You’ve been thinking about an open store remodel for months, maybe years, but worry that dust, noise, and chaos will drive customers away and negatively impact your bottom line. You delay and delay again, struggling in a space you’ve outgrown or that no longer serves your needs. Sound familiar? It does to us. We hear these concerns all the time.
While open store remodels aren’t invisible, disruption can be kept to a minimum by following a few proven best practices. Whether your “store” is retail or a restaurant, bank branch, or other facility, business doesn’t have to slow to a frustrating crawl. Everyone on site can stay safe, and your project can move forward on track and on time with your revenue stream intact.
To explore these best practices, we recently sat down with some of EMG’s open store remodel experts. With decades of collective experience overseeing thousands of projects, Chris Varney, Tracy Follmer, and Eric Berger understand how to balance the need to remodel with the need to conduct business as usual. Here’s what they recommend:
Best Practice #1: Set Clear and Comprehensive Expectations from Day One
Nothing can cause more frustration, confusion, and delay than poorly set project expectations. Before boots hit the ground, a clear vision for your open store remodel needs to be set. What will happen during construction? What will the site look like every morning and evening? Will a section of the site need to be closed during business hours and, if so, for how long? Who on the team is responsible for what? Setting “no surprises” expectations requires a project manager with a solid understanding of how your business functions, the ability to anticipate daily challenges, and big picture vision matched by attention to detail. Choose yours carefully.
Best Practice #2: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Good communication is essential for the ongoing implementation of expectations, helping all involved in an open store remodel to understand project scope, individual responsibilities, and how their work fits into the greater whole. Ask that your team determine a communication protocol at the earliest stages of planning. Insist on a review of that protocol in any kick-off call or initial site visit, and even consider a weekly full team check-in call. Don’t forget to establish lines of communication for raising yellow or red flags should a complication arise. Minor issues should never be left unaddressed to spiral into disruptive problems.
Best Practice #3: Prioritize Safety – All Day, Every Day
No shortcuts. Period. Bad safety-related decisions during an open store remodel can put customers and employees alike in real jeopardy. Plan for barricades and plastic sheeting, and make sure everyone on site knows not to move these barriers without proper authorization and alerts for team members or employees arriving later. Keep accessibility routes clear, or put temporary alternatives in place. A daily walk-through, nightly hand-off, and/or safety checklist will also go a long way toward preventing unnecessary accidents. Find a project manager who will use at least one of these methods to drive home the “safety first” message and promote a consistently secure environment throughout the construction process.
Best Practice #4: Create a Realistic Schedule and Hold to It
When it comes to designing an open store remodel schedule, ask that your project manager be as specific as possible when pulling everything together. What needs to happen on any given day? Who needs to be on site? When will materials be ordered and delivered, and who will accept delivery? Precise scheduling can prevent your project from coming to a grinding halt while you wait on a piece of essential equipment or a team member who wasn’t expecting to be on site that day. Build your schedule collaboratively so that it is realistic and “owned” by all stakeholders. Then do your best to stay the course!
Best Practice #5: Ensure Your Budget Reflects True Project Scope
It takes an experienced project manager to oversee the creation of a budget that captures the full scope of an open store remodel and facilitates a timely close-out with your general contractor. No one wants to be confronted with a stack of unexpected change orders that could have been avoided with thoughtful planning and attention to budget detail. Once a budget has been created, check to see that general contracting bids incorporate every item. If you’re not careful, “Wow, that’s a great bid!” could easily turn out to be one that has ignored key project elements.
These five best practices can be leveraged for a single open store remodel or used to create a reliable playbook for efficient multi-store scalability across a regional or national project. We can’t guarantee that your work won’t attract customer attention, but that attention can be positive rather than negative – friendly curiosity and anticipation of all the good things to come.
Want to learn more? Download EMG’s Open Store Remodel Tip Sheet for additional suggestions from our pros!
About our contributors:
Chris Varney is Executive Vice President of Sales with EMG. Chris has over 20 years of construction management experience in new concept and national expansion roll-out programs as both an owner’s representative and as a general contractor. Chris is responsible for overseeing well over 3,000 nationwide projects and programs annually, with values ranging from $2K to $100MM.
Tracy Follmer is a Senior Project Manager with EMG with over 20 years of industry experience. Tracy is responsible for supervising, training, and guiding the teams in managing all aspects of the project lifecycle. Tracy's expertise includes new store and remodel projects for national restaurant, grocery, and retail chains.
Eric Berger is a Lead Project Manager with EMG with over 13 years of industry experience responsible for leading teams across complex projects for nationwide big box retail stores, department stores, and restaurants chains with $150 million annual spend.