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?