Someone who wants to reinvent their restaurant might first think of the words, “restaurant renovation”. Compared to a simple logo change, this is a more noticeable form of rebranding. The question is, how do you navigate the waters of renovation safely in this market scenario?
Renovation is a huge commitment for business owners, like you. You need to have an adequate amount of monetary, labor, and other resources involved in the project. And if you’re thinking if it’s wise to do a renovation today, the answer is yes!
Being in the Food Service Industry, you should know that remodeling is also a way of communicating with your customers. With the proper incorporation of elements, you’ll be able to convey the message of your brand.
This project for your restaurant is a ton of work. But every planning, budgeting, meeting, and execution will be worth it once you have achieved the new look for your business.
If you’re thinking of a new way to attract customers, and you have enough resources to burn, then consider renovating. Today’s economic situation provided you the freedom to redesign your establishment.
You can utilize this article as a jumping-off point since it will explain what you need to consider before starting up your remodeling project. Learn more as you read on.
Restaurant Renovations 101
If customer’s loyalty to your brand is what’s holding you back for this project, then you have to let go of that mindset. Modern diners are smarter in terms of the brand they support. As long as you protect your core values and philosophies, this project can help benefit your business greatly.
In this daunting project, you need to ask the right questions to arrive at proper answers. These answers shall serve as your guide throughout the process of this project.
What is the average cost of a renovation project in restaurants?
As a restaurant owner, you’re already aware that there’s no business that is the same. Even if you have the same concept or even the same brand, at some point you’ll have differences that affect the entire being of the business.
The same concept applies to costs as well. If you’re consulting a fellow restaurateur on how much you should prepare for reconstruction, then you might get the wrong average cost. Keep in mind that your business demands are different from others, thus you should consider conducting your canvas.
Your true cost will be based on how much of a remodeling you’re planning to do. If you’re considering overhauling your entire establishment, the location and size of your business are important factors that have an impact on your cost.
On building the budget for your plans, make sure you consider the following factors such as:
● Present restaurant sales
● Present restaurant expenses
● Financing options
● Loan eligibility
● Personal resources
● Possible effects with the business’ cash flow
Remember to strictly align your budget plans with your restaurant’s concept and price point. If you adopt a fast-casual service, it is best to focus on how your staff can move around better instead of focusing on the aesthetic part of your establishment.
What is the best way to announce the renovation?
To avoid internal and external confusion, make sure that you’ll approach this properly. You have to make two sets of announcements; for your team and your customers.
Planning a renovation of a restaurant must be relayed properly to these two sets of people to ensure that you won’t lose them both in the process.
For your staff, you should clarify to them your plans and the entire timeline of your project. Highlight the start of the remodeling, especially if the operations will be put on hold. You also have to let them know when should they expect the operations to resume.
If you’re worried that announcing too soon may encourage your staff to leave you, we assure you that that’s not the case. Just make sure that you will relay your message properly and you can expect them to come back for your opening day.
But should you continue to pay them, if the renovation requires you to close your business for a while? The answer depends on the category of their employment. It will also differ depending on the local and national labor laws and regulations.
Casual staff doesn’t usually get paid for the times that the business is out. This goes for those who get paid by the hour. Only the permanent employees are the ones subject to pay during the remodeling project.
But it is advisable for you if you have extra money to burn, to continue paying everyone. In this way, you’re protecting the morale of your staff, and the working culture of your restaurant.
You also have to stay updated regarding employment and labor regulations to avoid future conflict. Some local regions and states will require you to pay every registered staff that you employ, while others won’t.
Of course, you have to update your customers about your redesigning project. It is best to let them know a week before to maximize the profit and engagement you possibly can get. Stimulate their fear of missing out on something through a creative and timely announcement.
You must keep your customers updated throughout the project. Generate brand retention by posting updates such as photos and short videos of the transformations that are happening. Utilize your website and social media profiles to stay relevant to avoid lesser brand engagement in the future.
For the reopening announcement, you should announce it beforehand to keep the thrill and excitement. If you have something new to offer, or to show, market it at the same time.
Are you going to stay open during construction?
Now, the answer to this question will depend on the scope of your renovation. If it’s just a minor repair or redesign, there might be no need for you to stop your operations. Minor remodeling can be carried out during the non-operating hours of your business.
But if you’re planning to do major remodeling, then you must expect to be out of the business for weeks to months – again depending on the scope that you want. It is best to consult your contractor and other people involved with the project with this decision.
And if you’re just afraid that closing for some time, during the renovation, can negatively impact your sales and revenue, then fret not. According to a study, restaurants that have closed due to renovation see a higher impact in sales than restaurants that have stayed open.
Also, as a food service business, your main priority is safe and the best food and customer service. How will your guests enjoy their meal if they see a worn-down interior, or if they are hearing various construction noises in the background?
You need to consider the safety of your meal preparation process if you’re opting to stay open during the remodeling process. The dust will be all over the place, no matter how hard you try to contain it.
Your staff will also have limited access to tools and equipment, thus resulting in poor customer service. This could appear alarming from the perspective of your customers, thus leading them to question the quality of your brand.
Make sure that you finalize all aspects of your plan if you aim to minimize downtime. Set a timetable, and adhere to it to the best of your ability. Even if adjustments are needed in certain cases, every detail should be finalized to minimize delays as much as possible.
Restaurant Renovation Strategy and Process
Up to this point, you must already know how the process of remodeling can impact your business entirely. It is a serious matter that needs to be discussed delicately. Why? Because it is responsible for how you will portray your brand to consumers.
