What will we discuss?
We prefer to discuss the business / concept idea first as this is the most important aspect of the project. Once we have talked this through we will be in a good position to discuss the site. For instance, say you are opening a restaurant and you need to have 50 covers to make the business model work. We can discuss this and see how much space there is when examining ideas for the site. The design brief may have raised some questions or concerns, which we will raise at this point.
We can then look at how your idea will work within the site you are pursuing, or what you need to look out for when you start your search. Retail spaces are fairly simple in terms of services and means of escape. But restaurants can be a lot more demanding when it comes to drainage, power supply and other essential services. If you are going to have air-conditioning it is important to find a building with the space and permission to put condensers on the exterior.
Following the meeting
Next we will put together a quotation. This outlines what we will produce for the concept and technical drawings stages. Usually, this is a list of the drawings we are going to produce, along with a time allowance next to each drawing. Our quotation includes time provision for revisions and developments of the design.
What happens before our first meeting
Usually, before our first meeting we will have received some kind of design brief. This helps us understand what you are trying to achieve. Having a meeting on site, or using plans from a site, means we can scrutinise the suitability of any given space.
Where can we meet?
Meeting on site allows us assess what is there, get a feel for the space and look out for any hazards. Clients normally have an idea about where they want things and why. Being on site gives us an opportunity to talk through those ideas, and see if you are open to other possibilities. Sites that are between operators tend to be a little dusty, so it is often better to discuss the details elsewhere.
If you have an idea but don’t yet have a site confirmed we can meet at our office in Lewes. As well as having access to computer software and the internet, we also have samples and a reference library. Lewes has a good selection of restaurants and coffee shops in case we need to decamp for some research.
At a coffee shop / restaurant in the right area
We can also meet at a prospective competitor’s venue, or in the area in which you want to be. This will give us a better idea of what you need to achieve in order to compete and succeed. This approach works well with the non-site specific concept, where we start with the function and optimum layout of the space before looking for a site.This is really the way you would introduce the project. Your ‘elevator pitch’. For example you might say, ‘I would like to open the first restaurant in Brighton selling seagull andwiches.’ You might also discuss the size of the venue and whether you want to use a wood-fired oven, or turn the birds on a spit. The main point is that you communicate what makes what you are doing unique. Work out your USP, and then tell us what it is.