applications that are third-generation copies of an original that vanished years ago? That’s one more sign of a company that leaves applicants guessing whether the company runs everything that way.

Are the uniforms your technicians wear clean and in good repair? Or are they still wearing any old dirty, greasy T-shirts they happen to find laying around? Customers will rapidly respond positively to clean, neat professionals; and just as quickly they will be repulsed by technicians they see wearing filthy, unprofessional outfits.

None of these items appear on the profit and loss statements — at least not directly. However, messy and dirty facilities and a sloppy way of running a business does show up, without delay, when you measure customer satisfaction, repeat business or the number of times customers refuse to agree to the repair work once it has been diagnosed. Loss of business can be the result of low standards for appearance, cleanliness and attitude of technicians and other employees. All because management let the standards slip.

A coat of paint on the interior or exterior of a building or warehouse can make an old building look new. Paint doesn’t cost much, even if you pay a contractor to apply it. Some businesses have had painting parties with employees, where employees volunteer some time to help keep the facilities looking sharp.

Managers and owners usually chip in for pizza and beverages. These team efforts build spirit as well as improve the appearance of the building. Even a new car will soon look dirty and uncared for if it is not washed occasionally. The same is true for building maintenance. Timely cleaning and attention to the appearance of the building will make a difference. The attitude and morale of employees will be affected favorably. Plus you will avoid scaring away quality employees.

Check It Out: Now is a good time to examine your facilities (and maybe the morale) of your company. Take a close look and give an honest opinion. Look at other shops. Are the highest quality shops, the ones with the best reputation, in any better shape than yours?

Solicit employee suggestions on how to spruce the place up a little for the holidays. They will be happy to make suggestions and may want to volunteer some time to make your facilities look their best. At the same time their team spirit and attitudes toward working there will undoubtedly improve. Soon customers and the public will notice. Your company’s image will zoom. All because you took a close look around — and took some action.

What’s your building going to look like this holiday season ... and beyond? Start now.