Wolgast Blog

SBA 504 Provides Easy Financing for Small Business Growth in Michigan

Posted by Cory Sursely on Fri, Jul 23, 2021 @ 08:00 AM

ExpansionIt’s not unusual that I encounter potential clients who are expanding and need new space to accommodate their growth, but aren’t able to expend their capital for the down payment on a typical bank loan.

You may not know that for years, small businesses in Michigan have had the SBA 504 program available to them to help make improvements to their business.  Now, with the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) otherwise known as the Stimulus Package, this program has become the prime lending program for small business expansion in Michigan.  Below, I feature some of the details of the program (source:  Michigan Certified Development Corporation). 

SBA 504 programs are primarily designed to as­sist healthy, expanding businesses that have been in operation for more than 2 years.  Eligibility re­quirements include:
• A tangible net worth of less than $15 million *updated since original blog publish date
• Average net profit, after tax, of less than $5 million for the past 2 years *updated since blog publish date
 
504 programs can be used for the following pur­poses:
• Purchase of land, building, machinery and equipment
• Land improvements
• Renovation or addition to an existing building*
• Construction of a new building
• Leasehold improvements*
*Note – Renovations and Leasehold improvements may be weighted differently and may carry a lower priority. 

Small business advantages:
• Lower down payment: Borrow up to 90% of your financing needs, saving your money for working capital
• Longer repayment terms: Real estate can be fi­nanced for 20 year term
• Low, fixed interest rates for the life of the SBA loan 

The program has been embraced by commercial lenders across the State due to the following ad­vantages:
• Lower risk with a 50% LTV (Loan-to-Value)
• Lender gets first lien position
• 504 loans are eligible for CRA credit
• Streamlined SBA paperwork to complete with approx. two week approval
• 504 loans effectively extend lender limits to serve larger clients
• Ready secondary market for lender’s first mort­gage loan
 

In summary, this program will allow eligible businesses to buy, build, or remodel* commercial and industrial buildings with minimal investment, and yet enjoy the benefits of a fixed, below market interest rate and a 20 year term, with as little as 10% down.

Wolgast Corporation has been a leading provider of commercial construction services throughout the State of Michigan.  We have many resources to help assist you while planning your construction or remodel projects.

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Tags: Professional General Contractor, Financing Construction, Good for Business

How to Design an Office for Patient Centered Medical Home

Posted by Cory Anderson on Tue, Jul 13, 2021 @ 10:34 AM

GFPSince the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is more of a management model or philosophy, you may not have considered the building design changes that may be necessary to make the conversion.  Below we discuss some of the elements that your PCMH office design should consider.

2021 Updates

We first wrote this blog prior to Covid-19 and the growth of telemedicine and have a few new remodel suggestions for post pandemic medical offices.  While, digital healthcare may remain an option, which could reduce the number of patients coming to your physical location, space in your waiting area as people continue to distance from each other may need a new layout/design.  Also a designated space to conduct your telemedicine calls, especially when bringing in specialists, as part of your PCMH operation, could be helpful for your practice to effectively provide services.

Storage Space

Electronic Medical Records are a key tenet of the PCMH model, however as practices transition into PCMH offices, one could expect to increase file storage requirements due to the added patient education and follow up.  Additionally, you’ll be accumulating the documentation from each visit your patient has with a specialist or key staff member inside or outside your office and therefore your space requirements will need to be addressed in physical space or specially designed spaces, such as climate controlled areas that accommodate computer servers and databases.

Meeting Space

Collaboration is another key of the PCMH model.  Practice doctors and staff members will be having meetings among themselves about their cases as well as consultation meetings with specialists, group meetings held for patients with similar conditions, and patient education sessions.  All of these types of meetings will require private and comfortable space to allow for most optimal conditions for patients, and for easy patient access.

Privacy Measures

With additional files and open areas for communication comes more responsibility for patient privacy and HIPAA compliance.  The design of your building will need to account for the privacy of verbal communication and protection of patient files.

Spare Exam/Treatment Rooms

We have recently completed the construction of a large PCMH office which included in its design additional exam and treatment rooms for visiting specialty doctors, so they can come to the patient rather than having the patient travel to the doctor.  This is a clear benefit to serving your patients with the PCMH model.

Dr. Michael Shepard, M.D., Ph.D., Wolgast Corporation’s medical office development specialist, along with Rick Keith, Wolgast Design Group’s architect experienced in designing for PCMH, can provide insight in the designing of an office remodel or a new building.  Contact Dr. Shepard at 800-965-4278 to discuss the design and construction of your next building.

 

 

Medical Services

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way, Design

You Have Construction Service Options

Posted by Cory Anderson on Tue, Jul 06, 2021 @ 02:36 PM

constructionWhich construction delivery system is best for your project?

There are several unique and distinctive methods for providing construction solutions. As a business owner you have the luxury of selecting the most beneficial and appropriate delivery system for your type of project.

