To a retailer, customer experience is one of the most important elements that can influence success. A big part of your customer's experience is the physical building that contains your business. As your building ages or your business realizes increased success, it often becomes necessary to complete a remodel. It would be great to close the business, complete the remodel or expansion, and then reopen. Unfortunately, for many small businesses, having several weeks of downtime without any sales is not an option. This means the remodel must be done while the business is open to the public, which can be a challenge.
Listed below are a few tips on how to best navigate a remodel while your business remains open:
Be aware of safety concerns and address them immediately. Walk your business at least twice a day looking for any concerns that could cause a safety risk. If you find an issue, don’t leave it unattended, and work to resolve it as soon as possible. Pay specific attention to the ground area and the floor itself. Look for anything that could cause a trip hazard and remove it immediately. Extension cords are common with construction projects and can be a hazard if placed in a high-traffic area. If your remodel requires flooring work, make sure any uneven floor areas are well marked and have appropriate protection in place.
Have constant communication with the contractor during the project. It is a good idea to schedule meetings with the contractor at the beginning and end of each week. On Monday, you can discuss the schedule for the upcoming week and any potential concerns that may need to be addressed. You should also look to discuss any pending inspections. Although the inspector is coming to review something related to the construction project, you want to ensure the rest of your business is up to standard. On Friday, you can review what was completed and address any lingering concerns that could have a negative impact on your customers. This way, you are well prepared for the weekend and any increased foot traffic it brings.
Maintain proper building security during the remodel project. Securing your business nightly should remain a high priority during the remodel process. Work that interferes with any perimeter door’s ability to be locked or an alarm system’s ability to be set is a concern and needs to be resolved before leaving for the day. If any of these areas will be compromised, consider adding temporary door/wall supports and additional alarm elements like contact points or motion sensors. Keep in mind, these elements take time to install so advance planning is key. In some extreme cases, an overnight guard may be the best option. It is also important to set up a contractor entrance/exit. This allows you to be able to control who gains entrance to your business and what they are bringing in or taking out as they work throughout the day.
Over-communicate to your customers. Remodels are messy, and customers are going to notice something is happening. It is best to address this concern head-on and let them know what’s happening. Remodels normally require products to be temporarily relocated and this can cause great frustration to your regular customers. Do your best to keep them informed and let them know what to expect. As we just discussed, remodels can also cause safety issues. Use warning signage to make your customers aware of the environment and to keep them alert.
A remodel or expansion is an exciting time for your business, but it can also be a challenge. Your focus may be pulled from normal business priorities to oversee the project and keep things on schedule. Just remember, customers are the key to your business, and keeping them happy during this process should never be far from your thoughts.