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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.


Juzcit Pressed Juice Freshens Up The Logan Hyperdome

There is a growing trend for shopping centres to create a market feel in and around food tenancies. Fresh fruit and vegetables on display, open fronted tenancies and an informal layout create a feel that is more in keeping with an open air market than a traditional shopping centre. Logan Hyperdome is the latest centre to follow the trend with the opening of the The Market Room at the beginning of July.

Juzcit 2 The Market Room is a breath of fresh air for the Hyperdome and creates an exciting new food experience for shoppers. Many of the kiosks are not yet fully  open however it is already apparent that the area has not only answered the growing demands for food retail but has also given the consumers a unique fresh food experience.

Juzcit opened their doors at the entry to the Market Room and have had fantastic feedback from customers and management. Offering fresh pressed juice and delicious spiced cold drip coffee Juzcit is the health alternative for a quick energy boost.

Juzcit is a cold pressed juice company with a goal to change the world, staring in our own backyard. Through their Juice Kiosk and home delivered fresh bottled juices they make it convenient and easy to live health and nourish ourselves with the highest quality foods.

Juzcit 1

The brief for the Juzcit kiosk was creating an open relaxed relationship with the customer. Rather than serve across a counter the layout is open to allow the staff to interact with and help the customers. Michelle the founder of Juzcit also wanted the materials of the kiosk to represent the brand; raw, natural and authentic. The design team from renew Design worked with Michelle to detail a simple design using plywood, stone and ceramic tiles.

Branding experts and graphic designers Brave Creative collaborated with us to provide their expertise and develop the brand strategy and logo and signage. The printed plywood panels that surround the kiosk share the Juzcit story and values with customers.

Creating a remarkable business takes a team of people. Juzcit is a great example of staring with a simple idea for a great product and the power of collaboration.

Project Team

Client : Michelle Caterson

Retail Designer : Renew Design

Graphic Designer : Brave Creative

Shopfitter : Rowe Shopfitters



The First Step to Business Expansion

They say that in order to reach your destination, you have to begin your journey by taking the first step. This applies to business expansion as well. Yes, you have a successful business, but are you ready to open another one?

One of the reasons why business owners are hesitant to venture into business expansion is the lack of knowledge on how to replicate success in a different environment. Copying the exact set up of the business is usually not enough. There are other factors to consider like the location, demographics, business operations, functionality and cost.

A Trusted Advisor 

Taking the leap from running one successful business to expanding and opening more stores is a big one. To open your first store you had to learn new skills. You worked out how to manage a fit out, hire staff, find suppliers and manage the day to day operations of your store. Often as a first time business owner, you had to learn how to juggle everything and manage decisions even when you were out of your depth because you were the only one to do it. Many business owners approach business expansion in the same way. Suddenly you are out of your depth again and juggling running your existing business with finding new sites and managing the design and fit out of your new store.

Lack of time and knowledge can be a big barrier for many business owners. The reason many successful business stay small is that expansion isn’t easy and takes the work of a whole team of people. So what is the solution? Working with an experienced retail designer can take away much of the stress of opening new stores and leave you feeling in control of the process. Always ask your designer upfront if they will assist you with design management, this means managing all of your approvals, consultants and timeframes to make sure your new store opens on time. Your designer can work alongside you, and guide you through the design and fit out of your store.

Working with the right people will make your new store fit  an exciting experience.

Replicate Your Store, Replicate Your Success

Replicating the Look and Feel of Your Current Store Across a Variety of Sites 

You have gone through the early days of working long days, nights, and weekends to get your business off the ground.  You have taken on staff,  grown a following of customers and made your business a success. For some business owners, this is enough, but ambitious business owners see the first successful business as a start. For them, this is only the beginning.

Now that you have the skills, product, and team – you are ready to open new stores and expand, right? From the business owners I have worked with going through this transition, it is evident that one successful store doesn’t always mean you are ready to open two, three, or a dozen more. The first thing you need to consider is how well your business is running without you? If running one store is your full time job, how will you handle running more than one?

To expand your business, you must separate your time from your business by documenting what you do in such a way that someone else can learn to do what you do.  A franchise consultant or a business coach can help you with this. It will mean an initial investment of your time, but will serve as the foundation for your business. After all, opening a new store is opening a new business, and your systems are your recipe book for success.

