A city block in the SoHo section of New York City remains empty due to the Coronavirus outbreak.Coronavirus Outbreak, New York, USA - 17 Mar 2020

As the coronavirus outbreak triggered a massive amount of temporary store closures, facilities repair company MaintenX International has some suggestions for retailers and brands during this “dark store” period, which includes using the closed store time to make repairs while also maintaining “curb appeal.”

“While dark stores do not see the same foot traffic as regular storefronts, regular preventative and reactive maintenance is still an important component of success,” MaintenX said in a statement.

The company recommends making repairs during this period. “Don’t leave repairs for the future,” the company said. “Use this unexpected downtime without employees and customers to complete noisy, messy maintenance or upgrades. This will also provide something to look forward to when the storefront opens again.”

MaintenX also noted that “curb appeal” still matters, and “dark store” maintenance plans should include merging aesthetics as well as safety. The company recommends “examining exterior features like building paint, window condition, parking lots and doorway, entrance lighting for signs of aging and damage” and noted that these maintenance needs “can improve the look of a business and reduce the likelihood of injury or theft at the property.”

Bill Schaphorst, vice president of business development at MaintenX, said especially during the uncertainty generated by COVID-19, “it’s important for businesses to maintain dark stores so they can resume operations as quickly as possible after the pandemic subsides.”

“A well-managed dark storefront can quickly be reopened and is a positive reminder of your presence to people in the community,” he added. “In addition, should you choose to rent or sell your storefront in the future, a properly maintained property provides a much stronger sell.”

The company also noted the importance of properly landscaped properties. “Colorful flowers, healthy trees and nicely trimmed bushes go a long way to patrons and are a positive reminder of the products and services you offer,” MaintenX said. “By maintaining landscaping, a dark store can look fantastic and signal that a shop cares about their business and their community.”

And finally, this period of shuttered stores can be used by brands and retailers to create preventative maintenance plans, to help “reduce the likelihood of expensive, unexpected breakdowns to important systems like HVAC, plumbing and electrical. Routine maintenance can also help stop a minor issue — like a leaky pipe — from turning into a costly major disaster.”