If you’ve ever taken on a relatively simple kitchen remodel, then we don’t have to tell you that construction projects have a lot of moving parts. Trying to organize deliveries, installations, plumbers, electricians, etc., is a daunting task. Now, imagine building something from the ground up or taking an empty retail space and transforming it into a business that reflects your franchises image and brand identity.
Construction projects, regardless of size and scope, require a high level of organization and oversight. Having a great design is only one piece of the puzzle. Poor project management can easily derail the construction of your franchise. What should be a $500,000 project could easily turn into a $550,000 one, and that is real money.
As a franchisee, staying on budget and on schedule is critical to getting the doors to your business open and making a return on your costly investment. But, as most franchisees learn early and are reminded of often, there are many things that need to be completed before the doors of a franchise are opened for business. The last thing a franchisee needs on his or her plate is overseeing the actual hanging of those doors.
For this reason, we highly recommend that franchisees -- whether they are new to the game or seasoned vets -- invest in construction management services. In addition to the architect and general contractor, the construction manager is the third piece of the puzzle and can serve as the glue that holds all the pieces together.
The construction manager can pick up where the architect’s job ends, delivering and walking the franchisee’s designs and construction plans through the permitting process. From there, he or she can oversee each phase of the construction project, serving as a proxy for the franchisee. In many ways, the construction manager is an extension of the franchisee and the franchise, ensuring that the construction project meets the requirements, needs, and standards of the brand.
Bidding - Getting the Best Contractor at the Right Price
Franchisees who have been at the game for a while may have a preferred general contractor. But, for first time franchisees who have not built those relationships, having someone spearhead the bidding process with contractors can be instrumental in making sure you partner with the right company and get the best bang for your buck.
Even long-time franchisees can benefit from having the construction manager seek out companies and bids, especially if entering a new market or if their preferred contractor is
over-scheduled. A good construction manager will have a feel for the local GC pool and is likely to have relationships in place that can streamline the process.
In addition to sending out requests for bids, the construction manager works closely with contractors on the shortlist to prepare the bid and the overall budget to ensure that they align with the franchisee’s plans. The construction manager’s input and advice can help the franchisee make the best selection.
Scheduling - Keeping the project on track
Once a general contractor has been hired, the construction manager works closely with the GC on the construction schedule. From the get-go, the construction manager serves as a buffer or gatekeeper between the franchisee and GC. A construction manager understands the needs and demands of the franchisee but also speaks the language of the general contractor. He is able to reconcile their sometimes-competing priorities and ensure that the project remains on track by addressing issues in a timely and forthright manner.
Weekly Calls - Communication is key
The construction manager will schedule and run weekly update calls detailing progress, problems, budget issues, etc. If the project has any delays or issues, these weekly calls are critical to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and that those issues come to light and get addressed in a timely manner. This is critical to ensuring that the project stays on schedule so the franchisee’s doors can open when expected.
Periodic and Final Walkthroughs - Site inspections/visits
The construction manager is onsite for inspection walkthroughs, as well as regular walkthroughs with the franchisee. If the construction project is slated for six weeks, for example, there is often a walkthrough at the three-week midpoint. These walkthroughs are important for ensuring that the design is being met as per the plans and that brand standards are being met. The construction manager knows what the final space should look like and is in the best position to make sure everything is getting done to meet franchisees demands while also meeting local and state building codes. At the end of construction, the construction manager will perform a punch list walkthrough. At this walk through the construction manager will tag anything that has not been built correctly or needs additional work. The GC must complete all punch list items prior to the space opening for business. After all punch list items have been completed and approved, the construction manager ensures that the franchisee has all the closing documents, including as-built plans (link to as-built article), equipment manuals, service schedules, warranty information, and other records pertaining to every component within the space.
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