As mentioned in the last installment of Building Blocks, I recently opened two new locations in four months. But the time spent between getting the keys and opening the doors was far shorter — 15 days for the first and 30 days for the second. Thirty days, in fact, is the longest we’ve taken to open a store — and that was only because the building itself had been unoccupied for three years and needed several repairs.
Someone asked why we decided to open our stores so quickly, and I answered honestly: I didn’t know there was another option. I always thought it was normal to open a store in a week or two. So, I have a system to make that happen. This month, we’ll talk about what do before you have the keys.
As soon as you reach an agreement on a new restaurant, it’s time to plan. Make sure to:
- Make lists of everything needed to open a new store, from infrastructure to personnel.
- Identify who will be working on the new store, such as familiar contractors, electricians and plumbers. Alert them of the project with a loose start date, impressing on them how important speed will be in the job.
- Locate all the required equipment, either purchasing or putting deposits on the gear.
- Connect with the local health department and municipality to discuss what permits are required and order them right away. These will always take time, so to make things easier, find a city council member or municipal board member who is supportive of new businesses. Meet or contact them early on so you’ll have someone in your corner in case of any permit issues.
Make some room
Once you’re confident that the deal will go through, it’s time to order your equipment and materials so it’s ready to move into the store once you have the keys. If you don’t have adequate storage space, you might get a little crowded. Recently, my living room and garage was filled with so many boxes a delivery person asked if I was moving. As always in our business, though, you adapt.
Sort your equipment list by priority, ordering the most important items first and so on. Your list will always grow — and it’s easy to forget something — so it’s worth taking a walk through the new space to spark ideas.
Get on the phone
Once you have an idea of when the keys will be in your pocket, reach out again to those who will be working on the project. A quick opening depends on the speed of others, so communication is vital to keep everyone on the same page. I always give contractors a solid date to begin work, but never a real finish date; I’ll estimate a week sooner to account for any delays.
If you finish these steps, then once everything is finally signed, you’re in a great position to open fast. In the next installment, we’ll get you from the moment you open the doors for yourself to when you’re opening them for customers.
NICK BOGACZ is the founder and president of Caliente Pizza & Draft House in Pittsburgh. Instagram: @caliente_pizza