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Checklist for Opening a New

Restaurant, Retail, or Medical Clinic

Whether you are in the restaurant, retail, or medical sector, opening a new location requires many tasks. Although the amount of tasks is most staggering to first-timers, the demands of developing a new location are challenging to even the most seasoned veterans in the restaurant, retail, and medical world.

Below is a checklist of the many responsibilities that owner’s take on when opening a new location.

  • Securing Financing     

  • Finding the right space       

  • Planning the space           

  • Testing fits

  • Finalizing the preliminary budgets

  • Signing the lease

  • Hiring the Construction manager

  • Hiring an architect

  • Hiring engineers

  • Hiring an interior designer

  • Hiring a general contractor

  • Obtaining a building permit

  • Managing the construction

  • Approving payments

  • Reviewing construction certificates

  • Relocating furniture

  • Purchasing new furniture

  • Installing Signage

  • Establishing phone service

  • Establishing Internet Service

  • Obtaining Licenses

  • Obtaining Close-Out documents

Once you get started, you’ll realize that each task above could include a checklist of it’s own and each requires different types of expertise. I expounded on some of the key items below.

Securing Financing

Projects cannot make it off the ground without financing. The first step in securing financing is to weigh your options. The following are some financing options provided by the Small Business Administration or SBA for short: SBA 7(a)SBA 504 Loan, and the SBA express loan. You can find out more about which loan will work the best for you here.

Finding the right space:

Location is key no matter the type of industry. You want to make sure that your target market matches the demographics of the population around your location. For example, if you are planning to open a restaurant geared towards business professionals, you would need to pick a site centered around office suites. Additionally, if you wanted to open an expensive retail clothing store, you would want to pick a location where the average income is high. You also need to be aware of where your competition is located, the amount of foot traffic around the area, and how easy it is to find parking, among many other factors. If you are planning to open a medical center, it may be a good idea to open a medtail clinic, a medical clinic located in a local retail outlet. With the rise of COVID-19, medical patients are demanding quick and convenient access to medical clinics. A new JLL Healthcare Markets study shows that patients value a close medical center over a new medical center. This is why starting a medical clinic inside a retail center that is easily accessible and close to residents is a good idea.

Planning the space

Planning your space is more than just knowing where the bathroom is going to be. If you are going to start a restaurant, retail, or medical office you need to strategically plan your space to optimize the flow of traffic in your space. For example, if you are opening a restaurant, especially with the latest trends, such as the increase in food delivery and pick up since 2020, you want to allow some room for a pick up area. When regulations ease up and lines start to form again, you don’t want your carry-out customer line obstructing traffic of your dine-in customers and vice versus. At the same time, you need to make sure your space is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, it needs to allow enough room for wheelchair access. If you start building the space without accounting for ADA compliancy, the entire project could come at a screeching halt

Finalizing the preliminary budgets

Having a budget is crucial. Knowing a rough cost of architectural, engineering, and construction services will help owner’s stay on budget and secure the right amount of financing. This process is not easy though. Creating a preliminary budget requires contractors to analyze the plans and determine how much the materials are going to cost for the project.

Signing the lease

This is one of the more obvious steps, because you need to be able to lease the property you want in order to start building on it. Before the signing the lease you need to make sure you know what you are actually signing. This is why you should acquire tenant representation to guide you through the lease process as well as attorneys to review the lease.

Hiring the Construction manager

Constructing a project requires an architect and a contractor. Sometimes, if there is not enough communication between the two, specific project details can fall through the cracks and get lost in translation. In order to fix this problem, hiring a construction manager will help bridge the communication gap between the architect and the contractor and will make sure the owner’s interests come into fruition.


Hiring an architect

A good architect will make sure the design of your space is both functional and aesthetically pleasing, while making sure his/her design elements do not push your project over budget during the construction process. Luckily, if you already hired a construction manager, he/she would help you cut any costs coming from expensive design plans by value engineering them. You can learn more about value engineering here.


Hiring engineers

This step includes hiring a mechanical, plumbing, electrical, structural, and civil engineer. Some contractor’s will subcontract all of these out for you, but some do not. All of these are necessary for opening a new space.


Hiring an interior designer

An interior designer will ensure that the inside of your location is welcoming and aesthetically pleasing to your target market.


Hiring a general contractor

The quality of general contractor you hire can make or break your project. You need to hire someone that that you can trust and will not upcharge you at every turn. There are many qualities that are “must haves” when choosing a general contractor. Here is an article explaining all the different questions you are going to want to ask before hiring a general contractor.

Obtaining a building permit

Simply put, you cannot start building your project without a permit. This can be a frustrating part of the process because the city government usually takes a while to approve plans.

Managing the construction

If you have already hired a construction manager, this part is mostly taken care of. Still, it is a good idea to keep track of what is happening in your project to make sure everything is getting finished as planned.


Obtaining Licenses

Different licenses are required for different businesses. If you are opening a restaurant, you need a food handlers license and if you are going to sell alcohol you need a liquor license. If your opening a medical clinic, you need a license to practice from your state medical board, etc.


Obtaining Close-Out documents

Close-Out documents are checklists in themselves. These ensure that everything that needs to be completed in a project is completed. You can read more about a construction punchlist here:


If all of these task stress you out, you are not alone. Chances are, if you are planning to open a new location, your core business demands time and focus that cannot be averted to learn how to complete all these tasks on your own. Fortunately for you, getting a new location opened IS SCGWest’s core business. SCGWest understands the time, money, planning and expertise that goes into opening a new business location. Let SCGWest take the process from conception to completion so you can focus on what you do best, running your business!

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