Restaurant Development & Design

JAN-FEB 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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2 2 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 Consultant's Take BY JOE CROWLEY Senior Project Manager Trinity Building + Construction Management Stop Chasing a Start Date A s a senior project manager for a general contractor that specializes in restaurant projects, I've helped clients open restaurants in several different states. While most of these openings have gone smoothly, I've no- ticed a trend recently that has resulted in some less-than-smooth openings. Sometimes when openings run into trouble, it's out of the hands of the client and GC. Maybe bad weather pushed the opening later than the owner wanted. Maybe a manufacturer didn't come through with some fixture or furnishing as promised or the exist- ing structure had more problems than anyone realized. But sometimes owners can cause havoc and headaches for themselves. This happens when they insist on start- ing a project before it's ready. I call this "chasing a start date." I understand what they're thinking. Most of the clients I deal with want to get started because they want to open as soon as possible. These clients will talk about how "the rent starts now" or how they need to be open for a holiday or a certain date because it's a big weekend for that area. A restaurant that is not open is a restaurant that is losing money, as everyone knows. This plays into one of the biggest misconceptions in construction: that starting sooner means opening sooner. Starting a project is extremely easy. For a successful project, however, you need to review the big picture to understand when it truly makes sense to start. Figuring out the appropriate start date begins with a review of the design documents. In my estimation, if you don't have at least 85 percent of the design done before you start, you're set- ting yourself up for trouble — the type of trouble that can cost you weeks or months and literally tens of thousands of dollars. These problems start with the bid process. If you are competitively bid- ding a project out to multiple general contractors before you get to that 85 percent with the design, then you have almost guaranteed that you will have more added costs during the project than needed. This can be traced back to having to carry "allowances" for a project. An allowance is a dollar value placeholder for scope/information not shown or only partially shown in the drawings. This dollar value, owners hope, will cover what they end up deciding to do. Having no allowances on a project may not be realistic, but limiting allowances certainly is, and there are plenty of reasons to do so. When general contractors competi- tively bid a project, they typically price only what is shown on the drawings and will only factor in an allowance number if the client requests they do, knowing the other general contractors are car- rying the same value on their bid. This helps both contractors and owners. If GCs tried to include allowances while their competitors didn't, owners would have trouble making apples-to-apples comparisons of different bids. Mean- while, any contractor that included these allowances when competitors did not would end up submitting one of the higher bids, leaving them with practi- cally no chance of getting the project.

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