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Strategies for Renovating Facilities Without Disrupting Operations

 Posted on: February 24th, 2023

A contractor and businessperson shake hands over a table holding blueprints of a business renovation.

Business renovations can create a new and improved image for customers, improve morale for employees, and increase the level of cleanliness or comfort for everyone who visits your company.

Renovations for all types of businesses can include indoor improvements like new paint, fresh carpet or tiles, or more efficient energy usage. A complete interior remodeling project involving all of the above can make a business more attractive to both customers and employees. Meanwhile, on the exterior, resurfaced or replaced pavement, new windows, more colorful awnings, or a fresh coat of paint can increase curb appeal and get the attention of passers-by.

Extensive renovations often require a business to close its doors. Noise, dust, fumes, and safety issues could make regular operations impossible. However, ceasing operations, even for a few days, could cause several issues like lost revenue or project delays. Worst of all, your business could lose existing customers to competing companies — even after you reopen.

With proper planning, businesses can remain open during renovations or limit the amount of time they have to remain closed. Here is what owners and managers need to know when planning how to complete renovations without disrupting operations.

Prioritize Accessibility

Accessibility is key to keeping a business open during renovations. Customers need to be able to get in and move around retail spaces, and office personnel need unhindered access to the systems and equipment necessary to do their jobs.

Even when a company is undergoing construction work, it needs to remain in compliance with accessibility standards laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This could include ensuring access to wheelchair ramps. Also, if there are any temporary structures, such as plywood platforms that help customers or workers navigate around a construction area, ensure that they are accessible. For example, ensure that the temporary structure is wide enough for a wheelchair and consists of smooth, stable ramps.

You can also add temporary or permanent parking lot safety features. These can help improve safety for every customer and worker not only during construction but afterward, as well.

By planning ahead, you can ensure necessary routes around your business remain accessible to all employees and visitors and comply with ADA standards.

Develop a Plan of Operations With Other Staff Members

While you prioritize access for customers and visitors, you should not overlook the needs of staff members. Though employees do not need to know the minute details of renovations, they should be aware of any new processes that will take place during the project.

For example, management can give employees early warning about the little changes that could affect their workdays. Perhaps some doors will be inaccessible during the project or certain restrooms could be blocked. By pointing out alternative entrances and facilities, you can avoid frustrations, delays, and feelings of inconvenience.

Business owners and managers can also get feedback from employees about what they need to perform their work. By involving workers in planning, you can avoid issues like blocking off access to necessary equipment or facilities. Alternatively, you could create a plan to move equipment or schedule specific work tasks before or after renovations.

Acknowledge the Possibility of a Decline in Business

A decline in business is always possible during renovations. This issue is especially noticeable if your project involves tasks like resurfacing pavement around the entrance to your building or requiring workers and visitors to access the building from a side or rear doorway.

Clear signage and additional accessibility features, such as ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps, can help ensure access and direct customers to the correct entrance with minimal confusion.

For retailers and other sales-related businesses, renovations can cause a decline in profits. If there is noise or closed-off sections, customers will not want to spend as much time in your business. Research has shown a link between the amount of time spent in a brick-and-mortar store and the number of purchases a customer makes. Even with a plan for access and steps that limit disruptions for customers, revenue could still drop.

Go Digital

Digital technologies can make certain business operations less dependent on the location and traditional business infrastructure. Switching to digital could positively impact both interactions with clients and the productivity of workers. Start by:

  • Organizing remote work: Employees could work remotely during renovations. By arranging virtual collaboration platforms, planning for video conference meetings, and adding chat applications for easy communication, you can give workers the resources to remain productive and connected outside the office.
  • Automating manual tasks: Software can handle data entry, basic bookkeeping, and other jobs that would take up employee hours. This could give employees the flexibility to work remotely or change office locations during the project.
  • Enabling online ordering: Instead of coming to your place of business, you can encourage customers, through communication or promotions, to make purchases or orders online. Perhaps a promotion like free delivery or car-side service would convince existing customers to continue using your business during your building improvements.
  • Taking customer relationships online: Another option is to digitize customer relationship management. In addition to automating promotional emails, data collection, and customer classifications, you can start communicating with clients virtually to maintain connections while the office is under renovation.

The advantage of digital changes to work, marketing, and customer relations is that they could still provide benefits after construction is complete. For example, customers could still have the option of online ordering, and automated tasks could free employees for higher-level work instead of getting bogged down in mundane, data-entry work.

Finish Bigger Tasks After Hours

Certain tasks are more invasive than others during a renovation. For example, painting and laying carpet or tile requires you to block off an entire area until the job is done. The same could be true for potentially dangerous jobs, such as welding. Also, things like window replacement or roofing may expose workers and customers to the elements, which could be uncomfortable during some seasons.

Completing these tasks after hours can help you avoid having to shut down the entire business. Some contractors understand the need for business operations to continue during the project, so they may help accommodate this by working overnight or performing some jobs before the business opens for the day.

This strategy is often easier for industrial companies or offices because the remodeling team usually has the entire weekend to handle the noisiest, most dangerous, and most invasive tasks.

Even if this is not possible, you can work with the contractor to ensure your business remains open during peak hours. You might have to open late or close early, but at least you can remain open for the hours when revenue and activity are at their peaks.

Use a Good Project Management Software

Organization and planning are key for businesses that choose to remain open during renovation projects. Project management software can help with the organizational aspects of the renovations.

With these programs, a business can manage schedules, notify employees of construction-related changes, and even help with collaboration and communication for remote work.

Here are three such programs:

  • Asana: known for its clean design, communication tools, and customization options, including the ability to organize projects using board and list views;
  • Trello: a board-based management platform that offers a feature-rich free option, known for being intuitive and easy to set up for people who are not technically inclined;
  • Monday: online software with robust communication tools and the ability to organize projects according to teams and enable collaboration.
  • With proper planning, communication, digital tools, and attention to detail like ADA compliance, businesses can remain open and continue to earn revenue during major renovation projects.