Multi Site

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4 Trends in the Restaurant Industry we learned at the NRA Show

Restaurant Rennovation Trends

Last week, Luke from PPM attended the annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) show in Chicago.  The NRA show is the biggest event of the year for the restaurant industry, featuring keynotes and education sessions with top foodservice experts, networking with all the top players in the industry, and hundreds of exhibitors showing off some of the latest developments in food preparation systems, transportation, point-of-sale, customer experience, and much more.

PPM had never attended the NRA show before, but over the last several years we’ve completed numerous As-Built Survey programs for clients in the restaurant industry:  McDonald’s (multiple times), Wing Stop, Papa Murphy’s, Wendy’s, and the biggest one of all – over 1,200 KFCs in 2016.  We’ve found that our clients usually need accurate As-Builts of their restaurants for 1 of 2 reasons:

  1. They are undergoing a major remodel program (in KFC’s case, it’s the customer dining area)
  2. They are expanding and opening new locations

With so much As-Built activity happening for PPM in the restaurant industry, we decided that the time was right to get out to Chicago and learn more about how the industry operates.  So over the course of 2 days, Luke visited hundreds of booths, listened to speeches, attended social events at night, and best of all… stuffed himself with all the free food samples that were offered on the exhibit floor.  When he got back to Long Beach and emerged from his food coma, we talked about what he had seen and heard at the show.  Based on that experience, here are 4 emerging trends that stood out:

  1. Robots.  I’m not talking about the human-like kind that walk around, talk to you, and help you defeat Darth Vader (yet) but rather the stationary machines that can perform any number of repetitive tasks.  Many factors are coming together to make the use of robots more viable including decreasing costs, rising pressure on wages, a steadily improving labor market (making it more difficult to hire), more emphasis on food safety, 24/7 availability, and more.  It’s true – before too long that Big Mac you have for lunch could be made by a robot.
  2. Point of Sale Innovations.  Ever since the invent of “fast” food, almost every trip to one of these establishments has started the same way:  Wait in line, and when it’s your turn, tell your order to a cashier.  Pay, receive your number, and wait to be called.  While this experience is still common, you’ve probably already noticed that it’s no longer ubiquitous.  Many restaurant chains including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Panera Break, have embraced the use of kiosks to allow customers to place their own orders.  Another growing trend is the use of smartphone apps where customers can skip the line altogether by ordering and paying with their phone, then simply picking up their food when they arrive.  As with robots, the intersection of labor costs and technology (along with customer preference), is fueling this change.
  3. Data Analytics.  There is ALOT of data generated with all those POS transactions in a restaurant.  Add to is the increasing use of smartphone apps which allow the restaurant to gain previously inaccessible information about each specific user.  With more data, more powerful computers, and smarter software, its a great time to be in the data analytics business.  Restaurants are increasingly leveraging this data to help them find trends in sales patterns, the effectiveness of promotions, consumer preferences, and countless other insights.
  4. Restaurant Design.  Restaurants are constantly changing their layout, decoration, and other design elements (some more frequently then others).  Some recent trends in design include energy efficiency, a more streamlined counter, and bright, comfortable dining areas that encourage customers to linger.

As these and other trends continue and the restaurant business continues to evolve, PPM provides value to our clients by giving them the “As-Built” information they need to plan and execute remodels and other store improvements.  Our nationwide survey team can handle up to 50+ As-Built surveys per week, allowing a high-volume remodel program to proceed on schedule and on-budget, with minimal downtime for the operater.  We work hand-in-hand with our client’s Planning and Design teams, to ensure that they are getting the exact As-Built information they need, the way they need it, for every restaurant.

Want to chat about how we can help you be successful on an upcoming restaurant remodel program?  Shoot me an email by clicking here.

Thanks for reading!

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Planning a Multi Site As-Built Survey Program – Get It Right!

4 Critical Steps to Planning a Multi Site As-Built Survey Program

Last week I wrote an article about a specific type of As-Built services that PPM began offering in 2009 – “Multi Site” As-Built surveys.  A Multi Site survey program involves 2 or more locations (often hundreds) of the same type, and for the same client – most typically retail, restaurant and banking brands that are doing a regional or national remodeling program. These high-volume programs have grown to become the majority of our business, and we believe the primary source of future growth opportunities for PPM.

