7 Top Tips for Renovating Your Business On a Budget
Should you pull up that worn old faux-parquet flooring and replace with stunningly sleek travertine tiles…or should you give your best manager a well-deserved raise? Should you remodel your reception area or invest in a company car? Decisions, decisions.
We get that these are the types of decisions you are faced with all the time and knowing the best place to invest your hard-earned business bucks can be a quagmire of complicated ROI calculations and nerve-fraying options.
Often times the better return on investment would seem to come from the hard cold cash injection into systems and software that offer more convenience or faster functionality, or the man-power to pull in more leads and customers. Whatever the decision, chances are the practical option probably wins out over the aesthetic options on a regular basis.
The practical decisons have their place, of course, but ask yourself this – What do my customers see when they walk into my business – Do they see the systems and manpower or do they see the visual environment? Do they notice my tills with better back office software or do they notice how shabby my interiors look and what impression does that leave them with?
Does Your Customer Notice The Worn Down Appearance Of Your Business?
Does your customer really notice that worn down parquet flooring with all of its scratches and scuffs? Do they see the wallpaper that has peeled away from the walls in your ‘retro’ bathrooms? Do they pass judgement on how worn and dirty your reception area seating looks?
They may not appear to and the client/customer themselves may not do so consciously, but trust me, they notice! If the aesthetics and quality of your business interiors have taken a backseat lately, then, even if your customers don’t consciously observe it, you are leaving them with the impression that:
- A) You don’t care about their comfort
- B) You don’t pay attention to detail in your business and
- C) You don’t have the money to put into repairs (which in itself leads them to the conclusion that you are not doing well in your business, which leads them to think that other customers are clearly not spending their money there, so perhaps they shouldn’t either because there must be something wrong…!!!!) Next thing you know – lost customers!
That may sound like I have over-simplified things, but I have seen this again and again. Business lets itself go – customers lose interest. Business gives itself a shiny new face lift and I have seen examples where they as much as double or triple their income!
How to Renovate Your Business On a Budget
Ok, so you get the picture about the importance of keeping your place of business looking fresh and well cared for. But what if you simply don’t have tens or even hundreds of thousands of Euro for a major face-lift?
Well, here are my top 7 tips for going through the renovation process on a budget:
- Make A Plan – Stick To The Plan
First, get clear about what you want to do. Identify the most important areas of your remodel and stick to those. Ask yourself questions about what you are trying to achieve with this remodel or facelift. Do you want this to project to bring about a major shift in your market position ie are you trying to shift from the local, family style business to a funky new, luxurious business for the ages? Or do you simply need a freshen up?
Whatever you are trying to achieve will dictate the plan you make. You will need to plan for budget, time constraints, theming, materials purchase, scheduling of contractors, closing down or scaling down your business operation, hidden repairs etc. There is a lot to consider, but this is where an experienced professional designer comes in very handy and can actually save you a lot of time and costly planning mistakes from beginning to end.
- Set Your Budget
At the very beginning of this process, you should sit down and work out exactly what your budget is. Always allow 10-15% for contingencies in your budget. There can be unforeseen or hidden costs and materials costs can fluctuate. Once you start construction, it is common to unearth some hidden problems that you may not even have been aware of, such as decay or deterioration of materials that need replacing.
Know from the beginning what the very top end of your budget is and keep this in mind right throughout the process. The aim is to bring your project in under that top-end figure.
- Plan Your Timing
Timing can be everything in a project like this. Give yourself plenty of time to decide on final designs and deadlines before taking major action. If you are well-prepared and know what you want in advance of the renovation process, you will allow yourself more wriggle room with suppliers. On the flip-side, if you leave yourself short on time or are unsure of what you want, you can get stuck negotiating on short lead times with suppliers.
Remember, the more lead time you have with suppliers, the more room there is for negotiation. Short lead times are more expensive.
- Choose A Theme/Style/Direction
Knowing your theme, style or direction is very important from the outset. What will determine this is what you want your customers to experience. Do you want a high-end, very polished luxurious experience for your customers or do you want a down-to earth, relaxed, homely experience?
Look to your brand to help you make these decisions. What does your brand represent? What is your company’s mission or values? Are you more about quality experiences, for example or are you more about great value and a convenient service? These types of values will often shape the way your business looks and ultimately save you time and costly mistakes in the design and fit-out of your place of business.
- Deal With The Hidden Issues
Always, always deal with the hidden issues as they crop up. What do I mean by hidden issues? Well, it can almost be guaranteed that you will unearth a few hidden problems when you start to renovate your premises – like decaying materials, dodgy wiring or plumbing, damp, mould etc. This is why it is so important to have a contingency in your budget.
If you deal with these issues (particularly the more serious ones) as you find them, you could save yourself a lot of money and heartache later on down the track. For example, there is no point in having a shiny new paint job or interior cladding, if you have to pull down and redo the whole lot in 6 months time because you didn’t deal with the damp issue. Get your damp-proofing etc done now and the problem goes away.
- Close Down? Stay Open?
Having a solid plan in place before you start is especially important when it comes to deciding whether you need to close your doors for a few weeks or whether you are going to try to tough it out and keep parts of your business open. Consult with your designer on this and factor your budget into the equation. Will the cost of 6 weeks of lost business be greater than the cost of 12 weeks of slowed down business? Will the inconvenience of a being on a ‘construction site’ scare away your customers ? Will your trades people charge extra if they have to work outside of business hours? And will you lose the impact and WOW factor that a big launch or reveal could offer you?
- Get Expert Advice
Finally, I cannot stress the importance of this recommendation highly enough, get expert advice. Find a commercial designer, like our team here at McCabe Design Group, who have significant experience and can guide you through the minefield of possible costly mistakes and trip-ups. It may seem like a cost saving to try to design yourself but a good designer will actually save you money. Not only will you avoid costly mistakes but you will likely benefit from trade prices, a team of trades that are well used to working with one another and economies of scale that a designer can offer you. Not to mention, you will get the very best bang for your buck, aesthetically!