Consistency is the Key

In business expansion, consistency is the key to successfully replicating the look and feel of your current store across a variety of sites. Consistency creates brand recognition for your customers. Remember, your aim here is to allow your customers to recognize your newly opened store, and to create familiarity. How can your customers recognize your brand, that when you open up a new store, they will automatically know that it is a replica of an existing one?

You don’t necessarily have to copy the exact same store to ensure that it is recognizable. What works for one site does not guarantee that it will be the same for the other. Look at McDonald’s. It has millions of branches all over the world. The store layout are different in every location and yet, people know that it is McDonald’s. They are consistent with their logo and their colour scheme. The store layout varies but the system to order is the same.
The point is not just to copy what is already there, it is adapting to the new sites without sacrificing brand recognition and business functionality.


Communicating Your Point Of Difference

There’s a saying that goes this way, “Before you can know what you are, you must know what you are not.”

For instance, a café must know that they are not a fine dining restaurant. That being said, it is imperative that you, as a business owner, can communicate your point of difference to your customers.

What’s Your Story? 

What is special about you? What can you offer that others cannot? What do you believe in? What are you passionate about?

Let’s say that you are an art enthusiast and so are your ideal customers. You don’t have to curate a multi-million dollar art collection on the walls of your restaurant to communicate to your customers that you love art. You’re opening up a café, not a museum! So, how do you show your artistic side?

Be creative and don’t be afraid to share your story. I find the things that excite me and that I love are somehow linked to experiences I have had or people that mean something to me. I love daffodils because they remind me of frolicking through Hyde Park in London Springtime when I was 21. Seeing the bright sunshiny yellow in a cushion or a painting brings back those memories.

Define Your Point of Difference. 

I consulted with a restaurant owner who was passionate about quality health food. He made all of their bread on site and could talk for hours about the benefits of bread made without preservatives and chemicals. Yet looking around his business I couldn’t see the evidence of his passions anywhere. His fit out was beautiful but it lacked the passion and substance that I had found talking with the owner.

Share your experiences with your customers, let them get to know what you are passionate about and involve them in the story of your business. Be personal. Reach out to your customers by incorporating your beliefs and passions into your business. Pull them into your world and let them experience why you do what you do.



More Bums On Seats

In small businesses, cash flow is king and one of the common questions I get asked by restaurant owners is how I can get more bums on seats? There are a couple of tips that can help attract customers and turn them into raving fans.


 Are you trying to attract tourists with your authentic Australian burgers? Or are you serving Brisbane natives who want convenience and a healthy meal on the go?

Being clear on who your customer is will influence all areas of your business from menu, to marketing and store design. Understanding your customer is no longer just about age, and demographic. To create a concept that will make your customers want to experience what you have to offer you also must understand their needs. What can you offer that has meaning to your customers, makes their lives easier and will bring them back for more?

Put yourself in the shoes of your target customer. What are you interested in? What are the little problems that you would like to solve? How do you decide if a newly opened café or restaurant is worth the second glance? If you’re thinking “visuals” and experience– then you’re dead on.


Let’s be honest, concept and aesthetics have a lot to do with the success of a hospitality business, be it a café, a restaurant or a bar and grill. People tend to pick a place based on how it looks, and the experience that it offers.

There is a restaurant in the Philippines that has a weird concept, yet it has become wildly popular. The restaurant uses real toilet bowls as seats and bath tubs as tables. Pipes and bathroom tiles were used as décor. It doesn’t stop there. It also has a photo booth with a giant toilet bowl and lots of props for the customers to enjoy.

The restaurant offers a variety of food with a Filipino twist, however what they are really selling their customers is an experience. It is memorable, it is remarkable and it is worth dragging your friends along to experience.


In a product based industry it is easy to get caught up in selling products and fail to realize that the customer’s impression of the business is about everything they experiences; not just the food. Your customer’s experience is made up of the food they eat, the friendliness of the staff, and how attractive and comfortable the store environment is.

If you want to create a REMARKABLE customer experience, you need to come up with something new and unique to offer to your customers.

Top Hospitality Designs & Why They Work

Hello everyone!

A couple of days back, Renew Design came up with an idea to collaborate with fellow bloggers, designers, and shopfitters. If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to send us an email.

Working with other people in the industry not only inspires us, but it also gives us the opportunity to view things in a different perspective. It’s a two-way street that leads to diversity, and the creation of many more brilliantly creative ideas. What can I say? We all need a breath of fresh air every now and then.

