Professional Development: Image Enhancement Services

By Mike O’Dea
Published in the March 2006 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

According to research reported in Fast Company, the way an audience interprets what a speaker is saying depends 7% on the words, 38% on vocal quality, and 55% on nonverbal communication including facial expression, physical presence, gestures, appearance, and confidence. The same is true of office space.

Clients visiting an office will develop their opinion about the company based partly on the maintenance of the office, and a well maintained space presents a positive image. But a space with chipped furniture and scuffed elevator walls can leave clients questioning the competence and awareness of the leadership.

Things left in a shoddy state can seriously affect the company—not only financially but also in overall image and reputation. As such, all buildings, retail centers, and industrial complexes should have some level of maintenance service that goes beyond the responsibilities and expertise of the normal cleaning crew.

It is inevitable that regularly used furnishings and equipment will require repairs. But, if current clients visit the office consistently and notice a lack of care, they may subconsciously start questioning whether the company will neglect details on business conducted on their behalf. When members of the target audience think of a company or organization, they will recall where they were and how they felt.

Moreover, it is becoming increasingly important to create an appealing environment to attract and retain employees. Damaged furniture and building interiors are not seen as tools for employee retention.

When it comes to appearances, it pays to be proactive. In addition to making a good impression, having an image enhancement service periodically check for damage extends the life of a building and its furnishings, maintaining and increasing property value. By the time accumulated damages are noticed, it could mean more costly repairs.

Professional service providers can also help to lengthen the time between large scale renovations. With monthly upkeep on furniture, walls, and floors, the time between remodeling can be longer and renovation results may be extended.

It often saves thousands of dollars that would be spent on replacements. “New is better” is today’s mantra, especially when it comes to computers and electronics. But when the focus is furniture, which can last generations and outlast the latest must haves, there are ways to save it.

For example, one association had a custom conference table that suffered surface damage from a water leak in the ceiling in addition to some moving damages. It cost $4,000 to refinish the table versus $25,000 to replace it.

If the overall office furniture is outdated, replacement is sometimes necessary, especially as companies are looking to attract and retain younger employees. Today, image enhancement services can usually take care of newer, more modern furniture regardless of the material so there’s no need to replace a brand new Mies van der Rohe chair if damaged.

From nicks, scratches, and gouges to removal of heat and water marks to re-gluing and structural repair, image enhancement services cover more than many may realize. Sometimes it’s just one thing that needs to be fixed. At other times, everything needs to look new.

Image enhancement services take care of touch up and repair of wood furniture, upholstery, and fine leather, but also include treating millwork such as paneling, molding, frames, doors, hardwood floors, and laminate surfaces. Often, they will even help with insurance inspection and correction.

Many repairs can be done on-site, saving money, time, and productivity because the furniture doesn’t need to be taken to a shop. Little down time is required when repairing or refinishing on-site using advanced technology. Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses don’t lose revenue, and customers don’t have to be without furniture for weeks.

Another advantage to the on-site repair option is that customers can see the furniture in its everyday environment and make adjustments to colors and highlights based on the color schemes and lighting in the room.

On-site repair also means it’s non-invasive. Employees aren’t disturbed during the day. If a client doesn’t want the repairs done after hours, an employee’s desk, for example, can be fixed while he or she is at a meeting or at lunch. However, if a company prefers to have the work done off-site, most services allow that as well.

In addition, the latest technology has enabled companies to use techniques that create no noise or odor. The products used should be water based and environmentally safe.

Image enhancement services can also help after extensive building construction, providing touch ups to furniture and floors due to rough, heavy traffic. It is important to keep the facility in top notch condition, showing customers and colleagues that everything is well maintained.

Consultants should work closely with management or maintenance employees to gain a clear understanding of the task at hand and the image the company wants to project. The later a manager brings in an image enhancement service representative, the greater chance it’s going to be a higher cost.

So while facility managers may not have branding campaigns in place, they can make a huge difference in the way their companies or organizations are perceived. Employing image enhancement services on an ongoing basis can help to support a strong corporate identity and improve reputation while saving thousands of dollars in replacement costs.

O’Dea works for Furniture Medic, a company that offers image enhancement services. For more information, visit