May 17, 2016
2:01 pm

Five Things You Need To Know When Choosing A Quick Service Restaurant Design Firm

Quick Service Restaurant Design Firm

Whether you are building a fast food restaurant using an existing corporate plan or template, or are creating an independent restaurant from scratch, you will require the services of a professional design consultant.

A design consultant will be able to customize your design plans to your exact needs and ensure it conforms to the local codes and regulations.So how do you go about choosing a design consultancy firm?

Here are five key questions you need to ask when scouting for a Quick Service Restaurant design firm:

1. Is the design firm truly integrated and full-service?

Designing a quick service restaurant requires the expertise of a multidisciplinary team. An integrated firm will typically have the following specialists on staff:

  • Architects and Interior Designers
  • Engineers, Draftsmen and Technical Staff who are experts in the field of:
    • Electrical Design
    • Mechanical Design
    • Structural Design
    • Civil Design
  • Stamping engineers that are licensed and authorized to stamp blueprints within your jurisdictions – making it convenient and easy to complete any project wherever you operate. For example, if you’re planning to build franchises across Canada, and want to use the same firm for all projects, you will want to ensure they are licensed from British Columbia to Ontario.

A Project Manager will also be assigned to guide the team and ensure they are all working towards the same goal. There are many benefits to choosing a design partner that offers all of these services under one roof, including:

  • Faster, more responsive service.
  • Clearer lines of communication and understanding between team members
  • Superior coordination and the ability to reduce/shorten project time lines
  • Integrated firms are typically cheaper than some of our competitors that have to sub-contract the engineering work out to third parties
  • As a client, you will only need to deal with one firm, instead of multiple consultants

Some firms claim to offer all key services in-house, but in reality they sub-contract these services to outside suppliers – typically at marked up prices. Do your homework and ensure that when they say they are full service, they truly are.

2. Do they have proven experience in the fast food restaurant business?

You don’t want a design firm that is learning on the job. Especially when it’s your job!

Designing restaurants, especially those with drive-thrus requires specialized knowledge and skill sets. Your project will benefit immensely by working with a design partner who is able to draw on the experience they’ve gained on similar projects. Their wisdom and insights allows them to work more efficiently, to anticipate challenges, and avoid costly mistakes.

Ensure the design firm knows its way around a kitchen and understands the essential elements of efficient work flow. In many cases, as franchise owners move to smaller sites, it is more important then ever to have faith that the design team can translate the corporate look and feel into a customized solution that works for your particular business location.

PRO-TIP: One way of gauging the design firm’s experience is by the questions they ask. The good ones will dig deep to learn all they can about your anticipated needs around traffic and sales volumes, long-term growth strategies and more.

3. Is the firm licensed to practice Canada-wide and are versed in local code?

This is an important question to ask if you plan on opening franchises in multiple provinces or different cities within the same province. It is vital that the the firm is accredited in the province and is familiar with the local requirements around code, zoning and other pertinent regulations.

Codes and regulations differ dramatically from province to province.  Some larger municipalities such as Vancouver and Toronto even have their own set of building regulations.  It’s imperative to ensure the design firm you are hiring is aware of what versions of codes and regulations are applicable based on the location of your project.  Finding a firm with architect and engineers that are licensed to practice in multiple provinces also ensures that they can take on any work you have to offer, regardless of location.

4. Are they genuinely interested in, and Committed to a long-term relationship?

When you find a design firm that is truly engaged in what you are doing, and invested in your continuing success, it can be magical. You should feel confident that you can rely on your design firm as a trusted advisor who will deliver as promised and provide honest advice and practical strategies for rolling out restaurants in an efficient and timely manner.

If something is not possible, your design firm should let you know upfront in order to manage expectations. It may mean telling you that the permitting process will take longer than you have allowed for in your project schedule. Or it could be a recommendation to reconsider the sequence of multi-restaurant builds to better meet site specific conditions.

5. Finally, does it feel like a good fit?

Before you choose a design firm, you should meet with them in-person if possible. Get to know their key people, their approach and values. Find out about their qualifications and capacity to handle your project. Ask questions; lots of questions! Make sure they have an appreciation of the scope and challenges of your project. Most importantly, always get references.

Choosing the right design firm will make your life infinitely easier and will save you from unnecessary stress and costs in your efforts to open for business.

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