August, 2015
Building a Team of Experts

Building a Team of Experts

Whether you are opening your first store or fiftieth you will need to work with a team of people to make your vision a reality. Many business owners feel overwhelmed and out of their depth dealing with the fit out of a new store. Advice you can trust from people who have been through the process before can be invaluable. So how do you build a team of experts? Who do you need to contact? How much do you need to pay? The people you need are different for different store types. For Hospitality Business you will usually need a Retail Designer, graphic Designer and Shopfitter at a minimum.

Retail Designer

Your retail designer is usually the first person you engage and their job is to design your store and guide you through the fit out process. Your designer will work with you from initial sit inspection to develop your concept for the store and will produce drawing for council approvals and prising by your shopfitter.  Your designer will also help you to manage council approvals and centre management approvals. There are some designers who have a package price for different types of jobs while some will price based on the requirements of the job. You should expect to agree on the price upfront based on the services you need.

Graphic Designer and Branding

The services you require from your graphic designer can vary widely. Usually you will need logo and signage design at a minimum. You may also want your graphic designer to prepare menus, loyalty cards and marketing materials. As for the prices, it will depend on what you need exactly. Do you need to develop and unroll a new brand concept? If you have an existing logo and signage, you may only need a graphic designer to make minor adjustments.


Your shopfitter helps you to manage building costs and is in charge of construction your new store. A good shopfitter will work with you from site selection all the way to opening your new store. He can provide you with advice regarding services and construction costs. During the fit out period your shopfitter will be mange the subcontractors and ensure your new store is completed on time and to a high level of finish.

Hydraulic Consultant

It is important for hospitality businesses to work with a hydraulic consultant for the design and submission of the plumbing and drainage plans. Their rate is usually a package price based on the amount of work required. Based on the consultants I work with I usually allow between $1000 to $1500 on small tenancy jobs.

Building Certifier

Your building certifier is in charge of issuing your building approval. They will look through your drawings before construction to ensure your design Meets the Building Code and will also inspect the completed store before issuing your Building Approval. The fee that they charge will depend on the size and complexity of your fit out and the degree of structural work. As a rule of thumb, I allow between $1500 to $2000 on tenancy design jobs, based on the rates my consultant offers.

Town Planner

As for town planners, their advice is only needed in selected fit outs like if you require a development application. Your designer should always check with a town planner upfront ton confirm if a DA will be required for your site.

Understanding who you need to talk to about what can make it easier to get started in a new store fit out. Speak with your designer or shopfitter first and ask for recommendation for people they work with often and trust. Good Communication between everyone involved in your store fit out will create the best end result.

Understanding Fit Out Costs & Limiting Financial Risks

There is a saying by Dave Ramsey that goes this way: “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”  Knowing where your money is supposed to go is an essential part of business expansion. Having a realistic budget will save you time and will free you from unnecessary delays and stress. It will speed up the process of building new stores, and curb possible hindrances caused by financial restraint.

Most business owners I have worked with often ask how much it would cost them to fit-out the new store. This is a common problem in the industry if you do not understand the design and fit out process that is why it is necessary to know the roles that your designer and shopfitter play in managing the cost of the project.

An entrepreneur must have a clear understanding of how he or she wants the new store to look like and operate. First, create a list of the furniture and equipment necessary to keep the business running smoothly would help determine how much it would cost to replicate the success of their already existing store. Second, get a builder to run through the description of the typical store layout and floor plan for an estimate of the fit out cost.

In a hospitality fit out, your key costs usually come down to four things:

  1. Equipment
  2. Services
  3. Fit out
  4. Consultants and approvals


Put together a list of all the things you need, including, but not limited to your cooking equipment, bench top equipment, fridges and freezer, stainless steel shelving, storage equipment, and counter tops, plus all other equipment that will be included in your retail display and counter area.

Give your equipment list to your equipment supplier for pricing and also to your shopfitter and designer to allow them to understand the equipment you need to allow for in your typical store layout.


Services are a hidden cost that can easily be overlooked and have a big impact on your budget. Knowing your equipment requirements is the first part to understanding your services costs. It is best to have a sit-down with your shopfitter so you could discuss the cost of the installation of the equipment. He can give you the price range for the installation of grease trap if needed, exhaust canopy, as well as electric circuits and wiring connections.

Fit out

Fit out costs can be a bit more challenging as there are a number of people involved in controlling these costs. The problem arises when pricing is only discussed once the design has been resolved and documented. The way the fit out industry works currently, most shopfitters will not price a job until they have detailed drawings to base their pricing on.

Understanding your fit out costs upfront relies on close collaboration between your shopfitter and your retail designer. The way I approach cost is to give the business owner as much information upfront as we can. To do this we put together a concept plan within the first couple of weeks of your store design and run through a value management exercise with your shopfitter which will ultimately give you confidence that costs are under control.

Consultants and Approvals

Completing a new store design takes a team of experts, such as the retail designer, graphics designer, shopfitter, and others who will assist you in different areas to get the best possible result. Knowing who these key players are, and understanding their roles will give you an idea of who you need to contact to understand pricing. We will discuss more of these on my next post.