Choosing the Right Shopfitter

Choosing the Right Shopfitter

Some of my clients are wary of using a shopfitter because they believe they can spend less if they manage the fit out themselves. This makes them reluctant to commit to working with a shopfitter upfront even though, in my experience, their assumptions are rarely correct.

As a business owner, one of your scarcest resources is time. Although paying a shopfitter to manage your new store fit out on your behalf may appear to be a large expense, it is important to view this as part of the overall picture. The role of a good shopfitter is to provide expert feedback and advice on costs and how buildable your design is. This allows you to make informed decisions through the design and fit out process. Also, once the fit out of your new store begins, your shopfitter will manage the timeframes, subcontractors and costs to deliver the completed fit out by the agreed opening date.

The real cost of managing a fit out without this expert advice can be found in the cost of the mistakes and also the cost to your time. Very few business owners start the day with spare time and if your time is suddenly taken up solving problems on site that are well outside your area of expertise, the other areas of your business will suffer. And for the few weeks leading up to the opening of your new store, managing the fit out and finalising the approvals is a full-time job. If anything is missed or there are delays, it will often result in a delay to the opening of the store and a further loss of revenue.

Choosing the right shopfitter depends on your needs and your level of experience regarding opening new stores. If you are not yet confident in this process, finding a shopfitter who will be generous with their time upfront and give you a little extra advice will be invaluable. Many shopfitters will be willing to put in a little bit of extra effort to help build the relationship upfront. But be aware that your shopfitter is not getting paid until you have signed the contract, so the service they can offer upfront will have a limit. However, if your shopfitter is only willing to come on board once they have priced the job, this may not provide you with the upfront advice you need to accurately predict cost and any buildability issues.

Your choice of shopfitter will have a significant impact on the quality of your new store fit out. Choosing someone who understands your vision and works collaboratively with the rest of your design team will ensure your vision is translated into a successful end result. Good communication between everyone is critical to making the fit out process smooth and enjoyable for you.

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.