Business and Operations
The pizza Chef: September-October 2014
Rockin’ renovations – When is it time for a re-brand?
If you’ve been in business for more than five years and you haven’t done
any improvements or renovations to your location, you probably already
know that your place could use an update.
If you’ve been in business for more than five years and you haven’t done any improvements or renovations to your location, you probably already know that your place could use an update. Whether that just means some fresh paint, a new sign and some new kitchen equipment, or a full-on, total re-design of an area that no longer serves its purpose, it’s something to consider carefully.
I’m a big believer that little hinges swing big doors and just fresh paint and new signage can breathe life into any tired, old place. But is it enough? Consider that all major chains update their look every five years. If you’re a franchisee, you know that sooner or later you’re going to need to comply with your corporate brand update. This often includes the store interior and exterior as well as the logo and a review of all menu items. For the independent pizzeria owner, you might want to consider hiring a consultant to help you with this process, but before hiring that consultant, do your homework and ask for and check references!
A menu overhaul is a great place to start. Keep the most popular items on your menu and ask yourself if your kitchen can gain efficiencies from adding equipment like another oven to increase capacity. Or maybe you want to put in a panini grill and create a signature line of grilled sandwiches to feature on your menu. Research the type of equipment you need and then make a list of other improvements you intend to make.
If you have restaurant seating space that you haven’t updated in a few years, consider new flooring, fresh paint and some wall art. Take a good look at your service areas, there may be great efficiencies to be gained by moving a server station, or reorganizing the bar layout.
One of the biggest expenses of renovations is down time. Some operators choose to shut down completely, while others are able to schedule the work to be completed in stages, over several nights. It really depends on the scope of the renovations and whether you can find tradespeople that will work overnight.
The other caveat is ensuring who you hire will complete the work on time. If one of them falls behind schedule, it’s highly likely that another contractor cannot begin or complete his or her jobs punctually as well. Consider electrical and plumbing upgrades and add extra time for the inspections before allowing a finisher to close up the walls. A job needing to be redone is certainly a costly pain in the neck. It never hurts to call your local health inspector ahead of time to make sure your kitchen improvements are on par with current codes of practice.
Diana Cline is a two-time Canadian Pizza Magazine chef of the year champion, internationally recognized gourmet pizzaiolo, was a co-owner of Diana’s Gourmet Pizzeria in Winnipeg, and served as a director for Restaurants Canada (formerly the CRFA) from 2009 to 2013. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is also a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating systems to run a pizzeria on autopilot, along with marketing and positioning to help operators grow their business effectively and strategically. She is available for consulting on a limited basis, for more information contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.