Having said that, please give a round of virtual applause to our first ever featured post from Taryn Thomas of Thomas Joinery. Let her ideas on hospitality design inspire you to create you own beautiful works of art. 

Top Hospitality Designs & Why They Work

By: Taryn Thomas

Thomas Joinery | Shopfitting Communications Manager

Creating and building a design that’s ‘on-brand’ is the key to ensuring whether a hospitality business thrives… or merely survives.

A design and fit-out is a long-standing, physical interpretation of why your café, restaurant or bar exists. Whether it’s a cheap and cheerful café with vintage chairs or an exclusive wine bar with mahogany and gold leaf signage – your fit-out is a one-off chance to create the right ambience to attract the right market.

Through our experience in delivering unique hospitality venues all over Brisbane, these are our top hospitality design tips:

  1. Choose a feature material: Recycled timber, for example, continues to be an on-trend design choice for its earthiness, eco-friendly credentials and timeless style.
  1. Entry / Shopfront: Building or altering shopfronts can be a structural engineering issue but it’s worthwhile investing the time and money to get it right. Entries have a huge impact on converting passers-by into customers.

Image 2

Jamie’s Ministry of Food Mall Thoroughfare, Wetherill Park

  1. Signage: Our tip – get creative and install on-brand signage everywhere possible! Signage opportunities these days are limitless. We are tipping the comeback of next generation energy efficient 80s style neon lettering!

Image 3

Red Crane Flying Crane, Westfield Garden City

  1. Go the whole hog: ensure your design and fit-out is in sync with your brand promise, whatever it may be. If your café is striving for an eco-friendly vibe, are the materials in your fit-out sustainably certified? Are you using local service providers?

Image 5

Ministry of Food, Wetherill Park

Finally, our top tip is intangible. The best projects we’ve worked on are those where the relationship between the client, designer and shopfitter is authentic and the values of the designer and shopfitter align with the business owner’s and their brand. That mix creates a hospitality design and fit-out that works.



Disruptive Design, Making Your Customers Notice You

Whether it is scrambling through the Rubble Bars in Budapest or winding down back alleys in the grungy end of Fortitude Valley to visit “Greaser” (one of Brisbane’s new hotspots) customers are searching for experience. The young twentysomething hipsters with money to spend can be a fickle crew but one thing is for sure, they are looking for something different, something worth telling their friends about. The real question is, are you giving it to them?

The hospitality industry is becoming increasing competitive. There seems to be a new laneway bar or American food restaurant on every corner and customers have their choice of venues to wine and dine. However going out for dinner and drinks is not just about the food it is about the experience. Going “out” is a social experience, it is about the food the environment and the company. Your customers want to try something new. They want to be delighted. They want to take their friends out somewhere that will make them look cool for recommending it

Are you able to provide something special that can attract these potential customers? With so many different options available, what will make you stand out? Why will they choose you? A unique concept will draw more customers in. If you can pique their interest, chances are, they will want to visit your place not only for the food but for the experience itself.

What is your story?

What made you decide to go with the concept that you have chosen? This is where you communicate with your customers. Be personal and weave them a story, communicate your passion and make them part of the story. And ask them what they love about visiting your business? How do you become part of their story?  People visit and spend money with businesses they care about, to create a loyal customer you must be offering them something of significance to them. You may be a cafe and your product is convenience or you may be a baker who brings back the feeling of sitting in grandma’s kitchen.

What makes you remarkable?

The hospitality industry is one of the biggest and most competitive industries globally. With so many options available in the market, what makes you stand out? What can you offer your customers that others cannot? First you have to tempt them through the door to see what makes you remarkable and then you have to offer them an experience worth coming back for.

Your goal is to create difference!



How to Control Cost and Open a New Food Business

Cost is one of the major concerns business owners face in the process of expanding their businesses. Knowing how to control cost when opening a new food business or expanding an existing one puts you in control and avoids the stress of unforseen budget blowouts.

The fit out cost for a hospitality business usually comes down to three parts namely: equipment and services; approvals and consultation fees and shop fitting.

Services and Equipment

The hidden cost that many business owners do not see when selecting a site are the services. The services usually required for a Food Business at minimum are a grease trap, mechanical ventilation, electricity and gas and refrigeration. Understanding the services that are required for your type of business and getting expert advice on the services that are already available on the site you are considering can save tens of thousands of dollars from your cost.

