Chapter13 CHOREOGRAPHY (The Zen of of building a store)
As with any project that requires a serious investment of time and energy, care should be taken to cover all the bases in planning your store. Just as you must give your product vendors sufficient time to manufacture and ship the merchandise you plan to sell, offer the same courtesy to your store designer, contractor and fixture supplier.
Plan ahead. Don’t try to jump into a new store or a remodel overnight. Take the time to figure out what you want to do, when you want to do it and how much money you have to do it with.
How do you come up with a rational approach to coordinating all the details involved? I tend to think of a store’s creation as a series of interdependent steps that must be taken in the proper sequence or the whole effort can turn to chaos. Those steps go something like this:
The idea is formed to create a new store or to remodel your existing space.
2) Store location and size:
Are you remodeling your existing space or planning a new one. In either event you will need to determine the size,shape and rental cost of your new store.
Once the space has been ascertained, establish the people and merchandise costs. It will then be possible for you to set a reasonable budget for building the store. In most cases that budget will need to be adequate to provide for design, flooring, equipment, lighting, signage and construction.
Armed with a location and a budget, the retailer can approach the designer with the tools necessary to plan a store, and preliminary discussions can begin regarding design and merchandising concepts.If you don’t plan to use a designer, meet with a store equipment salesperson as soon as possible and try to develop a workable store plan.
If you work with a store fixture company and unless you or the salesperson has a good eye for color, get some design help on the finish specifications.This type of consulting should not take more than a few hours and will be well worth the investment.
5) Meet with the store builders:
Soon after the preliminary meeting with the designer, the retailer and designer should meet with the fixture suppliers and the general contractor to coordinate the projects rough costs. Establish a relationship with a fixture supplier early in the game simply because many designers are not conversant with retail operations and even those who are may not be familiar with current display and merchandising systems available, “off -the-shelf”, to the retail industry.
A general contractor and fixture dealer can provide input into construction and fixture costs that will impact eventual design considerations. An early meeting may save the tenant considerable design time and money. I often consult with a design or architectural firms that are out of touch with retail construction and equipment costs.They may be working with a retailer’s $50,000 budget on a store that based on the plans being drawn will cost $100,000.
6) Have the job bid:
Just because you conferred with a contractor or equipment house does not lock you into using them. When the plans are done, have them bid. If you are comfortable with the firms you have worked with in the preliminary stages and their bids are higher than others, share the other bids with them and see if they can sharpen their pencils. Further, remember that price is not everything and in the long run you may pay a little more, but get more for your money.
7) Order the equipment:
As soon as the plans are bid and permits procured, order your equipment and floor coverings. Delays in these products are not infrequent and the dealers usually cannot guarantee delivery because they have no control over the factory producing the goods.
8) Follow up: Check on the progress of the construction and the availability of the equipment and flooring regularly. Don’t assume that the contractor has all facets of the choreography under control. He may be so occupied with the construction that he has not adequately coordinated with the floor covering dealer or the equipment supplier. Better that you do a little extra follow-up and avoid problems that may crop up later. Create a checklist, review it with all the parties involved in the process and then follow up daily.
9) Don’t plan to open on time:
Do not plan a grand opening any sooner than 30 days from the projected opening date. Stores are rarely fully ready when they are supposed to be.
10) Merchandise properly:
Give yourself time to set up the store. Nothing is worse then opening a store that looks empty or disorganized.
11) Finally, prepare for the ordeal:
These projects are rarely fun no matter how experienced your help is. Things go wrong. Get ready.