Changing Spaces

Advice on expanding or relocating one's business, from a design perspective

Our economy has led to a new beginning for many businesses. If yours is a retail, restaurant or office-based enterprise – or if you are starting up a new business – there is much to consider in regards to a possible relocation or remodel.

Change for your business may involve one or more of the following: creating a new space, remodeling an existing space or switching to an entirely new location.

Regardless of the nature of the change in one's business location, as an integral part of your business and marketing plan you'll likely consider inventory, equipment for storage, display and point of sale.

It's also important to thoroughly consider the design of the space for your new business location. In order to get it right the first time, plan to include help from design professionals.

Your retail business will benefit from a merchandising designer to maximize impact of entry, point of sale and product layout. Interior designers can help a business owner guide their space planning and optimize furnishings and color.

An architect will provide space planning, coordinate design and building code compliance needs, as well as assemble and coordinate your consultant group.

Restaurants should consider restaurant design consultants to assist in finalizing menu design, establishing kitchen/work center layout, equipment selection and procurement, as well as staffing and training. Restaurateurs should also look to their architect to squeeze the most from limited planning time.

In order to ensure a successful remodel, be sure to budget adequately for upgrades to your new or remodeled location. Even the simplest improvements must include often overlooked expenses for paint, floor and ceiling finishes, minor carpentry and lighting fixtures. Budgets for more complex upgrades should include design and permitting fees and costs for interiors or construction upgrade work.

Also don't forget to schedule adequate time for design, construction and set-up/installation. Your opening date will come at you fast, so anticipate schedule slip and build extra time into your schedule. Maximize marketing impact by advertising your grand opening. The luster is lost when you're forced to postpone.

If you're contemplating a new or first location lease or purchase, consider a due-diligence study of the building or lease space. Whether you're buying or leasing a space, it's wise to know precisely what you're getting and how you might use the space prior to signing an agreement.

An architect can help by reviewing your prospective space and evaluating existing systems, as well as confirm that your business is compatible with the occupancy permit granted to the space you are considering.

Also make sure your new space is sized to accommodate your business. Resources are available through trade associations and merchandising indices to help establish a base floor area. In addition, concept sketches by an architect can help you determine if the new space is a good fit.

Wisdom dictates making prudent changes to adapt to the current business climate. Smart and judicious planning for one's new or expanded location will go a long way to help ensure business success.

Manley is president and founder of Vancouver-based Manley Architects. He can be reached at 360.718.2260.

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