Let’s say a potential client contacts us with an upcoming store rebranding program.  They need to get 500 retail locations surveyed over the next 6 months.  That’s a lot of manpower and logistics to coordinate – what do we need to do in order to successfully execute this request?  Compared to a “Single Site” project, the stakes are much higher for both sides – any mistake that is made or shortcut that is taken in the beginning is magnified many times over, creating a domino effect down the line that can wreak havoc on the program timeline and results.  We have learned that it is absolutely critical to invest the time and energy needed in the beginning to communicate openly with the client, and plan all aspects of the survey program PRIOR to getting started with the site work.  We believe this so much that we’ve had to turn down projects when the necessary information just wasn’t forthcoming from the client, because we didn’t want to put ourselves or our clients in a situation where there’s any doubt at all as to the ultimate success of the program.

Here’s the 5 steps that we have identified for planning a successful Multi Site Survey program:

  1. Discuss Program Objectives
    • What is the purpose of the potential program, and what is our client’s role? With all the parties involved, it’s helpful to know where we are in the chain – no pun intended.
    • Is the client bidding or do they have the work secured? Our objective with this question is to get our services lined up as EARLY as possible within the client’s process.  This ensures alignment of budgets, products/services, and schedules/timelines which allows us to hit the ground running when the time comes for the full rollout.
    • What is the current workflow/process? This stems from the question above to get a sense of how the client is used to working on these programs and, also, to let them know how we typically run programs. Every program is unique and we love having these conversations early on to better know how to customize our services or processes during these early phases – with the goal of delivering a streamlined, design-ready package.
  2. Gather Program Information
    • Site information (size, layout, quantity, locations, corporate or franchised, etc..)
    • Scope of Work (As-Built Plans needed, item checklists, areas of focus)
    • Deliverables (CAD file, PDF, photos/videos, customized output)
    • Scheduling/Access (Who, how, hours of access, restrictions, contacts)
    • Timeline (Desired turnaround time, weekly delivery targets, overall program benchmarks and expectations)
    • Budgets and Pricing Expectations
  3. Assemble Program Team (tentative)
    • As-Built Surveyors (location, quantity, capabilities)
    • Project Management
    • Drafter and Quality Assurance support staff
    • Administrative and Customer Service support staff
  4. Create Program Proposal Package.  Not just a price, but a preliminary Program Fulfillment Plan which addresses:
    • Scope of Work/Deliverables clearly defined
    • Scheduling Practices/Assumptions
    • Timeline including Pilot Phase and full rollout ramp-up capabilities
    • Price (typically a flat per/location fee)


Cover Page of a PPM Proposal / Program Fulfillment Plan

This amount of planning, before we even have a signed contract, is a significant commitment.  But we believe it’s absolutely necessary to ensure the excellent results that PPM is known for, and that our clients deserve.  The work on the front-end will ultimately save you much more time and stress later down the road (in fact we have picked up several As-Built programs midway through completion – likely due to our competition NOT taking the time to complete these steps).  It’s all a part of our Purpose as a company to help create “Worry Free Renovations”!

Next week, I’ll delve into one of the first things we do after we have a contract for a Multi Site Survey program – “Pilot” surveys.

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It’s All About “Multi Site”! Nationwide As-Built Survey Programs

Multi-Site As-Built Programs

Last week we started a new As-Built site survey program for McDonald’s (which you may have seen on PPM’s Facebook or LinkedIn pages).  We surveyed 6 locations in Oklahoma City, and we are just finishing up these “pilot” As-Built drawings for our client.  7 years ago if you would have told me that PPM would be measuring McDonald’s in Oklahoma, I would have told you to cut back on the glue-sniffing.  This expansion of our business obviously didn’t happen overnight, and this new survey program got me thinking about everything that has happened went before this step, and all that we have learned over the years about “Multi Site” survey programs such as this.

