Opening A Retail Store? Timelines Are Everything.

Posted on March 13, 2019 by Michael Benarroch

Opening A Retail Store? Timelines Are Everything.

Posted on March 13, 2019 by Michael Benarroch

When you’re in charge of opening the first, fifth, or fifteenth store, making a plan (and sticking to it) is absolutely worth the investment — because once you get started, there’s no turning back without serious costs attached.

Operations people, this blog post is for you. (Owners, we have plenty of articles for you, like this one, for starters.) When you’re establishing and growing your retail presence, managing operations also means managing expectations.

Imagine a store owner who wants create a retail experience that looks like Victoria’s Secret, but with an espresso bar inside, that also has a cosmetics section to browse while you wait for your pumpkin spice latte, and have it ready next month, for $25k. Impossible, right?

While that example is on the extreme side of things, we know there are people with big dreams and small budgets. When your boss the store owner has massive industry-changing dreams, and you have 10% less budget than was allocated for the last store, your next three to six months are going to be dealing with every single change or part of the plan that does not go perfectly. It’s hard work, and difficult expectations to balance.

As the organizational force behind the project, it’s your job to balance vision with viability, which is where timelines come into play.The project manager’s deliverable is building a store from beginning to end. The end goal is to have a happy store owner – while the end result is always that a store gets built, how the project progresses from planned to built determines your overall experience (excellent or disastrous).

One size does not fit all

Depending on the scale of your rollout, the scope of your store launch will include space planning, integrating your POS systems, managing display and fixture design, merchandising, delivery and installation.

It’s crucial not to make assumptions and define upfront what your timeline, budget, and quality will be. Short timelines will lead to higher labour costs, fewer opportunities for creativity and lower quality; longer timelines lead to greater efficiency in spend, improved quality (since you have time for prototypes and get the details right), and more options for creativity in design. One size does not fit all.

The “triple constraints” of project management

The rule of triple constraints is the mantra of project managers all over the world — “good, fast, cheap — you can only have two.” Here’s how it works:

Your project can be:

FAST and CHEAP, but it won’t be GOOD quality

CHEAP and GOOD quality, but it won’t be FAST

FAST and GOOD quality, but it won’t be CHEAP

Speed, budget, and quality — these three factors are always at play. Also known as the project management triangle, these three goals determine the outcome of every timeline. Why? Because there’s always a series of trade-offs and compromises to be made in order to keep things moving towards completion.

Quality / Scope

You can establish standards for quality through the tasks you define as part of the project. Planning and assigning resources effectively also ensures no one will get overwhelmed (especially you). By defining which tasks are prerequisites to others, you’ll prevent bottlenecking issues on your timeline and ensure everything can progress smoothly.  

Naturally, new demands will pop up as projects unfold. When change requests are made that were not part of your original list suddenly appear, you’ll be able to point out exactly what effect the disruption will have (on schedule, budget, or quality). This way, you can decide what you can realistically accommodate with minimal upset.

Cost / Budget

Planning out your financial commitment will include your fixed costs along with a number of variables. Resources can have varying levels of quality in both materials and labour (skills and productivity) which must be accounted for in your estimate. Your budget creates a baseline for spending, and cost control will help you manage fluctuations throughout the project.

Time / Schedule

Once you’ve defined all the necessary tasks from start to finish, you can establish the timeline that will ensure they’re accomplished in the right order, for the right duration, in order to meet your deadlines.

Retail timelines are a balancing act

Lacking resources? Running behind schedule? Some variables can change, and others can’t. If trouble appears on the horizon, where will compromises be made? Will you prioritize your deadlines, budget, or features? Prioritizing is the key to consistency. The more underlying principles you’ve established for your project ahead of time, the less stressful your decision-making will be down the road.

Of course, whoever’s footing the bill will insist on prioritizing all three, but realistically, something’s got to give. Those responsible for project management and operations must help the other key stakeholders understand this. When everyone understands the constraints and priorities from the outset, problem-solving comes down to reiterating the principles that you’ve already established.

Looking at where things can run concurrently is also a good tactic when timelines are adding a crunch to the schedule. The standard practice in the industry would be to run things linearly — work on B starts once A is completed, etc. — but we look at the overall objectives and see where dependencies lie. So B may not be able to start until A is completed, but because C isn’t dependant on A or B, it can start at the same time as A.

Outfitting your store: where it fits in your timeline

From design to production to installation, store fixtures play a major role in starting up new retail environments. When you work with a full-service company like CBSF, you gain the expertise of a partner with line of sight on the full scope of work. Our retail design-build process takes customers form rough sketches to grand opening with a single point of contact, meaning that we always communicate updates at every stage of the project, on all 3 key factors — quality, cost and time.

Our team of design and production experts know what it takes to grow from one location to the next. Getting it right today, and at this location, means you can drastically improve your chances for future growth and success. Give us a call at 905-264-0917 or contact us.

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At CBSF, we know what it takes to scale from 3 stores to 50 (and beyond). But there are common challenges that all retailers face which keep many from scaling successfully. We want to help you execute on your plans to scale, using our years of expertise and knowledge to do so. Discover what holds retailers back from scaling and what you do can do avoid those same pitfalls. Download “The 3 Challenges All Retailers Face While Scaling” here.