Business and Operations
Pizza on Fire: July-August 2014
By Tom Stankiewicz
Managing a move
By Tom Stankiewicz
Relocating your pizzeria to a more desirable area requires a big
commitment and the decision should be made only after you’ve done
extensive research to determine if it would benefit your business.
Relocating your pizzeria to a more desirable area requires a big commitment and the decision should be made only after you’ve done extensive research to determine if it would benefit your business.
Having gone through the process twice, we have a few important lessons to share.
About 10 years ago we relocated our pizzeria to our existing location. At the time, our biggest concern was the design and construction of the inside space. Fast-forward a few years and we are at it again; however, when we recently decided to renovate again, we needed to renovate the new property inside and outside. I have learnt that anyone who is contemplating taking on such a construction project must have excellent communication and time management skills.
One of the most important steps at the beginning of the construction phase is to hire a general contractor whose job will be to oversee the project. It’s important to have a clear understanding about the general contractor’s responsibilities. If you are comfortable with taking the lead and successfully finishing the project, it might make sense to hire a general contractor only for the beginning of the process. We took that route, and it meant that significantly more time input was required from us. If you know that you don’t have the capacity to make that time commitment, then a general contractor should run the project from start to finish.
One of the more challenging stages was the actual construction of the building. It was helpful to have a plan in place; however, so many things were impossible to foresee. That is why you need to allow extra time for your finish date, even if you think you won’t need it. A simple delay in getting required construction material will put you behind schedule. With so many tradespeople involved in this process, you have to plan ahead that at least one of them will be late. Phases of construction are usually connected and need to be completed in sequential order. In many cases, new restaurants don’t open on the initial start date. As well, the cost of the construction will almost always be higher than what was initially proposed. My own estimate is that you should be prepared to have access to at least 30 per cent more money than was indicated in your original budget.
Excellent time management is essential to ensure the construction project and the move to the new location are successful. This is especially important when the pizzeria at the existing location needs to operate as usual without any negative impact to customer experience and quality of service. Without a doubt, you will need to divide your time between the two locations, and from my personal experience I can tell you, the pizzeria location under construction will require more of your attention to ensure everything is happening as close to schedule as possible.
During this time, your current employees will become one of your most valued resources and will indirectly contribute to the successful relocation of the business. Many owners who have gone through this experience would likely agree that a number of tasks they normally complete themselves need to be delegated to store managers. Because this transition period will affect everyone who works for you, the employees should be given enough information to feel comfortable during it. Any uncertainty about what will happen once the business is relocated should be clarified to eliminate negativity and misinformation. It’s best to have an open discussion to ensure a good working environment throughout this process. I have found that once the employees understand the big picture and what their specific involvement will be, they are motivated to do their best.
Customers need to be properly informed as well. We have used many different forms of communication to let them know about our move. By far the easiest and quickest way to make this announcement was to use the Internet. In our case, the message was easy to deliver as we are keeping the same customer base and simply adding new delivery areas. If your scenario is the opposite, then it would make sense to discuss with your employees how to properly address customers’ concerns.
Every business owner has a unique story to tell about their business relocation. In the end, it doesn’t matter how each of us gets there, as long as we do.
Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza business for more than 15 years. He has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., since 2000, and is president of the Canadian Pizza Team.