The fitting out of your new-build, refurbished or extended warehouse is a multi-faceted and potentially lengthy project that many companies will not have the expertise and means to undertake themselves.
Warehouse Fit-Out Project
Most companies in this position will seek out a partner company with the skills and experience to fulfil their warehouse fit-out requirements by putting the project out to tender.
The project’s scope, timeframe and costs are of utmost importance to your ongoing and future operations and costs. With these considerations in mind, it makes sound business sense to spend time choosing the right partner for your warehouse fitting.
As well as working with you to understand your warehouse’s specific, documented requirements, there are several other factors to be considered when choosing to work with a prospective partner.
For your convenience, here are 7 key questions that you should ask when sourcing a partner for your warehouse fit-out project.
1. What are your core skills?
Fitting out a brand new, refurbished, or extended warehouse is a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional project that requires knowledge, skills and experience in a variety of areas.
A warehouse fit-out company should have a wealth of previous success in delivering total fit-out projects that encompass the key areas of space utilisation, racking design, installation and deployment, project planning, inclusion of utility services and employee areas, and warehouse commissioning abilities.
Your chosen provider should also be able to show evidence of a creative approach to solving specific warehouse issues. For example, if you’re refitting your existing warehouse to gain more storage space, they may be able to suggest solutions that will maximise your available space by installing a mezzanine floor or refining your operations flow throughout your warehouse.
2. Can you provide evidence of your experience?
A warehouse solutions specialist seeking your business should be able to prove their past success in fitting out warehouses. Some simple questions to ask to test their track record could include:
- How long have you been trading?
- Are you able to carry out all aspects of the warehouse work?
- How accurate have your costs proven to be?
- Will your work meet Health and Safety and Building Regulations standards?
- Do you have testimonials and case studies of your work available?
Asking these simple questions helps to build up an initial impression of your prospective partner’s ability and experience.
A reputable warehouse solutions company will not only answer your questions fully but encourage you to view their record and previous projects they’ve worked on. They should make available evidence of completed projects in the form of a website or hard copies of case studies and testimonials.
Once you are satisfied with their credentials, find out more about their methodology. Do they use trusted sub-contractors? Are they flexible and reliable?
And the most important point – do they meet the time and cost budgets agreed at the outset of the project?
3. Are the costs I see the costs I will pay?
Establishing costs at the outset of the project is vitally important. In the interests of keeping within your budget and ensuring that your financial projections are accurate, ensure that your prospective partner is clear and open with their costings.
Part of ensuring a tight costing is the agreement of a fully scoped brief, which again, your potential warehouse solutions provider should be more than happy to assist you in developing.
By developing a proper brief and scope, your intended provider should be able to deliver ‘all-inclusive’ and clearly documented costs.
Beware: some companies may document items necessary to the project as ‘optional’ and then add them on as an additional bill when the final cost is calculated.
The contract for the work should be precisely detailed and leave you assured that there will be no unexpected expenses added to the final sum.
4. Who will be responsible for project management?
Strong project management is the key to successful project completion, so find out whether your intended warehouse fit-out company intends to provide you with a formal project manager (PM).
You should also know ahead of time how often you can expect to see or meet with your PM.
It’s not always vital for a PM to be on-site, but he/she will need to visit regularly to review and monitor progress. If they are not going to be based on-site, can the prospective warehouse fit-out partner company provide an ongoing day-to-day contact? See below.
5. Who will be my day-to-day point of contact?
When working with a partner company on a multi-faceted warehouse fit-out project, it is important that you establish a point of contact.
This point of contact may well be the designated Project Manager, but if not, they should still be well-informed and knowledgeable. They should also be able to liaise on matters pertaining to your project with the PM should this be necessary.
The worst-run projects often have poorly defined lines of communication. Establishing that your intended warehouse solution provider can supply you with an easily reachable day-to-day contact who is able to answer or investigate your questions and queries is a vital step is setting up a fruitful working partnership together.
6. Do you guarantee to deliver on time and budget?
As with all projects involving multiple suppliers, deadlines and significant cost, overruns can be expensive and disrupt your ongoing operations.
As is common on many sectors, your warehouse solution provider may use sub-contractors and 3rd party suppliers to complete certain aspects of the work involved in the complete project.
You will need to have penalty clauses in place for cost and time overruns – though bear in mind that this can only work as long as you do not ask for ‘extras’ along the way which could impact on delivery and push your project off track.
7. What support will you provide after project-completion?
With a multi-dimensional project, such as a warehouse fit-out, there is usually a period of time for the completed work to bed in and settle. Post-completion, it is common for there to be snagging issues once the project is signed-off and your working operations are being carried out using the new fittings.
A reputable warehouse solutions provider will be happy to assure you that, for a set period of time, they will return to site and investigate any issues that may arise post-completion.
Accordingly, they will then correct any such issues relating to aspects of the project which they were responsible for. This is another clause that can be included in the contract with your fit-out partner.
Acorn Warehouse Solutions – Suite 8, Newmarket Business Centre, 341 Exning Road, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 0AT