Before you start a fit out put together a list of all the equipment you will need to operate your business. Look at your menu and the functions you will need in your kitchen area and counter and work with a good equipment supplier to provide details and costing of your equipment.

Knowing the total cost of the equipment and your financing options will help you manage your cash flow as usually equipment is one of the largest expenses in a hospitality fit out.

Design and Approvals

Having a realistic fit out budget and working with a designer who can work with your builder to manage cost is the second key to keeping your store fit out on budget. The types of finishes and furniture selected as well as the layout of the store can have a large impact on your final build cost. Your budget will need to allow not only for the cost of the construction and equipment but also any consultants you will need to work with and required approvals.

Fit out

To put together a price your builder will need accurate and detailed drawings of your store design. Usually pricing is only given once the design is complete. However, not having an upfront indication of what the fit out will cost often leads to budget blowouts, problems with financing, and delays in the construction and more. The solution to this problem is involving your builder in the design process so that he can offer feedback on the design and construction cost and anticipate and budget problems as your store design develops.

An understanding of the costs associated with your new store fit out will allow you to be prepared with sufficient financing and build to budget.


Managing A Food Business Fit Out

Are you one of the many business owners who want to grow your business and open new stores but you are not really sure where or how to start? Working closely with over a hundred food business owners in various stages of growth has helped me learn and understand the process of replicating the success of an existing profitable hospitality business. This is no formula for success but there are certainly and certainly tricks and tips that may help you along the way to growing your business.

The three common problems which hold business back from opening new stores are: lack of time, knowledge and capital. In this article, I will go through some of the knowledge on selecting sites that I have found to be missing in business that are struggling to take the leap moving from one store to many.

Business expansion doesn’t happen in a snap of a finger. The process of systemising your existing business ready for expansion, research into locations demographics and available sites and finally taking the leap to opening a new store may take months or even years. Much of this time is in research and planning. However, planning alone will not get you where you want to be, you have to put your plans into action if you want to make that dream of opening up a new store come true.

Site Selection

This is one of the most crucial stages in the process of expanding your business. It is at this point that you need to decide where you want to open up that new place. Some things that you might want to think about should include the following: target market, foot traffic, lease incentives and rent, and the services you will need.

Location is an important factor in the success of a business. Knowing and understanding the desires of your existing customers will help you to choose a location that appeals to the same demographic. It may be helpful to profile your existing customers. Where do they live? What areas do they work in? What is it that makes them visit your store? Thoroughly understanding your customer and the need your business fills for them will give you clarity in your choice of areas in which you can fill the same need.

It is also important to consider how easy it is for your customers to come to your store. Is the location accessible enough? Does it have enough parking space to accommodate your customers? Is it on the busy side of the road? How much pedestrian traffic is there? Minimising the effort that your customer has to make to visit you seems like a small issue but can have a big impact on your new business particularly in the early days. If you can locate yourself so that you are already surrounded by potential customers you will have higher visibility and a greater likelihood of attracting customers who are regular passers-by.

Once you have narrowed down a location you can start looking at individual tenancies.

Other things that you need to think about are the terms of the lease agreement. Is it fair? Is it beneficial to you? Getting someone to review this with is a smart move that you may want to make before closing the deal with the lessor.

You will also need to go over the property that you will be leasing. Does it need plumbing? How is the ventilation? Check also the pipes and lines, as well as the emergency exit. It should be at this point that you will know what needs to be fixed and repaired. If you’re not sure, you can always find someone to help you.

 Design and Approval

This is the part where you are required to work with a retail design manager to get a design assessment; and coordinate with the council to get a food license approval.

At this stage, you will be focusing more on how you want your store to look like and how it operates. Visualize your new store. How do you want it to be? What colour scheme do you prefer? What design or theme do you want to use? A commercial designer can guide you with this, and can also help you utilise the space for maximised profit.

Fit Out

It is during the fit out process that the builders get involved. To ensure that the fit out process is right on track, there should be proper coordination and open communication between the business owner, the builders, and the design team.

Working with a design firm will be an advantage because they can provide all the assistance you need starting from the selection of a site up to the opening of your new store.

If you want to get started, you can call our designer, Alisa, at 0415 199 466 for creative advice and more.