Being at the front-end of designing and opening a new concept, as we are, is exciting work. Except when the ‘perfection’ bug begins to creep into the process.
First-time operators are the ones who usually begin to bog down the process by insisting that every single piece of the puzzle is ‘perfect’ prior to moving on to other areas – whether it’s the perfect logo, the perfect POS system, the perfect exterior signage, table, chairs, tableware, etc… With an extremely limited budget, you really don’t have the luxury of pretending your back in the corporate world, with practically unlimited resources (and someone else’s money) with a project manager insisting that, “…there’s still work to do before we roll this out!.” Which of course, there is, but it doesn’t have to be done right now.
With an extremely limited budget (who doesn’t have one of those right?) the goal needs to be to get everything done that is critical to the success of the concept, just enough to positively impact that success and not spend one dollar more. There are two main reasons to do this. One, you are creating a new concept with imperfect (and incomplete) information about the market’s response to it. So moving forward when it’s 80% ready and leaving the remaining 20% afterward will give you time to make best business decision based on more and best feedback from your guests. Secondly, you can also refine the concept and it’s elements best when you actually have cash coming into the business to work with.
Of course there are areas that require more certainty than others, namely the layout of the permanent pieces of the FOH and BOH areas as well as the mechanical issues like plumbing, electricity and HVAC concerns. But everything else is up for grabs for the most part and having 100% certainty isn’t critical to your eventual success. The point is to build enough into your concept’s story (who you are, what value you bring to your market, etc…) to create enough short-term success that you can go back and fill in or refine the pieces that can help support the long-term success of the project. With limited resources, understanding and executing this process is crucial. Otherwise, you may have squandered resources that would have been needed elsewhere or may need to have been utilized differently in order to accomplish your goals. A new concept is a very fluid situation and lots of changes will occur from the time you open the door for the first time, to the time you are able to replicate your success in other locations.
So being able to prioritize what’s important and understanding how much import it is actually worth at a particular stage of development is critical to maximizing resources as well as your chances for success once you put the key in the door and serve your first guest.