Last month, our guide to opening a new store in a hurry was all about what to do before you had the keys to the front door (quick reminder: plan, plan, plan). This month, the deal is finalized, the keys are in your hands — and the fun begins.
Hopefully, you have yet to set a date for when you want to open. Maybe it’s being a little too cunning, but I always keep the real date hidden so everyone moves at a much faster pace. I might offer a date that is one to two weeks earlier than the one I have lined up in my head.
But when it comes to picking that “true” opening day, keep these points in mind:
- What permits will you need, and how soon will they be approved?
- What are your contractors’ schedules like? Be sure they know your expectations.
- Factor in your personal life — is there anything that changes the schedule?
- Remember: Time is money.
Construction & Contractors
Once work starts, make a daily appearance on site. Not only do contractors seem to get more accomplished when their client is around, regular communication keeps you updated on progress and helps you address any potential issues (“potential” is probably being generous).
Most importantly, stick to the payment schedule. When contractors are paid on time, they work a lot faster.
You should have already ordered your equipment and supplies. Testing it to be sure it works as advertised is important, but there’s a catch — test it all at once. I’ve made the regrettable mistake of testing equipment separately, only to find out that when it was all on at the same time, I didn’t have enough electricity or gas to operate everything together. Don’t leave out existing equipment, either, including furnaces, air conditioning units and refrigerators.
With the contractors moving on pace and the equipment working, now you can focus on the smaller things — ordering menus, décor, glassware, etc. — plus one big thing: bringing in the new staff.
Having the staff come together for the initial clean-up and final stages of prep work helps with their buy-in, making them feel like a real team. I have at least two pre-opening meetings — once for a big cleaning event, and then a more general staff meeting. Host individual meetings, too, if certain staffers require more specific training.
As the opening draws closer, or you’re at least ready to announce the date, reach out to public officials to inform them of your new business and a grand opening event (we love ribbon-cuttings).
Get on social media, too. Post photos and status updates of the in-progress store, as people love to see the ins and outs of a restaurant being constructed. Maybe the night before the opening host a walkthrough on Facebook Live to build hype in the community.
Soon enough, you’ll cut the ribbon and be the new hot spot in town, but how do you handle the pressure? That’s what’s next in Building Blocks.
NICK BOGACZ is the founder and president of Caliente Pizza & Draft House in Pittsburgh. Instagram: @caliente_pizza