How to… refresh a venue

07 December 2012
How to… refresh a venue

Refurbishing? Remember to Keep your objectives clear and focused

In such a competitive world, even good operators need to keep investing in their premises for a number of reasons: primarily to keep the venue looking fresh and loved but also to improve the layout to optimise the efficiency of service. It's often the case that small tweaks can make big differences. In addition, it gives existing customers something to talk about, and new ones something to come and see.

The right amount to spend on a refresh will depend on a few factors, including how much budget there is available, the arrangement of the property (ie, freehold, long lease or short lease), and the anticipated sales that the refresh will create.

The investment may be "defensive" - to prevent a future drop in revenue - or "offensive" - to drive an increase in revenue. Whatever the situation, it is important to identify the budget, and the objectives of the investment, at an early stage.

The brief given to the development team (designers and contractors) can then be very specific, and again should be focused on meeting the objectives of the investment, as described above. It is important to advise the team what you want the impact to be, and to channel their energies into delivering against this brief. It is all too easy to let a specific refurbishment idea become a general premises overhaul that could be effectively carried out as a maintenance operation.

The 10 Contractor Commandments for an affordable fit-out

1 Use the experts
Get early advice from an architect on what is possible, and what will require formal approvals from local authorities or the landlord (planning issues, building control, structural alterations).

2 Get the basics right
Start by ensuring that the building functions properly. This is the time to improve the electrics, heating, ventilation or plumbing, if required. Doing these improvements in a planned manner, while the services are exposed, could be cost-effective in the long term.

3 Don't throw the baby 
out with the bath water
Ensure that you retain the features or characteristics of 
your premises that have made 
it into a success. Change for the sake of change can be a waste of money.

4 Make do and mend
Don't rip out well-built fixtures or fittings - think about moving them around, or recladding, refurbishing and/or redecorating them.

5 Paint is cheap
The impression of significant change can be created by the innovative use of colour and texture, at a low cost.

6 See the light
A change of lighting can transform a venue. Use the advice of your electrical contractor, who will be able to help you select light fittings to suit your budget.

7 Feel the quality
Spend your money on the surfaces that your customers will touch and feel - upholstery, bar counters, vanity units. This will give an impression of luxury that does not need to be replicated everywhere.

8 Illusions of grandeur
Your contractor should be able to advise you on how to achieve the look of the real thing, without spending a fortune. There are plenty of materials on the market that are cost-effective substitutes for more traditional finishes.

9 Plan, plan, plan
Once you start changing 
your mind, the bills will start adding up and the works will take longer. Start with a very clear brief, and only change it if you are completely clear and happy 
with the cost of changing your mind.

10 Plan, plan, plan again
Allow plenty of time to find, appoint and negotiate with your contractor. Give him adequate time to plan his works. All this planning will reduce everyone's costs, and ultimately minimise your bill.

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