Minimizing Disruption During Store Renovations, The MDC Group

Retail brick-and-mortar stores must occasionally be renovated and refreshed to stay competitive and relevant. That’s always been true but has become more so in recent years. According to a 2021 Forbes article, with “so much having shifted online …stores have to be different and unique to attract customers.” Many retailers also need store layout changes to update technology and increase online sales fulfillment. For example, they may need self-checkout areas, in-store pick-up facilities, and more shipping or storage space.

The changes are ultimately meant to boost sales, so minimizing the disruptions renovations inevitably cause for customers and employees is important. Customers who walk into a noisy and congested space may just go elsewhere. They certainly won’t feel great about spending a lot of time shopping during heavy disruptions. Builders must do all they can to keep a business operating smoothly and help customers feel comfortable, welcome, and safe during store renovations.

Communication and Publicity

Customers will see the changes in a positive light if publicity and communications are handled well. Communicating about the improvements and how customers and employees will benefit helps build excitement and put a positive spin on any inconvenience the work will pose. Press releases and media events are two avenues a retailer can take. Information should include what the changes are, how they will enhance the buying experience, and how long the transformation will take. By gaining some advanced publicity for exciting store layout changes or additions, retailers generate excitement and anticipation for customers.

To further that buzz, stores, architects, and construction companies can include architectural drawings, virtual design images, and final concept pictures in press releases and post them at the site or on the website. Local media may run stories with graphics to provide free publicity. With good publicity and communication, customers and employees worry less about the process and are more optimistic about the new look.

Doing Noisy or Disruptive Work After Hours

No one wants to shop while jackhammering, drilling, or even hammering is happening. Smelling paint or adhesives can also be annoying while in a store. To prevent customers and employees from experiencing these annoyances, construction companies should do as much work as possible when a store’s closed or traffic is very light. If weekday traffic doesn’t usually start until lunchtime, construction companies can accomplish a lot from early morning until noon. When stores close for the evening, work can begin again. While these early and late shifts might not be ideal for construction personnel, companies like The MDC Group, specializing in retail work, understand they must do what they can to minimize disruption.

Barricades and Debris Management

Customers and employees should feel completely comfortable and welcome in the space while construction or renovations take place. Construction companies can help by setting up adequate barriers and barricades during business hours and removing building materials, tools, or debris from public areas. There are many choices in barriers, including temporary full walls. Every after-hour or early morning shift should end with a complete cleanup of public areas.

Construction Phasing and Sequencing

The terms construction phasing and sequencing have multiple meanings. Originally construction sequencing was employed for environmental reasons and to minimize earth erosion. The original purpose was to reduce the amount of on-site erosion and off-site sedimentation. The concept has become so vital that there’s an annual international conference where academics, scientists, and construction executives study and discuss new information and ideas.

Construction phasing or sequencing are now also used to describe a step-by-step approach to building projects chosen to minimize business disruption. The system completes a project in steps rather than linearly. The entire renovation is broken down into mini projects, each completed before another can begin. The process takes careful preplanning and coordination, can cost a bit more to accomplish, and takes longer, but it has the advantage of disrupting business very little. Employees can continue functioning normally, and customers don’t hesitate to shop while changes occur. Everyone also appreciates seeing the changes happen in a controlled manner.

Managing Client Expectations

Another element of success for any construction company is how well it manages client expectations. This management is all about clear and honest communication. Often clients have unreasonable expectations about a project due to their need to understand what steps are necessary to complete a renovation.

A LinkedIn article about managing client expectations lists five steps:

  1. Start Early
  2. Be Transparent About Fees
  3. Keep Communications Open
  4. Share Deadlines
  5. Let Customers Know What’s Coming

A construction company that presents an honest plan, budget, and timetable starts on the right footing. They must continually meet deadlines or communicate about unforeseen circumstances and new completion dates. Clients appreciate companies that share freely about any unanticipated budget changes needed. Conversely, when companies overpromise, and under-deliver everyone becomes frustrated.

While most construction companies try to manage expectations and mitigate disruptions, The MDC Group established a special projects division specifically to address the various disruption challenges that occur during building projects. The division’s main goal is to never negatively affect their customers’ customers during a renovation.

Towards that end, they work when stores are closed, including night work. They also install temporary walls or barricades and keep public areas clean and debris-free to keep shoppers and employees safe. They use preplanning and project phasing or sequencing to keep disruption to a minimum and prevent their retail customer from losing business. The MDC Group tries to always communicate clearly and manage their customers’ expectations to deliver a positive experience for the client and their shoppers.


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