Your interior and exterior elements will be the basis of the guests in developing their perspectives about your brand. And it is also a great investment on your end. So make sure that you will use the proper strategy and process to make the most out of it.
Although everything may not go accordingly as planned, it is a must that you have a solid plan for renovation. Make a balanced mix of your creativity and management skills while creating this plan.
But, you have to ensure that your plan will protect and evolve around the core values of your brand and the functionality of your business. Except if you’re going for a complete brand overhaul, then your renovation plans should still provide your customers the same brand image as before.
Your plan should be created according to what you want to have after the entire process. If you’re also unsure about that, check out the competitive market and see how renovations impacted their operations.
Establish a budget.
As early as planning, you should have an estimated budget on hand already. Planning around your budget helps you to protect your finances and cash flow. We understand that the budget will not always be met, but straying away too far from it can cause serious damage to you and your business.
It is best to hire a professional that can help you with your budgeting. Remodeling is a costly and demanding project. Be honest to yourself if you can’t handle everything on your own. As a restaurant owner, your priority should be taking care of the entire business and see what’s good for it.
Choose the right partners.
Just like every other field, there are specializations that you need to look out for. In search of the best architect, designer, and contractor, you don’t necessarily need the best and top-notch on the field. You just have to select the best for your concept and business.
Do you think that the best architect for residential areas can contribute helpful ideas to your establishment? While they may produce a good blueprint for you, you should work with the industry experts where you can expect quality results.
Give priority to critical concerns.
Redesigning is not just about the aesthetic part of your restaurant. Before you start your planning, make a full inspection of your premises. Check out if there are concerns that affect the functionality of your business.
Leaks and poor use of space are the common issues that warrant improvement. And you can’t simply put a patch or re-arrange your furniture to solve these problems. Make sure that before you do aesthetics, you have addressed every important concern first.
Announce your plans.
As mentioned earlier, you should time your renovation plans properly. Utilize every platform you have such as your website, social media channels, SMS, email, and even on print media that you’ll be closed for some time for remodeling purposes.
Restaurant Renovation Tips
Now that you know the fundamentals of renovation, here are some tips to help you carry out the remodeling plan of your dreams.
Keep an open mind.
During a remodeling process, you have the freedom to reinvent your brand. Check out the market trends that are here to stay. You have to look for ways on how to keep your core intact, and at the same time, you’re evolving to keep up with the market changes.
Stick to your goals.
Before starting a project, you must have your goals at hand already. You must stick to your goals during the entire process to keep everything in place. This is a crucial stage for your business, and you can’t just simply go into it blindly.
Your goals serve as the foundation of your entire plan. If your plan doesn’t answer your goals, then there’s a great chance that you won’t be satisfied with the outcome of the project. Concerns along the way may also increase since you went astray from your goals.
Provide allowance with your budget.
Sticking to your budget is the best way to financially protect you and your business. But you must not disregard the fact that there are uncontrollable changes that might happen.
Providing an allowance for your budget is necessary to be able to meet these changes without hurting the entire funding of the project.
Identify your major revenue sources.
Your dining area and your bar are the areas that generate your income. Enhance their potential by considering implementing remodeling. Providing better lighting for your bar makes it look more appealing to your customers.
You also have to keep in mind that these two areas play an important role in setting the entire mood of your premises. If you want to create a more intimate ambiance, then you should start with these areas.
Ask your customers.
If you think that it’s time for a remodeling project, you should consult with your customers first. Ask them relevant questions that can help you with setting your goals for this project, and the entire planning process.
Do they have concerns with the space? Are the lights helping to set the mood that you want? This is the best way to ask for your customers’ feedback regarding the physical aspect of your business. Make sure you’ll ask the right questions, to get the proper set of feedback.
Maintain a hands-on approach.
The investment you have put into this project is no joke. This is the main reason why you should monitor every step of it. Aside from protecting your resources, you also need to be hands-on to ensure that everything’s going according to your plan.
Being present during the construction gives you access to make comments and suggestions that can be made in real-time. And if there are steps that are way too contrasting to your goals, you can easily eliminate them.
Keep asking questions and clarifications from your contractor, architect, or interior designer. Establishing open communication allows your partners to see your vision towards this project, encouraging them to learn the project more according to your plans.
Keep your customers engaged.
There’s no sense in renovating an establishment if the customers won’t be going back into your doors. Aside from asking them about their feedback and ideas for renovation, you also have to keep updating them about the process.
Keep posting videos and photos about the construction. You may also want to invite your loyal regulars to have the first exclusive peek at your grand reopening. Learn to maximize every opportunity to engage your customer.
Involve your staff.
Your staff is the building block of your entire business, don’t let them feel otherwise by not involving them in this process. You must provide them with every updated timeline of your renovation for them to know when will they be resuming work.
You also have to provide job security, especially for your regular employees. Avoid raising legal disputes against your brand and make sure to properly compensate them during the times that you have to close the restaurant.
It is also important to provide them training refreshers before the grand reopening. Allow them to properly grasp the new concept and space after the renovation. Letting them familiarize themselves with the environment first helps their productivity and efficiency by the time you reopen.
Stay with the classics.
Your interior designer may have prepared modern designs for your establishment, but you should stick with classic designs. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to adopt the Baroque or Renaissance period style.
It is ideal to utilize timeless designs that can withstand the ever-changing trends and demands inside the market. Through this, you can maximize the investment you’ve made for your renovation.
The time where you have to close can affect your brand retention. Make sure that you will actively promote your reopening to ensure that your customers are properly informed.
You can also invite local influencers ahead of time. These influencers can help you gather enough audience about your newly-renovated restaurant.