So where do you sit? Is it on a silky soft calf leather dining chair or is it a budget designer imitation piece where you take the weight off? Or, just perhaps, did you not even take notice the chair you are sat in? 
In the ever more public world of social media the environment we are in is just as important as what we do in it. So, for restaurants, having to focus as much on the material of their table tops as on their menu, how do they strike the right balance of quality and cost when it comes to their interiors? 
 
The most successful procurement strategies stretch far beyond rates and delve into the realms of working collaboratively across all property disciplines. But, that process invariably begins with design. Design, however, doesn't have to blow the budget. It is still possible to achieve the best value while deploying visually stunning designs which are consistent with your brand. As always, it is a balancing act, so what has Procure4 learned through our experience working collaboratively with clients across Casual Dining and Retail? 
 
Danny Reddock, Procure4’s Property Academy Leader, has not only helped many high street casual dining establishments refine their procurement but has also dined in his fair share of exclusive eateries. Here Danny proffers his advice on where to invest and where establishments can cut back, without compromising on design impact. 

 The Age of Instagram 

In the Instagram age, some of the most successful casual dining and retail brands embrace design and visual merchandising as a wider-reaching strategy, not just to engage existing customers but also to captivate new, potential customers across social media. No longer is designing just impactful for the customer in the restaurant, but the new customer, flicking through Instagram. 
 
“One of our recent clients said to me "It's all about texture", I couldn't agree more. People take pictures of their food, no longer is having a visually stunning plate of delicious food enough. Tabletops are one area not to skimp, rustic woods, marbles, granite all create a visually stunning picture, surfaces shouldn't be too glossy or polished.” Said Danny. 
 

 Make it Unique 

There is a current trend for unique design and inconsistency, which makes procurement difficult as there are no fixed requirements. We can combat this through “design optionality” or “modularisation” and commercial deals, if the client agrees to stick within a set of parameters. For example, each site has a different table, because they want each site to be unique. It’s easy to work with them to select 10 sets of table bases and 10 materials for the top at 10 different sizes. So, they have 1000 options, all of which have agreed costs or a deal in place. 
 

 Touch Points 

Textured design or finishes at a high level don’t really deliver. As customers can’t touch, feel or most of the time look up at them, money in this area is futile. Brickslips, cladding or other cost heavy options can be substituted while keeping the customer interaction zones aligned to the intent. 

 Key Features 

Feature flooring, brass, copper etc. can be used sparingly in some areas and alternatives sourced in others. These finishes don’t have to be applied throughout to have the desired impact. Yes, you can line your restaurant ceiling with copper, but, when sat at their table, will the diners really know the difference if a substitute is used at half the price? 
 

 Behind the Finish 

Look beyond the visual in terms of how it’s made, how it’s fixed, what’s behind it. You can achieve the same finish or intent, but make it more efficient, easier to install, thinner. 
 
With procurement, we don’t just look at the materials you use but how they are used to better effect. Value Engineering goes beyond cost in the traditional sense, if we can save time, that also saves money. 
 
So, as you sit back and enjoy that last sip of coffee, take a look around, does it matter whether its real Italian marble that holds up the bar or does it simply matter that it looks great and creates the kind of environment you want to return to again and again (and let your friends know you frequent on Instagram). 
 
Tagged as: Industry News
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