It started in 2009.  Up to that point, since our founding in 2002, we had worked exclusively on “Single Site” projects, meaning a single location (such as a house or commercial building) for an architect client.  But just as that market was really drying up with the recession, we were approached by a new potential client that needed to get As-Builts for a bunch of Long’s Drugstores (remember them?).  Long’s had just been acquired by CVS, and our client was managing the “rebranding” of those stores.  So over the next 4 months, we ended up measuring about 60 locations in San Diego and the Bay Area. It was a great survey program for us at a very opportune time, but we also realized quickly that it was not scalable or even sustainable – Colin and I did every single one ourselves on weekends, nights, and whatever time we had in between our other “regular” projects.

But that program showed us the opportunity that existed for nationwide As-Built surveying. So since then, we have hired more people and developed a network of 50-100 professional As-Built surveyors distributed throughout the U.S, so that we can offer our services in every major metro area of the U.S. without needing to travel.  But more importantly, we have fine-tuned the processes – such as project management, quality assurance, administration, etc… – that enable us to deliver a consistently high quality As-Built product and first-rate service to nationwide retail clients.

Here are a few of the common questions we hear about Multi Site Programs, and some things we have learned in our experiences:

Q:  What is a Multi Site As-Built Survey Program?

We define “Multi Site” as anything with multiple locations with the same client, type of space, scope of work, and deliverable output.  They can be regional or nationwide. Even within this we further define 2 varieties:

  • Traditional Multi Site – (A large batch of locations with regular scheduling, weekly delivery targets, etc.)
  • Recurring Single Multi Site – (one location released at a time, as needed by client)

Q:  Who are the Clients?

We are typically measuring stores for national or regional brands. The most common clients are retail, restaurant, and banking. Our client can be the corporate brand itself, a 3rd party design/construction firm, or even a further level down the chain (such as a fixture manufacturer/installer).

Q:  Why are they needed?

Most common uses for an As-Built site survey would be some kind of remodel project such as a store rebrand/redesign (the entire store or just a portion). Often this is due to a merger/acquisition with another company (such as the Long’s / CVS program) or a brand new store opening. Other uses include custom fixture installation and facilities management.

Q: What is the typical scope of work /output

That is the beauty of these programs, it is completely customizable to what the client needs for their specific project. Typically we are asked for As-Built Floor Plan, RCP, basic MEP info, and other info such as photos or custom site survey info. Sometimes the client already has their Scope of Work and As-Built plan standards figured out, but often they don’t so we work with them to help dial it in. Then we can produce it exactly that same way for every location nationwide.

Q:  What are the main challenges?

  • Project Management – This is completely different from what is required on a single location survey. Our client is literally coordinating hundreds or even thousands of remodels based on our survey output and workflow, so our scheduling, communication, tracking, and administration need to be proactive and 100% reliable.
  • Workflow Processes – When you are surveying 1 location you can rely on your skill and experience alone to produce a great product. You can improvise when needed.  This is not the case with Multi Site programs.  All processes need to be documented, repeatable, and scalable.  It is the only way you can produce consistent output every time, no matter who does the work.
  • Team/Workforce – You need to have the right surveyors in the right places. But just as important, you need a balanced and effective internal team of Project Management, Drafting, QA, Customer Service, and Administrative staff to coordinate and execute all aspects of the program.
  • Clients – We love our clients – but often they don’t even know what they want or need! But this is not their fault, they just haven’t ever seen it done the right way before.  Working with clients can be a challenge, but it is incredibly rewarding to help them transform the way they run their redesign programs.

Q:  What are the main advantages?

  • Focus/Specialty – When you get a chance to survey hundreds of similar locations for the same client, it really gives you a chance to innovate and orchestrate your processes for maximum efficiency.
  • Fewer Clients – Working with a smaller number of clients you can give more attention to each one. It allows you to be more attentive and obtain a much deeper understanding of your client’s needs.
  • Scalability – Since Multi Site survey programs involve so many locations, you get a lot more volume for each new program. This allows the business to scale much quicker than you do by signing up one location at a time.

It has not been an easy road to enter this market, and we have made mistakes to be sure.  We have learned through trial and error over the course of 20+ nationwide As-Built survey programs, and 5,000+ individual locations surveyed.  But through hard work, a willingness to learn, and unwavering commitment to satisfying our clients, Multi Site projects are now 2/3 of our business.  Over the next few articles we will go into the details of starting and running a large As-Built Survey program that upholds our purpose as a company – “Worry Free Renovations”.

Do you have a Multi Site survey program to discuss?