Invariably, Facility Managers (FMs) are focused on how their facilities look inside.  Current maintenance and preventive maintenance, as applied to cleaning, HVAC systems, and lighting are always key concerns… and rightly so.

Things such as lighting, cooling and heating, and the overall cleanliness of a facility are on the top of the list for most building users as well.  If something is amiss with any of these, the manager will likely hear about it, and soon.

However, what sometimes gets overlooked is the exterior of the facility. Over time, we tend to become accustomed to exterior changes and no longer even notice deterioration.  Building users as well fail to notice changes. 

However, a visitor to a facility may notice these things as soon as they arrive at the building. Further, with warmer weather approaching, building users and visitors will likely spend more time outdoors.  This means any exterior blemishes will become much more noticeable.

To address this situation, FMs need to take a fresh look at the exterior of their facilities.  Even better, ask an FM from another facility to take a look.  Among the things they should investigate are the following:

•    Is paint peeling on the exterior of the building?

•    Have dust and debris built up on ledges and around windows?

•    Is the parking lot clean? 

•    Are walkways clean and free of gum buildup and cigarette butts?

•    Are the trash cans and recycling containers clean and not overflowing?

•    Are there bird droppings on the building or sidewalks?

•    How about the landscaping?  Are plants overgrown?  Are there dead plants or tree limbs that should be removed?

•    Is the exterior signage clean and in working order?

•    If exterior matting is used, is it clean and in good repair?

These adverse conditions can all have a negative impact on how the facility looks and are very likely to be noticed by first-time visitors to a building.  Further, some of these issues can have more severe repercussions than we may realize.  For instance:

Bird Droppings

Bird droppings spread disease and infection.  They can be acidic enough to corrode metal and deface building exteriors.  On walkways, bird droppings can make the path slippery, posing a hazard.


If birds are nesting in trees, be aware that feathers and nesting debris can gather in landscaped areas.  However, nesting debris can also collect and clog exterior drains and gutters.

Gum Buildup

Not only is gum buildup on walkways unsightly, but it can also make walkways slippery, and if it collects on shoe bottoms, it can be walked into building lobbies and walkways, making them unsightly as well.  In some cases, gum buildup can permanently mar the appearance of some types of walkway materials.

Peeling Paint

Whenever we see peeling paint on virtually any type of facility, it gives the impression of neglect.  If courting new tenants, it tells the potential renters that this building is operating on a “deferred” maintenance basis. This means not only the paint, but other areas of the facility likely need maintenance as well. Further, peeling paint tends to invite graffiti.


Since many organizations work more than one shift, check that exterior lighting is in working order. Adequate lighting promotes safety for building users.

FMs typically believe the upkeep of their facilities is a reflection on them.  While this is especially true when it comes to the interior of the building, the exterior should never be overlooked.  It, too, is a reflection of how a facility is operated and managed.

Ron Segura has over 45 years of experience in all segments of the professional cleaning industry including ten years as Manager of Janitorial Operations for Walt Disney Pictures and Television. To contact him, call 650-315-8933.