Jun 4, 2020
3:24 pm

From Easy to Involved: Planning a Convenience Store Renovation

Updating the look and feel of your convenience store can have a remarkable impact on your customer experience – and your sales. It can make the store feel cleaner and more inviting. And with a well-planned renovation, you can that can take your convenience store from dated to dynamic. Best of all, it doesn’t have to break the bank.

That said, if you’re going to do a renovation it is worth doing right. Let’s examine some standard renovation opportunities, ranked according to ease and out of pocket expense.

But first, why are you renovating?

The big question to ask is, “What is my reason for renovating?” Is it mainly cosmetic? Or is it to expand your service offering?*

If it is largely to freshen up the look, there are a number of easy and affordable updates you can make with minimal effort. If your plan is to introduce new services, the cost may be a little more substantial. However, new services mean new revenue opportunities, so any costs should be viewed as an investment.

(*Renovations to repair deficiencies are an entirely different matter, which we’ll leave to another day!)

Six common renovations

Here are six standard upgrades. We’ve rated them based on ease (Easy, Medium, Challenging) and according to the following cost scale:

$ Easy to swallow $$ Money well spent $$$ A long term investment $$$$ Call your banker!

1. Walls and Signage

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: $ – $$

Let’s start with the basics. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to clean-up space and make it sparkle. Yesterday’s trendy colours can be updated with more modern ones. Neutral tones will remain in style longer – but hey, paint is cheap – so don’t be afraid to go with a more contemporary palette. Feature colours can be used to draw attention to key areas and set a mood that will appeal to customers. 

Signage is another opportunity to modernize. Like colours, fonts can quickly become dated. There is a wide range of options at all price points: from vinyl decals to 3-D lettering.

2. Modernizing Finishes and Flooring

Difficulty: Easy to Medium

Cost: $$ – $$$

Replacing worn countertop, panels and tiling with modern finishes can instantly elevate the look of a store, and offer the advantage of easy cleaning. Many stores are now installing durable and attractive vinyl flooring options – including faux stone and wood grain finishes. Often, this can be applied right over an existing floor with minimal effort.

If you decide to go for Italian marble tiles and granite countertops, it won’t come cheap. Fortunately, a good interior decorator can find options that create a similar impression – at a fraction of the price.

Pro tip: Be sure to choose finishes that are contemporary, but will not feel old in five years. Select scratch and spill-resistant materials that are easy to clean.

3. Updating Lighting

Difficulty: Easy to Medium

Cost: $$ to $$$

Not long ago, most convenience stores were built with overhead fluorescent lighting. It was bright, economical, and low maintenance. The downside is that fluorescent lighting is not very inviting and can be quite harsh on the eyes. Today, LED lighting is the more energy-efficient choice and can be designed to provide ample task lighting while also setting a calming mood for customers. In addition, accent lighting can be installed to draw attention to key areas within the store. 

For the most part, lighting can be updated quite easily. Removing fluorescent light fixtures can be a bit involved. Replacing lighting is easier in spaces with removable ceiling panels. If the ceiling is drywalled, demolition and retexturing will be required. This can be staged, to minimize disruption to customers. Pot lights provide a nice clean look but are more work to install.

4. Washroom Renovation

Difficulty: Medium

Cost: $ – $$$$

If you are utilizing the existing plumbing layout (toilet and sink placement), a bathroom renovation can be quite economical. Sinks, toilets, and wall-mount urinals are relatively inexpensive, and many will reduce water consumption and lower utility costs. Costs can go up if you opt for touchless technologies and extras like video screens. Often, a fresh coat of paint and new hardware can make stall dividers look good as new. For an economical fix, repaint walls. For a step up, consider tile. 

The higher-end your fixtures and features, the bigger the budget. For businesses located on highways, having an enticing bathroom can be the key to repeat business – so a little extra effort can go a long way.

5. Installing a Gourmet Coffee Station

Difficulty: Easy to Challenging

Cost: $$-$$$

Coffee and hot beverage stations are a big draw for convenience stores. Many are upping their game with gourmet selections – from carafes offering a variety of blends to self-serve latte and cappuccino machines. 

Building the counter and shelving is the easy part. A double sink will be required. It gets trickier (and more expensive) if plumbing needs to be rerouted. Higher-end finishes and accent lighting can put the spotlight on the coffee station, and make it a key destination for customers.

6. Adding a Hot Food Offering

Difficulty: Medium

Cost: $$$ to $$$$

Adding hot food service is a sound strategy for attracting customers by appealing to their senses. The floorplan will need to be reconfigured to make space for the equipment, and it must be planned to make things easy for the service team. A double sink will need to be installed if there is not already one in place.

The cost of equipment – from ovens to warming racks – can add up. Yet putting in hot food service is a long-term investment in the success of the business, and is shown to quickly pay off.

Start planning your convenience store renovation today.

If your convenience store is ‘past its best-before date’ it may be time to consider a renovation! 

It’s generally recommended that convenience stores consider a renovation every 10-years. A good place to start is with some online research. Visit competitors. Make notes of what you like and what you don’t like.

If you feel like remodeling a store beyond your expertise, enlist the help of an interior designer. If you’re planning any updates that involve new electrical service and wiring, or structural changes, be sure to find an engineering and design firm that knows the convenience store business. It’s crucial to choose a reliable construction partner that can stage work to minimize disruption to customers (get recommendations and read reviews!)

Good luck with your renovation!

One retail engineering firm for multiple builds guide download