Consultant's Corner
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Began My First Facility Design and Construction Project
by Charlene Goff

During your career as a client liaison or a foodservice director, it’s likely that you’ll be a member of a team to renovate, remodel or build a new foodservice facility.  It’s an incredibly exciting step in your career and a daunting task. If you’ve had no experience in that process, how do you even know the questions to ask?
In developing the Foodservice Design BootCamp workshop, I conducted interviews with client liaisons about their first foodservice facility design project. One of the questions was, “What do you wish you had known before the project got started?” We talked about the knowledge that would have made a significant difference in the path their project took as well as the final outcome.
The answers may help any of you looking at your first “redo”.
1. Have a Vision. The stories I heard! Projects where there was no concept, no view of the guest experience, the menu or ideas about space utilization. What’s the vision? How does the vision fit with the corporate culture? What’s the vision for next year, five years, ten years? Respondents wished they had taken the time to put together a discovery session to get input and to define the vision for the guest service.
2. Understand your population, now and in the years ahead. Who will be using this facility, and how will it be used? Are they baby boomers who want regular hours, millennials who work and eat around the clock? What are the demographics of the population, what do they eat, where do they eat it, and what do they spend? Will there be other activities in the space? Advice: do the situation analysis, do the experience analysis, plan for your guests.
3. Be available. I heard time and time again, make sure you or a close team member, are available to review plans, check specifications and walk the project on a regular basis. Even if you aren’t the team leader, it will be your operation to run, know what’s going on. I heard about one project where, in process, it was decided that their operation really didn’t need easy access to a loading dock. Interesting…
4. Technology. There was a time when everyone knew that they would put in some type of POS system, and the IT department was “on it.” The advice was, don’t worry, we’ll deal with it later. Not so true anymore. Technology applications are now incorporated into almost every part of an operation. Those who went through the renovation and construction process suggested that technology should be part of the initial vision and design. Think about it in the earliest stages of the project.
5. Use a Foodservice Consultant. The question was phrased, “What team member helped you most in the process?” Most said the foodservice consultant. Of those who didn’t have one, the majority said they wished they could have hired one for the team.
There were many more knowledge “wishes” – health code knowledge, equipment selection, warranties, start-up, future planning, even scratch testing – and it goes on. But, these five points were mentioned most often.
Try to find out what the questions are! And, enjoy success in your first project.

 Charlene Goff is the Principal of Edgewater Marketing and a Partner in CG Strategies, LLC, producer of the Foodservice Design BootCamp workshop and the industry forum, Consultants’ Summit.