Retail Engineering and Design: Familiarity Enhances Efficiency for Chain Expansion.
By Devin Mahaffey, President
As anyone in the retail world will tell you, consistency across all locations is the key to a successful brand.
Whether you’re Starbucks, A&W, 7-Eleven, Canadian Tire or Old Navy, customers expect the same brand experience at every store in every town and city across Canada. This is reflected in:
- The products you sell,
- The level of service you provide, and
- The look, feel and layout of your stores.
Engineering and design firms like CTM are tasked with capturing that look and feel from one location to the next. The more stores we work on for that brand, the more efficient and valuable we become as a partner in their expansion.
Design standards aren’t simply ‘cut and paste’
When you build a new store, you hire an engineering and design firm to follow your templated National Design Standard.
It should be as easy as a simple cut and paste from location to location, right?
If only that were the case.
There can be hundreds of differences and adaptations required from one location to the next – even if you’re building from the ground up. In instances where you’re moving into an existing site, that number climbs.
Unlike a jigsaw puzzle, where every element fits neatly into place, we often have to ‘engineer’ our own solution. Yet it must still feel at home with the brand, address your business needs and adhere to all bylaws and building codes.
The more familiar we are with a design standard, the better we can execute the design and permitting package. When a project is straightforward, we can work quicker and more efficiently than we might with an unfamiliar brand.
And when we encounter something unexpected, our familiarity makes it easier to pivot and provide a viable alternative solution.
Adapting a design… 74 times
Here’s a great example of this. Not so long ago, 7-Eleven acquired all Alberta and BC On the Run convenience stores from Esso: 74 stores in total.
Like most international franchises, 7-Eleven has several variations on its corporate design standard to accommodate a variety of floorplans.
However, the On the Run locations they acquired were far from uniform. Most were significantly smaller than the typical 7-Eleven, averaging between 1,000 and 2,800 sq ft.
Our team was required to put on their ‘problem-solving’ hats.
Many locations required electrical and HVAC system modifications to accommodate 7-Eleven’s hot food and beverage offering. Sinks and new plumbing were required in some stores. Most notably, different merchandising systems were deployed to allow the stores to carry the range of products 7-Eleven is known for. Meanwhile, all interiors were upgraded to best align with the latest 7-Eleven standard, including exterior signage and branding.
By following a detailed process across all locations, we successfully converted each store (design, permitting and construction) within 10-12 weeks. The entire project was staged over 13 months.
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Lessons were learned and applied from one location to the next, streamlining the process. This proved invaluable given the timelines involved.
Capacity is key
Providing full-service engineering, design and permit package submission for multiple projects across the country requires a large and dedicated team. Your brand demands a group that is committed to your success and able to prioritize your project.
Many people don’t know this, but at CTM, we have an integrated team of 45 engineers, drafts people, designers and architects (through the combined resources of CTM Design and CTM Architecture).
We can provide all engineering and design work internally – without the added expense or uncertainty of outsourcing. Not only is CTM licensed to practice across western Canada and Ontario, we’ve completed thousands of projects across hundreds of municipalities.
Understanding enhances execution
When an engineering and design firm knows your brand and has experience in the jurisdictions you are targeting for expansion or modernization, they can hit the ground running.