How To Make a Store or Restaurant Design Process Flow Smoothly? When working your way through all the stages of opening a store or restaurant, pay close attention to the design stage. The restaurant design process is an involved one that can easily stall or deviate unpredictably if your choice of a design company is not right, if deadlines are not met or if communication is less than perfect.  

Here is what you should do during this stage to avoid such a scenario and to end instead with your dream store or restaurant interior.

1. Pick a design company that will do what you need 

Design projects are different, and so are design companies. It is essential that you hire the right one for the right project so that you get exactly what you need.

When you start looking for a company and are in the stage of reviewing different proposals, make sure you compare apples to apples. Some companies offer a few design packages such as Branding, Graphics, Interior Design and Permit Drawings, while others only provide one or two of these. Hiring one company to do all your design work will typically save you time and money. It will also ensure the continuity of your brand, since your brand should be the underlining theme in all your efforts to bring your business forward.

2. Discuss designs ideas and preferences with your designer 

Even when you do not know exactly what you want, most design companies have special design questionnaires that help you figure out your preferences. Others set up in-person interviews to talk about your specific business and branding ideas, operations and style. To make yourself perfectly understood, try to find examples of what you like. If you cannot, just trust your design professional. Good designers are excellent in picking clients’ brains, suggesting ways to achieve what their customers want and coming up with amazing brand identities and floor plan layouts for store or restaurant interiors.

3. Reveal your construction budget from the start

Your designer needs to have a very clear idea on your design and remodeling budget, since this will dictate the selection of materials, lighting and furniture. Knowing exactly how far your financial resources can stretch helps avoid unexpected costs. With all the available choices and possible designing alternatives, your designer needs to have this information in order to make the right decision.

For example, one finish can take your spending up or down by thousands of dollars. Depending on your budget, the designer can find a special handmade tile for $100/sf or something different and more affordable for $10/sf. You can use expensive granite or marble for your countertops or another material that looks good at half the price, like concrete terrazzo. 

4. Ask your designer for a solid schedule

Delivery dates are very important in the restaurant design process, since they keep you on track to completing the design phase of your project. They also allow you to pre-plan the purchase of items that take a long time to deliver such as furniture, lighting or any special finishes and custom-made fixtures. Help your designer keep the schedule on track by reviewing his or her design proposals in a timely manner.

5. Review all the design deliverables promptly 

One of the biggest slowdowns in the restaurant design process is the extra time clients take to review the design. By contrast, completing your review within the allotted time helps you get your permits faster, start construction on time and finish the project on schedule. Therefore, ask your designer how much time you have to review what he or she sends, and, in case you do not understand the design drawings, ask for a meeting in person or on the phone.

6. Hire someone to submit your permit drawings to the City

Once the Construction Documents are finished, try to avoid handling the permitting process yourself. There are experienced people, like permit runners and expediters, who can help you speed up the process. The reason you need them is that it sometimes takes hours to wait in line at the local Building Department. Because you may be unaware of certain aspects of the permitting process, you may also involuntarily slow it down. 

Concentrate instead on building a team and overseeing its work instead of doing it yourself. This will free up your time for more important decision-making tasks and will allow professionals to do what they do best without having to teach you how to deal with these responsibilities.

7. Keep your designer close during the construction phase

After you get your permits, the Design and Permitting phases of the restaurant design process are done, and you will transition into the construction stage. It is always wise to keep your designer during this time to make sure you receive fair proposals from contractors and that the design is implemented correctly. Always ask your designer or design team to price these Construction Administration services, and remember that it is typically cheaper to pay for it upfront than to do it on an hourly basis.

The Construction Administration phase should include at least the following:

  • Value engineering. If your contractors’ pricing is beyond your budget, something will have to change in order to accommodate your funds. This process of balancing function and cost to obtain optimal value is called value engineering. Your designer can guide you through it so that the final result will get you the most bang for your buck. Sometimes, replacing materials with a cheaper option or removing a few design elements is the way to go. Even when drawings need to be adjusted and contractors make changes to their proposals, the good news is that the design intent will stay the same during this whole process.
  • Details update. If during the demolition stage, your contractor uncovers unexpected conditions on site, some of the construction details may have to change. We do not recommend relying on the contractor’s expertise and aesthetics to proceed with such design changes. Instead, work with your designer, who can always incorporate the proposed modifications into the design intent while keeping it intact.
  • Shop Drawings review. During the construction stage, your contractor will ask his multiple subcontractors to provide the so-called Shop Drawings. Shop Drawings show details of cabinetry and custom fixtures. Sometimes, they may deviate from the fundamental design intent and change the look of some items. We recommend asking your designer to review all the Shop Drawings and to address any missing information as needed.
  • Materials update. It may turn out that products that have a great price and passed your approval come with a long and inconvenient manufacturing lead time. Your designer can help you find another product that gives you the same aesthetics and functionality.
  • Answering contractors RFIs. We sometimes get phone calls during the construction stage, asking us for some simple piece of information that, however, cannot be easily found on plans. We welcome these calls because it is better to communicate than to build incorrectly. Having your designer on your team during the construction process, ready to answer such calls and make such corrections, will save you time, money and headaches.
  • Any other unexpected construction problems with design. Designing a store or restaurant and bringing it all to life is a major project that will most likely go through minor or major hiccups. Your best bet in keeping problems under control is making the designer part of your team, relying on his expertise and being open to ongoing communication.

Please take a look at our Before and After images of selected projects from 2018 HERE.

If you are thinking to open up a new business or in a process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.

Also, take a look at “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight on how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.

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