For a business, time is money. That might sound like a cliché, but it’s the truth – any time spent closed is potential revenue that is lost forever. Not only will customers be unable to make purchases while your business is closed, but they also may be less likely to come back in the future because they are unsure of your status.
It’s against that backdrop that we want to talk about the importance of finding a way to stay open during a business renovation. Going through a renovation can be a great thing for the long-term health of your business, but it will be a smoother process if you can manage to stay open along the way.
Let’s dive right into our list of 11 different ideas that may help you keep serving customers until the renovation work is completed.
1. Create a Renovation Plan
You don’t want to enter into any renovation project casually. This is something that should be planned in detail well in advance to minimize disruptions and cut down on stress and headaches along the way. Not only does a good plan keep the project on schedule and (hopefully) on budget, but it will also serve to create a better finished product, which is ultimately what matters most.
First, consider what parts of the business will be impacted by the work and talk to your general contractor about how to limit those impacts. For example, will you be able to temporarily close small parts of your business in a rotating manner to allow for work to proceed while keeping the rest of the business open? Also, explore the possibility of particularly disruptive renovation projects – like those that are noisy or dusty – being completed outside of business hours.
If your business is seasonal to some degree, try to plan the bulk of the renovation work for the quiet season. A business in a summer tourist destination would naturally want to schedule their work for the winter when the crowds will be lighter. In such a case, operating on a limited or partial basis during the winter months wouldn’t be a big deal and the business could be back at full capacity by the time next summer arrives.
2. Communicate with Employees
It’s easy to focus entirely on your customers in this process, but your employees will be disrupted to some degree, as well. Keep them informed of your plans early on and make it clear how their work will be impacted.
This is important not only for the health of your relationships with the staff, but it’s also useful because the employees will be communicating directly with customers and answering questions about the renovation project. The more they know, the more they can tell your customers, and no one will feel out of the loop.
3. Hire an Experienced Handyman
Perhaps the easiest way to go wrong with a business renovation project is to hire a contractor that isn’t up to the challenge. First and foremost, only hire a general contractor or handyman that is properly licensed to do work in your state. That should be a non-negotiable point.
Generally speaking, general contractors are licensed and experienced construction professionals who can manage bigger renovation projects. However, depending on the scope of work and the value of the job an experienced professional handyman can be more than adequate for a renovation project. And they could save you a lot of money.
If you go the handyman route and you’re in a state that requires a handyman to be licensed, make sure they are. If you talk to one who is not properly licensed and insured, just move on to other options.
Also, it’s helpful to know what kinds of work a general contractor or a handyman can do on your property. Get started looking for contractors as soon as you know that you’ll be renovating your business so you can take plenty of time picking out the right partner for the job.
4. Set Boundaries for Visitors
Keeping everyone safe should be your top priority during a renovation. Whoever may be visiting your location – customers, clients, vendors, etc. – should be made aware of exactly where they can and can’t go during their visit.
Clear boundaries will keep these visitors out of harm’s way, and will also make it easier for your contractor to get the work done and stay on schedule. If visitors aren’t prevented from entering the construction zone, work will often be slowed down and the renovation will take even longer in the end.
5. Adopt Noise Reduction Strategies
Construction projects make noise – that much is inevitable. With that said, you can use some strategies to keep the noise down and make the space as enjoyable as possible to visit during the renovation.
If the renovations are happening in a separate room or section of the building from where customers are visiting, you may be able to use soundproofing materials on the walls to keep the noise to a minimum. It’s also best to schedule the construction process such that the noisiest parts of the work happen when no one else is around.
6. Keep Safety a Priority
We’ve already mentioned the importance of keeping visitors safe, but that focus really should apply to anyone in the area. Safety starts by physically blocking off access to the areas of the building that are under construction, but it can’t end there.
Other important steps include keeping first aid supplies on hand in case of an accident, requiring everyone to wear appropriate safety equipment, and having a clear reporting system in place to notify ownership or management of any incidents.
7. Keep Customers Informed
Use available communication methods to keep your customers up-to-date on any changes in business hours or availability due to the construction. Even if you are committed to staying open as much as possible during the renovation, there might be days when you have to close to allow the project to proceed.
For instance, you may need to close on a Monday and Tuesday of a given week to make it possible for the contractor to finish up a major part of the job. In that case, use email lists, social media, and other communication tools to make it clear that you won’t be open.
The better you can communicate with your audience the fewer complaints you will receive.
8. Take Advantage of Technology
One valuable strategy during a business renovation is to bring your audience along for the ride by publishing updates using various types of media.
With modern technology, it’s easy to take a quick video of the in-progress renovation and publish it to your social media channels. Suddenly, the renovation won’t be such an inconvenience for your audience, as they will feel like they are a part of it, and they’ll get excited about the changes that they’ll be able to enjoy when it’s all finished.
9. Prepare for the Unexpected
It’s an unfortunate reality of the renovation process that not everything is going to go according to your plan. Be prepared for unexpected events by having a buffer in your budget for any overruns that occur, and also have a clear safety protocol in place if there is an emergency.
Also, don’t plan any big events or sales for the days immediately after the renovation is scheduled to be done. It might not quite be finished when expected, so it’s better to have some cushion before you plan on welcoming everyone back to the completed space.
10. Monitor Construction Progress
Even if you have a great general contractor working on the project, you’ll still need to carefully monitor how things are going so you can avoid excessive delays or safety issues.
It’s a good idea to put a single person in charge of overseeing the renovation – this could be the owner in a small business, or a site manager for a larger company. That way, the contractor will know who to speak with when there is a problem, and that person can be responsible for monitoring the construction zone and reporting any issues that arise.
It’s also possible to incorporate some technology like security cameras into the process to make it easier to watch the work progress without physically being present.
11. Take Advantage of Insurance Coverage
Having proper insurance is absolutely essential in this kind of project. Of course, you should already be carrying relevant business insurance to cover what happens on your property, but your contractor should be insured, as well.
Just as we mentioned earlier with confirming that your handyman has a license, you also need to make sure that they carry sufficient insurance for the work they will be doing. Allowing an uninsured contractor to work at your location is taking on a risk that isn’t worth it. Even an experienced, careful contractor can make mistakes or have accidents, so an active insurance policy is critical for everyone’s protection.