Even with regular maintenance and exceptional care, one of the most common growing pains in running a small business is finding that your premises are in need of makeover - or that you’ve simply outgrown them. You’d be surprised at just how important that fresh coat of paint or a redesign of the available space can be to the long-term future of your business. But it can be daunting taking that first step into refurbishment, so we’ve put together five key areas to make it that little bit simpler.
Step 1: Scoping
Good planning is the essential foundation of a successful business refurbishment project. So much of the process is dependent on other factors: do you work out your designs before you have your budget in place? Can you successfully budget before you know what permissions you’re likely to obtain? And is there any point applying for permissions before you know the actual design of your refurbishment?
This can often seem like a daunting and impossible task, but the key thing to remember is that your plans don’t need to be especially fleshed out or perfect at the start. They’ll be plenty of time to pick out the exact shade or paint and break down the budget later. For now, you just need a rough idea on the key aspects. Structural changes to the building, the overall funds you have available for the project and basic information about your area’s permissions are all key points to investigate.
Step 2: Design and Budget
With an overview in place, it’s time to start filling in the details. First and foremost for your budget: assign contingency funds. The nature of refurbishment is unpredictable, and you can easily end up running into a cost that you haven’t expected. If you’re working with tradesmen, ensure that they’re regularly providing you with updates on costs and materials: keeping track of expenses as they occur is much better than being hit with a hefty invoice at the end of a project. If you need extra financial support, you’ll find many banks offer small business loans specifically to cover renovations and refurbishments.
For design, always keep in mind the end goal that you’re hoping to achieve. It’s no use having lots of beautifully designed elements if they don’t have any synergy. Choose colours, furniture and features that project the atmosphere that you want customers to experience as they come in. Glass, steel and bright colours can create a sense of modernity for example, whilst darker shades and wood often add a touch of authority and class. It’s amazing how much design can influence your customers’ perception of you as a business: 95% of shoppers say that exterior appearance influence their decision of where to shop!
Step 3: Permissions
The extent of permissions that you’ll need to acquire depend largely on the type of work you’re looking to have done. If it’s just a fresh coat of paint and new furniture, then you’re good to go, but for more extensive changes you’ll need to seek permission from your local council. This includes work that will “materially change the exterior of your business”, such as new shopfronts or entrance doors.
For your planning application to be considered, you must submit the following:
The necessary plans of the site
The required supporting documentation
The completed form
The correct application fee
We cannot stress enough how important it is to acquire permission before you actually begin work. Having your plans rejected can be extremely costly if you’ve already started making changes, purchased materials or hired labour. A little patience can potentially save you a lot of hassle and money.
Step 4: The Refurbishment
Much of the stress and work of the actual business refurbishment can be avoided if you follow the steps above and think ahead as thoroughly as you can. But still, unexpected costs and complications can happen to even the most diligent of planners. The key is to keep calm and keep informed. Have a good idea of the day-to-day running of your renovation and ensure that you nip any potential issues in the bud. Assuming you’ve done your homework and allocated a decent contingency, things are likely to work out in the end: a fact that can easily slip your mind when a slew of wiring suddenly needs to be replaced, or a pipe bursts!
Step 5: Promotion
Arguably the most important step in the entire process, yet one of the most underappreciated, is making the most out of your refurbishment. Once work is complete, it’s time to shout about it. A visual makeover is a great selling point to push out across your social media channels and will often entice existing customers into revisiting soon. You can pair it with events to act as a catalyst to drive in new business as well. Giveaway free products like Ellen Borough Park did with their restaurant refurb, or run a sale specifically to mark the event. The result is often an increased level of exposure for both the event and the refurbishment, ultimately improving awareness and perception of your business.