A challenging environment is changing the way prototypes (from the architecture and engineering perspective) are developed and managed. With resources and staff stretched thin, retailers will likely need to manage several prototypes in the future, rather than simply one at a time. Many already are. And now, more than ever, retailers will be charged with saving money, improving quality and speeding development. One key component in meeting the challenge is increased expediency.
“Expediency really means increasing the predictability and accuracy of development schedules,” said John Miologos, senior VP, architectural services, WD Partners, Columbus, Ohio. “But expediency doesn’t revolve around brick and mortar only. It involves understanding and impacting the entire development process. The real opportunity here is to create systems around expediting the front end.”
According to Miologos, executives in charge of store development need to question all aspects of the deal.
“Don’t allow the front end of the development process to be exclusive of your questioning,” he added.
Having a highly refined set of construction documents is also key.
“Excellent construction documents require accuracy and planning,” Miologos explained. “If you neglect either, you will pay when you are in the building process—and that can be very expensive.”
Also, tightly managing the prototype documents will reduce errors and changes further into the building schedule. Such mistakes and changes can cost big money and time, Miologos said, at a point where retailers can least afford to lose it.
Miologos recommended that retailers design for the most restrictive sites they are likely to build on, building in maximum flexibility by designing a kit of parts.
“Designing a flexible prototype that will work in a wide variety of non-standard sites, both in terms of sizes, orientations and frontages, allows real estate to make property decisions much faster,” Miologos said. “We typically create a kit of parts for the prototype, which allows for the leveraging of predetermined pieces while assembling them to be more appropriate for an individual situation.
Here are some other tips from Miologos for opening stores more cost-effectively and, depending on the retailer’s goal, either more quickly or with more predictability:
- Develop long-term relationships with key partners and dedicated teams, and leverage their historical knowledge of your company across all phases of the development;
- Negotiate national purchasing contracts;
- Know that the cheapest isn’t usually the cheapest;
- Manage the handoffs. Integrated deployment of services means no lost time, more accountability and fewer communication orders; and
- Acknowledge the community in the development process. Being prepared and sensitive to standards will get you out ahead of others.