With fixture installations, success is in the details
By Matt Mangold, [email protected]
Over the course of managing the construction of some 600 or 700 retail stores, I’ve learned a lot about fixture installations. Through trial and error, and by observing the successes and failures of various partners, I eventually developed an awareness of the problem spots that lead to cost overruns and expensive delays. Dealing with a problem before it becomes a problem requires you to ponder the process a little, but you’ll find the answers make the front-end questioning worth it.
Obviously, cost is a big factor when deciding who is going to install your fixtures, but it’s not the only factor. Choosing the correct partner to use during the installation process can depend on several factors, including the level of expertise required for the installation and how complicated the fixtures are to install. Probably several partners will be able to handle the work and even more will be willing to bid for it. Sorting out the good from the bad can make all the difference.
The most obvious partner is your fixture manufacturer. That organization knows the most about how the fixtures are assembled and they’re already familiar with your expectations. In many cases, you probably have a better line of communication with them than you do with any other component of your store build team.
If you choose to bid out the work to another party, however, you can’t simply put the manufacturer on the back burner. Even if they’re not involved in the installation, you’re still going to need to come to several legal understandings with them, particularly when it comes to establishing the boundary lines for the liability of several key components.
First, you must have a way to evaluate the quality of the fixtures that arrive on site, as well as a way to verify the accuracy of the delivery. Additionally, you have to make sure your contract with the manufacturer spells out a clear chain of custody for the title of the fixtures. If the delivery truck drives off a cliff, you, the insurance company and the lawyers are going to want to know who is responsible for the load.
On a much more practical front, you’re going to want to ensure a good bill of lading is issued by the manufacturer and that someone capable of reviewing the bill of lading is there when the components come off the truck. Often, delivery is one of the places where a carrier is pressed to make up time, which can lead to careless and costly mistakes.
Even the characteristics of the truck itself should be confirmed before delivery. For example, not every truck is going to be capable of unloading at a strip center, which likely won’t have a dock. And don’t assume the carrier has thought about getting the equipment through the doors — if they haven’t, you’re suddenly behind schedule. It may be their fault, but it quickly becomes your problem.
Has your manufacturer provided you with adequate installation instructions? Manuals are a good idea if the installations are to occur at multiple locations. And have you considered the skill level required of the installers? Depending on the complexity of the job, some companies use a single individual with the necessary skills to oversee a ready labor force. If you decide to use your general contractor to do the install, a good manual or appropriate documentation is a huge help.
And then, of course, you’ve got the union issue. Depending on your company’s position on union labor and the aggressiveness of the local carpenter’s union, you may need to hire a local tradesman from the carpenter’s union. In many cases, the union will be satisfied if one or two people from the local union are on hand to support the installation, but you want be sure, since the ramifications of an unhappy union can be very public and very ugly. Some landlords even have stipulations in their lease agreements, so it pays to check.
Coordinating the onsite presence of the various trades, company personnel, IT and other agents is also important. Skillful orchestration of the worksite keeps the different participants from bumping into and running up on one another, which keeps everyone happy and avoids the additional costs associated with one trade waiting for another to finish.
Finally, a thorough, methodical approach to the final punch is key to making sure you wrap up the project on time and on budget. Every door, every surface, every light — everything should be checked in detail to make sure you find the problems during the install or as soon after as possible. Most likely your fixture manufacturer will be less likely to want to repair chips, broken doors, etc. if its not requested right away.
Matt Mangold is a president of Retail Store Solutions Inc., which provides management of store build projects, merchandising projects, store closures and asset recovery, fixture purchase and installation. He can be reached at [email protected].
Enjoyed reading this article. In my many years of handling store fixture installations by our union crews I have seen many expensive fixtures and displays sent into stores for installation that come with virtually no instructions and with no guidance on the site. Sometimes with clients they are looking only towards getting the best design and pricing for their fixtures and assume that once it is manufactured it is just sent over to their store and all is done. The reality is that when fixtures and displays require installations the installation crew is key to completing the success of the display. Some manufacturers take their work quite seriously and provide a Rep on site to instruct installation crews which protects the integrity of their fixtures as well as keeps the process running smoothly and on budget. However, many just ship the fixtures and expect the install crew to "figure it out". This ends up costing clients more money, aggravation and sometimes disappointment. If there was one thing I'd add to the article is that the manufacturers and designers who are intimately familiar with their fixtures should be on site to direct the installation crews for the best success. Martin Chase unioninstallers.com
Borders to open 25 seasonal Borders Express stores
ANN ARBOR, Mich. Borders Group announced it will open 25 seasonal Borders Express stores nationwide to serve customers during the holiday season. The stores are expected to officially open Oct. 25 and will operate through Jan. 31.
Averaging about 2,500 sq. ft., each store will carry top titles and big new releases, Halloween and holiday-themed items, a selection of kids books, plush and toys as well as an assortment of e-readers and related accessories, the company reported.
“The majority of these stores are located in malls where we had a presence at one time,” said Mike Edwards, CEO of Borders Inc. “Where it didn’t make business sense for us to operate stores on a permanent basis in these areas, we can open a seasonal store and serve the holiday shopping needs of our customers. We’re thrilled to once again be part of these communities.”
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Best Buy announces holiday initiatives
NEW YORK Best Buy announced a number of initiatives it says underscore the company’s intent to win during the fast-approaching and critical end-of-year buying period, especially in mobile technology, home theater, selection, services and pricing.
CEO Brian Dunn and other executives provided context to the company’s connected world vision, described in a Best Buy consumer study, Our World, Connected, that they contend provides evidence of the need to address the consumer’s influence over technology in new and more creative ways.
“People are driving technology innovation for the first time in decades,” CEO Brian Dunn said. “That’s why Best Buy will emphasize our distinctive assets that help make technology more accessible, and deliver the experiences that connect people to the services they need, the information they crave, the entertainment they desire and the people they love.”
Mike Vitelli, president, Best Buy, Americas, highlighted Best Buy Mobile, noting that this business unit is the single biggest driver of growth for the company this year. Best Buy Mobile is in all Best Buy big box stores and hopes to be in 150 Best Buy Mobile stand-alone stores in shopping malls throughout the United States by Thanksgiving, Vitelli reported.
Other Best Buy product and service offers include “Free Phone Fridays,” where Best Buy will offer a different smart phone in-store and online free each week with a two-year activation and “Store Pickup Plus,” a free site-to-store service, which will enable customers to pick up their online purchases conveniently at a Best Buy store and skip the shipping charge.
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