Advanced Planning For Commerce

Opportunities for Building Designers Part 4 of 20

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Last week we discussed offering site selection consultation, now we move on to advanced planning for commerce.

Every time you spend money in an independent retail store, whether it’s a bar, a hot dog stand, or the corner grocery store, you are dealing with a potential client for “advanced planning” services.

The smaller the operation, the less competition from larger building design firms. Never underestimate the potential business in this field.

All successful retail enterprises suffer from too little space or misuse of the area they have.

Besides, when a company becomes successful in one location, generally an enlargement or branch stores are considered.

At this point, professional help is needed to get expansion plans onto a solid basis and an opportunity for you to get in on the ground floor.

How do you get the work?

As always, contacts are essential here. If your transaction is with the company’s owner, don’t be afraid to start a conversation.

You might say, “You’re getting so busy you’ll have to expand one of these days.” Good public relations is about identifying yourself as a building designer to those people who may someday have buildings to design.

How to prepare:

If you know that a particular operation is going to expand, secure as much information of their work as possible before your call.

Difficult? Yes.

Impossible? No.

  • They have competitors somewhere; how do the competitors work?
  • Find trade magazines published in their field?
  • What can the internet tell you about the problems of that business?

The knowledge you gain before this first call helps you to speak the client’s language and gives you a head start on the job if you get it.

Expansion word in a workflow diagram written on a dry erase board to illustrate a plan or strategy for growth and success.

How to handle the job:

Most often, the information your client wants at this point is nominal and straightforward:

  • What are the possibilities?
  • How much will it cost?

There is generally no need for a formal report, but there is a need for useful technical information on what size the expansion should be (maybe the vacant store next door isn’t large enough).

What do with the existing store and fixtures (does it need replacement or just rearranging).

What to do with the front and the parking space and color treatment and what, if any, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) problems there could be.

Generally, you solve these matters through rough sketches and consultation with experienced builders familiar with the particular type of work. In many cases, excellent data can be obtained free by visiting store fixture manufacturers.

By keeping the entire program in a rough draft format, you can furnish your client with the cost data needed and keep your expenses down.

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