What could go wrong with my shopfitting project?

Top tips for keeping your shopfit on track

Shop fit out

Bruce Gardner
General Manager Acopia Fitout Solutions

Bruce loves helping our customers plan their retail space, and getting involved with their vision. He likes to start the day early & is dedicated to providing a swift response to all customer requests.

As with any project, nobody really likes to think about (let alone talk about!) what might go wrong.

But we’ve all heard horror stories about contractors letting the client down, costs spiraling due to unforeseen challenges, late completion, and 101 other possibilities! However, the more aware you are of what might go wrong, the better prepared you will be to avoid such stressful and unwanted scenarios. This is particularly aimed at the smaller shopfitting project…for larger ones, you’ll need a dedicated Project Manager (either in-house or external).

Here are our tips which, if followed, will go a long way towards making a smooth and successful shopfit:

Do your groundwork prior to signing the lease

Commission a detailed survey, and ensure that you put back as much as possible on the Landlord’s responsibility. Make sure he can provide up to date asbestos reports, and electrical installation reports.

Take professional advice on your shopfit

Do you need planning permission for the proposed alterations? What about building regulations? All these are details which add time and expense

Choose your shopfitting partner carefully

If possible someone you have worked with before and trust. Or a company that has done other work in your sector and comes with personal recommendations. Make sure they are responsive and flexible right from the first contact, through to providing estimates, drawings, and advice. Do they inspire confidence when discussing your vision, and can you meet the person who will actually run the project? Importantly, can you visit other projects they have recently completed, and speak to the person who engaged them for that project?

Communication is key

Especially if you are trying to bring together a range of different trades. These will all want to work to their own programme, and the potential for something critical to fall through the cracks is huge! Much better to choose a contractor who can supply all the skills needed, and take responsibility for the programming and detail of the whole project.

Take advantage of knowledge and experience

A contractor who is experienced in your sector will be invaluable in terms of input into store layout, space planning, and design. The resulting positive impact on ROI is not to be missed! He should also be able to advise on the suitability of materials specified, avoiding costly and inconvenient remedial works due to failure of components.

Check estimates in detail

Be sure there is enough detail. Use a contractor who can provide you with 3D visuals and detailed drawings, and samples of colours and finishes.

Watch out for conditional clauses

Things like ‘subject to the condition of the sub-floor when exposed’. If at all possible remove ‘unknowns’ by spending a little extra time on detailed investigation. The frustration of a day or two’s delay may uncover something that can be put back to the landlord to rectify, and save you from unexpected delays and expense later.

Have a programme of works for your shopfit

This will ensure that you have an easy tool for checking that the project is running on time – but don’t micromanage!

Have a detailed plan for your merchandising

This will avoid (to a large extent) last minute rushes to buy extra equipment on the day before opening.

Set realistic deadlines

Every shop fitter knows that time is money, and you need to get open and trading, but putting on unreasonable pressure means that no-one performs at their best, and causes you sleepless nights!

The above is a very brief outline of some of the steps you can take to avoid common pitfalls and headaches associated with your project. The bottom line is, any good shop fitter will want to work with you to get things right. Relationship is key so keep communicating, don’t micromanage, and be flexible. Here’s to making your next scheme the best yet!

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