Why Project Management Matters When Designing Your Gas Station, C-Store Or Restaurant
Whether you’re building a gas station, convenience store, car wash or quick service restaurant, the design and engineering process is incredibly complex. So how do you ensure the project design and approvals are completed in a timely and accountable manner – delivered on budget, as planned? And how do you facilitate clear communications between the owner, the franchise/ brand, the design team, the construction team, the developer the public and the municipality?
Fortunately, this is where a professional project manager (PM) is invaluable, and why it is crucial to choose an engineering, design and architectural firm that emphasizes best practices in project management.
First, what is a project manager?
A project manager is a professional who is trained to serve as a project lead. Assigned by the design firm, they are responsible for seeing that the project is completed on time, on budget and to the satisfaction of stakeholders. Project managers must initiate, devise and execute on the project plan – from start to finish.
In addition to being an exceptional administrator and confident communicator, project managers must have an in-depth understanding of the technical aspects involved in the job: from engineering to construction.
8 reasons why project management matters
1. It establishes a solid plan and framework to guide the process.
Behind every successful project is a solid plan. The project manager will look at all the steps and requirements involved to complete the project. It begins by working with you and your franchise/brand agent to develop a clear understanding of your design standard and branding elements. It also involves a clear understanding of any special considerations that may impact the project (such as local architectural controls).
From here, the project manager will develop a detailed budget outlining costs for all design services required, as well as any associated costs (from feasibility studies, to municipal tie-in fees, to permitting costs). They will also set a realistic timeline to guide everything from deliverables to client approvals to permitting approvals.
2. Project management ensures the entire design team is on the same page.
Developing a design package for your facilities and property requires an interdisciplinary team. The blueprints must cover all electrical and mechanical design requirements (power, lighting, ventilation, heating, plumbing), civil engineering requirements (grading, traffic access, utility hookups, stormwater systems, etc.), structural engineering (foundation, signage), and architectural and design services.
A project manager is a conduit, making sure all team members are working together and that all of their work aligns… and that nothing is overlooked. Having a single project manager is vital, whether you are working with an integrated design firm (with all services in-house) or with individual service providers.
3. It keeps the project on time and on budget.
It is one thing to create a budget and timeline. It is another to stick to it. This is where an experienced project manager is worth their weight in gold. They will stay on top of all team members to make sure everyone is delivering as required, when required. They will also provide regular status updates so you know where your project is at.
4. It provides clear communications between all stakeholders.
The project manager will establish clear lines of communication and assign responsibilities and sign-offs as required. They will communicate with you, in clear, easy to understand terms. Where required, they will consult with your franchise/brand partners if there are any questions or concerns around the design standard.
Equally important, project managers work closely with the municipality and their permitting department to understand all requirements in advance.
5. Strong project management ensures accountability.
The buck stops with your project manager. They are responsible for delivering as promised and keeping you informed throughout the process. If there are any concerns or discrepancies, they are your single point of contact – and will manage any third-party disputes on your behalf.
6. PMs are skilled at managing change.
Unexpected surprises can crop up on any construction design project. From updates to building code to zoning appeals.
When unexpected circumstances arise, and have the potential to impact the approved budget or timeline, a PM will ensure you are immediately informed. They will recommend the best course of action to minimize any financial or scheduling impacts.
7. Project managers make sure the job is done right.
Let’s face it: most owner/operators aren’t engineers or construction experts. Project managers are. They act on your behalf to ensure all work is done to the highest quality standards. They will see to it that no detail is missed, so that your building fully complies with all building code, zoning and permitting requirements.
At the end of the day, their goal is to make sure your building and infrastructure is efficient and well-designed – contributing to an amazing customer experience once you’re open for business!
8. It removes stress from you an independent owner or franchise.
Project management is all about bringing order, organization and control to your project. Knowing your build is being guided by best practices in project management gives you confidence and assurance at all stages of the process, and will help you sleep better at night.