Remodeling or renovating your restaurant can be an exciting endeavor, especially once you’ve secured the necessary financing or saved the money needed to upgrade your business. Upgrades, of course, will hopefully bring in more sales and keep current customers coming back — a critical part of your restaurant’s marketing plan and strategy.
But how do you balance a renovation or remodel of your restaurant while staying open for business? In most cases, upgrades to a restaurant will typically cause something of a construction zone/area to sprout up around your restaurant. Unfortunately, your current guests are still expecting pleasant ambiance for their dining experience, a far cry from the feeling of needing a hard hat and safety goggles amidst construction materials, tools, paint, etc.
So, before you splash that new color on the wall or finally build the outside patio you’ve always wanted for your restaurant, here’s some tips to help you juggle ongoing business while polishing up your restaurant’s appearance or structure.
1. Manage expectations.
Sometimes it’s as simple as communicating what’s happening with your restaurant in order to better manage your customers’ expectations during your renovation or remodeling period. Placing a sign near a window in the storefront or lobby can immediately give guests a “heads up” to expect that a portion of the restaurant is in upgrade mode.
2. Adjust your table greeting.
You can also supply a script to your servers to use along with their usual table greeting, that can give a quick mention to the work being performed and to thank them for their patience and understanding. This is also a nice opportunity for quick explanations as to why upgrades are happening. If you’re building an outside patio, for example, this is a great way to get customers excited and encourage that repeat visit!
3. Contain the construction/upgrade scene.
Having work performed cosmetically (paint or soundproofing) or structurally (new construction of an addition) to your restaurant can cause particulates to spread and possibly cause health and safety issues for your guests and employees. Make sure to have the proper barriers (barrier/containment walls, signs, tape, etc.) to block and secure those hazards from entering your restaurant, and vice versa, to keep your guests from entering the areas under construction or renovation.
4. Maintain air quality.
In addition to implementing proper containment measures (such as drywall dust barriers), it’s also important to consider your HVAC system and adjust it accordingly during this time. A strong airflow can transfer particulates and additional matter from the construction area to other areas of the restaurant such as the kitchen and dining floor, contaminating your food and beverage. Your contractor or HVAC service provider can consult you on how to properly pressurize and/or adjust your system to prevent this from happening.
5. Remodel after hours.
Although you may have to pay extra for an unconventional work schedule from your general contractor, the ability to minimize disruption and maintain optimal dining ambiance during normal business hours can keep your guests happier and complaints about noise, smells, materials, etc. to a minimum. It can also allow your contractor and workers to move in and out of the restaurant more efficiently, which could aid in getting your remodel or renovation done more quickly. It either saves you money in the long run or balances out the additional costs spent on paying for after hours labor.
6. Offer a small “courtesy” discount.
Depending on the noise and overall environment affected, consider offering a small “courtesy renovation” discount or other freebie (a free dessert that’s cost effective for you). This small gesture could help appease diners that are used to quieter ambience, less filled with the nuances of a restaurant’s remodel or renovation.
7. Manage the acquisition of proper permits.
In many instances, renovations can require specific permits, which can take time to acquire. To decrease the overall time period of your particular remodel, be sure to understand each permit required, the process to obtain it, and the length of time it will take you obtain it. This will help you to minimize as much down time in your restaurant being closed for renovations or juggling your restaurant being open for business, but also under remodeling or renovation upgrades.
8. Stay organized.
Designate areas where construction items can be delivered, picked up, or stored — not in a main or common area where business is still running. This will help you maintain normal traffic flow and business for your guests and staff in your restaurant, while maintaining efficiency and safety.
9. Keep your records safe.
During your restaurant’s upgrade, make sure to keep all of your business records and other important documents safely stored and located away from the work area. Keeping operations running normally means having quick and safe access to your files, while also protecting them from hazards that can occur from the work area. For instance, if you have a file cabinet near or in the work area, make sure to move that before any construction or renovation begins.
10. Be a good neighbor.
If you are within a multi-unit building, strip mall, or your establishment is relatively close to other properties, be a good neighbor and let them know about the upgrades happening. Tell them what to expect in terms of workers, vehicles, and increased deliveries, as this can affect their daily business operations or lives in general. Let them know they can contact you at any time if they’ve got questions or concerns.
Still considering what to renovate? We have some tips on choosing based on the return on investment: