Effective Optical Space Planning | Part 2- Realizing Your Vision

optical space design, eyewear displays, office remodel, optical office designPart 2 | Realizing Your Vision

In Part 1 (Laying the Groundwork and Setting Pre-Design Expectations) we discussed finding your dream team, creating a budget, and developing a realistic timeline to ensure your project is set up for success. In Part 2 we will be discussing the design process, realizing your vision for the space, and next steps.

Finding YOUR space!
Picking the right space for your business is a key component of being successful! Do your research when considering certain spaces or cities. Location is key…think about finding a space where you can bring in new clients, satisfy already established clients, and grow your business (even if that isn’t in your plans- you never know where the future may take you).

We recommend contacting local organizations in the cities you are considering, like City Hall or Chamber of Commerce. Organizations like these can provide you with answers to questions you have about the city, as well as share with you current listings of locations for rent/sale. It can also be a great opportunity to establish a relationship with key contacts at the city. We had a client who followed our advice and built a relationship with the Business Development group in their city, and through the relationship was able to avoid delays when issues arose in the permitting process for an existing space they were renovating.

Realizing YOUR Vision!
Once you have selected a space the real work begins. This is when you will begin working with your DREAM TEAM! As mentioned in Part 1 it is very important to pick a team you feel confident in! It is their job to help you develop your vision for the space.

Starting the design process with brainstorming sessions and “pinning” is very important. Scrolling through images of spaces you like and don’t like will help you realize the look and feel you want to create for your business. Create boards on websites like Pinterest with all your ideas! If you don’t have Pinterest, no worries! Do a quick google search for “Optical Space Design” and see what pops up! Once you find a few spaces you like, take screenshots and show your design team! At this point in the design process no idea is a “bad idea”, the more ideas the better as it will help you narrow down exactly what it is you are looking for.

After you have thoroughly browsed for ideas, the next step is to get picky and narrow down what you want for your space- this is the time to get serious. Think about things like theft deterrence (do you need it?), the amount of storage you would like to have, how many frames you want to display, etc. Thinking about these things ahead of time will save you time and money as you narrow down the design.

Developing YOUR Space
Optometry has changed in many ways over the last few years and perhaps the most important consideration to be given when designing a layout is the list of rooms you need to establish efficient process and business flow. Ask yourself things like… “How many exam lanes do I need?”, “Do I need to make special provisions for equipment?”, “How big of a break room does my staff need?”.
[Not sure which questions to ask? Check out our Design Survey for a few ideas!] Thinking about these things before you start the layout process will help you establish a general process flow that your design team can expand on. A well thought out professional space can eliminate the need to move later if sales volumes increase beyond initial expectations.

Once you have a general space layout, think about the dispensary (“sales”) environment you want to create. Keep in mind…a clean, neat, and well-arranged space is more conducive to sales. Do not try to overwhelm the space with too many frames. We could go on and on with advice on how to display frames, but for the sake of this post we will just include links to some of our other blog posts on the subject.
Preparing Your Space for New Frames
Follow the Leader? Trends in the Industry!
The Sales Magic of Display
Answers to you FAQS
Your New Office

Your design team should meet with you to evaluate your business needs then help you decide what the most efficient flow and design for the space will be.

Drawings, Permits, and Building
After the layout has been developed and your design direction has been solidified it is time for the project to begin “on paper”. Your design team will work with you to develop drawings of the space and you will begin to see your vision become a reality. But you aren’t done just yet…next you will need to satisfy the requirements of the municipality in which you are located and the building landlord’s conditions. Requirements often include building permits, which involve an architect’s stamp and submittal to the city. Not all projects need permits. Prior to beginning your design project, it is important to check with your landlord and/or contractor to see what all is required.

Take a deep breath and don’t forget it’s about YOU!
This all can seem a bit overwhelming…rely on your dream team- they will walk you through all the necessary steps to make sure your project is a success. As a design client it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. All this hard work will pay off in the end; you are opening a business/or remodeling an existing space and that is exciting! Don’t forget in the hustle and bustle of it all, this really is about you. Your design team is there to help you, the contractor is there to build the space for you, the owner of the business is you.
– Be involved. It is important that you are very involved from the get-go. It may seem like a lot of time and energy up front, but it will pay off in the end.
– Think about your budget. Be realistic, know your budget and stick to it! The team you work with should work within your budget to get you the look you want without compromising the budget you have set. There are many ways to make designs more cost effective.
— Get non-locking rods vs. locking rods
— Utilize panel layering– instead of a laminate panel with an added acrylic panel and frame supports just do an acrylic panel with frame supports, or perhaps just a laminate panel with frame supports.
— Color selection/materials– choosing a “standard” color or a less expensive material can help with overall costs and often the change isn’t even noticeable!
– Take your time. Taking extra time up front and not rushing through the steps can save you countless dollars once you start building. (Your New Office).
– Stay organized. You don’t want to be the reason your project gets behind schedule. Make sure you set aside time to review drawings or communications from your design team and contractor. This is a very important part of the design process to ensure the team is building the exact space you want.

Check back in for Part 3 to learn about taking the plunge and preparing your space for business!

Effective Optical Space Planning | Part 1- Laying the Groundwork

Eyewear display, optical space design, optical space remodel, design and build, eyewear displays

Part 1 | Laying the Groundwork and Setting Pre-Design Expectations 

Almost every conversation we have with new design clients start with “Where do I begin?”. We totally get it… the design process can be a bit overwhelming for someone who has never done it before. That’s why we are here to help!

In this three-part blog series, we will discuss the main questions and concerns clients have when starting the design process.

Now let’s get started by laying the groundwork and setting realistic pre-design expectations, timelines, and budgets!

Picking your Dream Team

Choosing the right “team” to work with is one of the most important decisions you will face throughout the design and build process. You want to make sure you pick a team that sees your vision and helps you accomplish your goals, while still being able to have the “tough” conversations when your ideas might not be the best course of action.

Your dream team should consist of a banking institution for financing, a design and manufacturing team, and a general contractor. For more advice on picking the right team visit our Wanting to Create a New Space? blog post.

Solidifying Financing and Creating a Budget

Your banking institution will solidify your financing and help you come up with a realistic budget for your build out. Not having a proper budget is the single biggest mistake that anyone can make when starting the design process. The second biggest mistake is thinking you can do it cheaper than people that do it professionally all the time. After 40+ years of manufacturing and construction experience, we have seen there are too many variables to define for someone to effectively work to an unrealistically low budget. Banks that do practice loans are a great source of “logical” information for construction and fixture budgets. They see the original budgets that loans were granted for and then have the data for the actual payments made. (more in our Answers to your FAQs blog post).

Unfortunately, we don’t have a one size fits all budget calculator but there are some industry averages you can work off to give yourself an idea of ranges.

Overall you are looking at $140-$180/sq foot, but keep in mind you will want to allow for some extra wiggle room in budget. There are always costs that you don’t expect (i.e. permit submittal fees, printing fees, etc.). Again, these are just averages so do not base your entire budget off this. You will want to get estimates from each of the trades to get a better idea of budget.

Creating an Initial Timeline for your Project

Make sure your give yourself PLENTY of time to complete your project. Rushed projects are usually never done as cost effectively or as thoroughly as they could be. Throughout the project your timelines may change, but it is imperative that you have an initial timeline to work from.

Here is an example of an estimated timeline we give our clients. Just as with the budget discussion, these are just estimations and your specific project timeline may vary.

  • Initial Design: 3 – 6 weeks (dependent on your speed of approvals)
  • Permit drafting: 1 – 2 weeks
  • Permit approvals (depends on the city): 4 – 6 weeks
  • Production & Construction (typically done simultaneously)
    • Production of fixtures and casework: 6 – 8 weeks
    • Construction (depends on the complexity of the build out): 8 – 10 weeks
  • Shipping/Pick Up: 2 – 5 business days
  • Installation: 1 week (depending on the complexity of installation)

Overall you are looking at about 5-7 months and that doesn’t include any of the time needed for discussions with the landlord about the lease or waiting on financing from your lender. Again, it is very important that you give yourself enough time to complete your project. Taking time up front and being involved through the design process will give you comfort knowing that when construction starts, you can stay focused on what you do best- eye health and fashion! (more in our Your New Office (Part 3) blog post)

Stay tuned for part two in our three-part series on Effective Space Planning!

Shelf Magic PRESS RELEASE

A Returning Trend in Eyewear Merchandising

Redmond, WA, March 2, 2017– Ennco Display introduces two new glass shelving options to satisfy a returning trend in eyewear merchandising.  These new panel shelving systems are designed to give retailers maximum flexibility to show frames “Flat” on shelving or “Elevated” on countertop displays.  The COVE was designed to allow customers the ability to showcase their merchandise with counter displays and point of purchase materials. Ennco’s Tray Elegante, Showoff, and Angler displays are perfectly suited to maximize the number of frames shown on the deep 10” shelves the COVE series provides.  The MIRAGE was designed to create a boutique look with more shelves in a tighter array which allows for the perfect spread of horizontal minimalist frame presentation. The MIRAGE series focuses more attention on a single frame by providing a shallower profile of glass and less visible hardware.

MIRAGECOVE

Jan Ennis, President of Ennco Display, notes “Store fixturing is much like clothing styles…the methods change about every seven years. Frames held by wires, pegs, rods, panels and glass shelves have all been part of the changing style of display. Shelving is back in vogue as more point of purchase and counter displays have been made available to the industry”.

The COVE and MIRAGE shelf packages can be found on Ennco’s website and purchased directly from their new dynamic online ordering site www.ennco.com.

About Ennco Display Systems

Ennco Display Systems is a store fixture and office design company specializing in retail optical environments.  The Company’s products and services are designed to aid both individual optical practitioners as well as non-optical retailers of eyewear in creating the most effective visual presentations.  The Company’s offerings include both architectural and product design as well as the fixture and casework solutions needed to optimize customer interest and balance practical concerns.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact

Ennco at (425)883-1650

6975 176th AVE NE, Suite 350

Redmond, Wa 98052

OUR UNIQUE VALUE ADD TO THE FABRICATION PROCESS

Taking your new office or remodel from concept to reality has a few very important steps.

#1). Figuring out your exact needs for the space (i.e. how your customers move about the space, your preference for location and size of exam rooms, and even how large you want the break room to be!).

#2). The design process, to decide on the look, feel, and function of your office. Not sure how to make that decision? Lucky for you we have an easy how to guide for reference! Click here for How to Start the Design Process.

#3). Last but not least, the main attraction of this post… THE FABRICATION AND BUILD OUT STAGE!

Not to toot our own horn, but there are a number of elements that truly set Ennco apart from our peers including but not limited to our years of experience in the industry, our use of the most advance technology, and finally our quality and attention to detail.

Industry Specific Experience

Would you hire a plumber to build you a house? NO…so why would you hire a local casework builder to create your optical space?

Every city in the country has at least one local builder and in many cases they are very good at what they do.  What they do, however, isn’t designing and building successful Optometry and Ophthalmology spaces. Your typical casework builder does a mix of local projects from kitchens in private homes to commercial cabinets in schools or government buildings. However, in optical spaces there are a very unique set of needs associated with the build and design. Our high level of experience in the industry allows us to make your space work like a dream!  We’ve heard many accounts of someone using the local cabinet/millwork provider only to discover there are horrible flaws in the logic used to build the space (i.e. work surfaces too high, frames displayed too low, low end materials used in an  industrial grade setting etc…).  What works in a kitchen will not carry over to a smooth running and profitable optical dispensary.  So we pride ourselves on the ability and know-how specific to the optical industry…no “faking it till you make it here”.

Most Advanced Technology

Nearly every machine in our fabrication shop is CNC (computer) controlled, meaning we can fabricate exactly what was drawn during the design process… cool huh?!? This ability allows us to really step outside the box and create truly custom displays that couldn’t be built by just anyone. Our computer rich environment means that we have fewer fabricators in our shop than many of our competitors.  Our small team is able to see each and every project from “cradle to grave” and we take a huge amount of pride in the quality of the finished product.  In a huge, labor rich factory any given employee may only see a tiny part of the puzzle but never actually see the finished product, at Ennco that’s just not our style!

High Quality and Unprecedented Attention to Detail

Remember the really cool CNC machines we talked about earlier? Yea…well the REALLY cool thing is they allow us to build casework and displays with an amazing amount of accuracy! We’ve removed the chance for human error in nearly every step of the building process which allows the fabricators to keep an extra close eye on the quality of the finished product and avoid costly mistakes. All of our casework is built above the standards for AWI cabinetry. We use thicker and stronger materials than most shops so the pieces you buy will last until you want to change them out rather than need to. It’s not uncommon to hear of spaces we’ve built that have been unchanged for 20 years. We also dowel and screw all of our casework and don’t use staples or nails on anything we build. This is a much more difficult way to build things but the quality of the finished product is second to none.

We hope you enjoyed this quick glimpse into the Ennco shop! Check back later for more posts like this and much more.

YOUR NEW OFFICE (PART 3)

Click Here for Part 1, and Here for Part 2.

“The architect… did not consult with the doctor on budget expectations or share industry average construction costs prior to starting the design.”

Who’s the decider?
A major issue that designers (mostly independent) struggle with is the notion of not invented here. By this, I am referring to ideas that you’ll have about how you want the space to look or flow. Many designers feel that they are the professionals and WHATEVER they say is what should be done.

I understand where they’re coming from. It’s tempting to insist upon applying all my years of experience to any given design but that experience has afforded me a process that incorporates your needs and ideas and ultimately leads to better design.

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The reality is that your ideas are critical to the design process and whomever you choose should welcome your input. I tend to take a devil’s advocate approach with clients. Every idea should be both valid and challenged.

If you are working with someone that can take your project from start to finish, it is more likely that you will see more of your ideas come to fruition, since a big picture view means they’ll be able to see the advantages and logic behind your ideas.

Some changes are likely but the possibility of incorporating some of your own ideas and desires becomes much simpler as we carefully consider your space, clientele, type of business and other needs.

And the runner up is…
If the major lesson of getting started in your new practice is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION, then the second lesson of designing the space is TIME, TIME, TIME.

You should take your TIME in the overall design process, as the end result will greatly impact your productive space. Taking time up front in design can save you COUNTLESS dollars once you start building.

Getting your store fixtures (in the big scheme) is a very small part of the design process and can take place quickly if you are using “stock fixtures”. Custom fixtures means lots of design and build time. A good design firm can help you decide where your time will be best spent.

Once upon a time…
A client asked us to review plans that had been drafted by a high priced architectural firm that had never done an optical space. Upon first glance, the lab was in the back (not near the dispensing area for quick access), the professional space took up almost the entire store and left very little space for reception and selling.

With close to 50% of practice revenue coming from eyewear sales, having 15% of the space to accommodate that work is not logical. The architect, being used to doing high end projects, did not consult with the doctor on budget expectations or share industry average construction costs prior to starting the design.

It only took moments looking at the finish schedule to see that the lighting was going to take nearly 60% of the total budget the client had shared with me for the whole project. The reception desk had a rather tight radius and was to be covered in large marble tiles (just because it can be drawn does not mean it can be built). Since tiles don’t bend, this was going to be both a challenge and not likely yield acceptable results.

To make matters worse, the project was started before the client had dialed down all the final details.

Sometimes less is…umm…less
The client started changing the fixtures, locations of fixtures, colors and finishes to save costs after the project started. In this case, the contractor was quite happy to accommodate because each change order was accompanied by a $250 charge PLUS return or cancellation fees on the originally specified materials PLUS the markup on the new materials. As you can imagine, this did not really reduce the price of the project. Instead, it created a space that cost a lot with downgraded materials.

Happy client experiences
We iron out details prior to construction start or even seeking formal bids. Getting a bid from a floor plan without a finish schedule and reflected ceiling plan with specifications for the space is set up for a very frustrating guessing game that could impact your business for years to come.

Allowing too many variables is not the way to start your new business. When all the details are dialed down, your estimates of cost will be more accurate and the suppliers can check stock on the finishes to make sure lead times are not affected by back orders, discontinued colors, etc.

Careful pre-planning minimizes change-orders to issues related only to site conditions… things beyond the control of you and subcontractors. I strive for maximum change orders of 5% of the original bid/estimates from the general contractor.

The best professional design takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks. The pace of completion is dictated by planning. On-the-fly decisions slow the process. During the entire process, you’ll have financing and other details to juggle, along with your regular work.

Taking time up front and being involved through the design process will give you comfort knowing that when construction starts, you can stay focused on what you do best….eye health and fashion.

This is part three of a series. Part one is here. Part two is here.

Thinking about moving or opening a new office? Give us a call. We’d love to answer any questions you may have. 800.833.6626