Design/Build

The Owner hires one firm to provide architectural design and construction services in a phased approach.  The design/builder becomes the single-source that is responsible for designing the building, estimating the budget, hiring the subcontractors and coordinating the schedule to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.

It’s the design/builder’s sole responsibility to complete the project to the client’s satisfaction.  The architect and contractor are the same entity, which eliminates misunderstandings as they collaborate throughout the design process.  The design/builder becomes the owner’s advocate securing multiple bids for each trade and leading them through site planning, permitting, design, value engineering and construction.  The phased approach provides economical/budget information early for the owner to decide if the project is a go or no-go.

Design/build is suitable for busy owners who don't have the time to oversee construction.  It’s also a fast-track method or a fast construction process for projects with a tight schedule.

Construction Management

A construction manager’s (CM) role as part of the project team is to provide estimating and constructability review during design, and cost, time and quality control during construction.  The client establishes their team of architect, CM and owner’s representative at the onset of the building concept.  The architect is responsible for defining the building through drawings and specifications while the CM regulates and monitors the schedule, budget, materials and performance of the subcontractors.  The owner thoroughly informed by these professionals, can then make educated decisions about his or her project.

The owner must be willing to be involved in the process because by using the CM method each trade contract is signed with the owner.  The CM method is most suitable for those who construction is a recurring activity and/or their project is very large, like schools and retail chains.

General Construction

Considered the design/bid/build method, the owner typically already has plans which were prepared by an outside architect/engineer when they seek a general contractor.  They choose their general contractor by one of three methods, 1) negotiating with one or more contractors of their choice, 2) selecting a group of contractors to bid and then accepting the lowest bid, 3) advertising for a broad variety of bids and accepting the lowest.

For clients who have a simple construction project, general construction is likely the appropriate construction solution.  It’s also the right choice when it’s necessary to bid and then build a project based upon completed plans and specifications.  However, this method leaves little room for correction of design or programmatic errors, if any exist.

Leaseback

The contractor finances, builds and leases a new facility back to a qualified owner, allowing him or her to focus on his or her business.  This is the best option for businesses that are faced with the need to expand their floor-space while at the same time minimize the risk involved with tying up capital in construction costs.

Business owners who qualify and currently have all their working capital in their business without a budget for building their new space are candidates for leaseback.  By choosing leaseback, they can move their business to a prime location and get the space tailored to their design needs.  The owner has the option to purchase at a future date when the business warrants the investment.

Still not sure which one works best for you? Call us to discuss your options.  At Wolgast Corporation, all systems are in place to provide the most appropriate delivery method. 

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Restaurant Construction, Leaseback, Dental Office Construction, Manufacturing Construction

Commercial Building Exterior Remodel Strategy

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Jun 17, 2021 @ 02:00 PM

ExteriorWhether a business is a restaurant, office, manufacturing plant, or school, having a building exterior remodel strategy can make a project very efficient and beneficial for a building owner. A plan should include incorporating low maintenance materials, safety elements, easy accessibility, and curb appeal to serve a business well into the future, as well as cut costs, and attract new customers.

Low maintenance material choices, such as fiber cement siding, EIFS, brick, Fullerton Panels or poured concrete, are durable, don’t require painting, or much up-keep in the future. By incorporating a number of these materials, an owner can reduce their maintenance budget and the inconvenience to staff or customers that maintenance crews can create. Additionally, changing to LED lighting and using a combination of uplighting and downlighting can showcase a building and make it more noticeable after hours and be less costly to operate. Even windows and doors are made to be much more efficient over the last decade or more, so depending on when an owner's windows or doors were installed, replacing them could save an owner a lot on energy costs. Choosing hearty perennial plants that can survive many different elements is a great option to keep costs down and elevate curb appeal. Heated sidewalks and heated air at entrances, may not be the most efficient cost wise, but can eliminate bugs entering your building, slips and falls, and less maintenance to keep up with snow removal and wet carpets.

If a business wants to gain more traffic at their building location and/or be inviting and accessible to all types of customers is helpful. Being ADA compliant with your parking lot and entrance is beneficial to gaining new customers if you haven’t had these elements before. Automatic doors, way finding signage, handicap parking near ramps and the building, are all barrier free changes to enhance your building. With changes presented by the pandemic, some businesses could benefit from implementing or enhancing their curbside pickup, too.

It is always good to strategize safety considerations that can help protect staff and clientele. Replacing tall shrubs near an entrance will prevent attackers from hiding and surprising unaware people entering or exiting a building. Installing cameras and again having ample LED lighting can deter attackers from hanging around a building to do unsavory things. And, finally, I’ll include that when guardrails or bollards are strategically placed around a building, as indicated by an architect, it will prevent cars from hazardously entering or hitting your building while protecting the people and materials inside.

Wolgast Corporation is an Employee-Owned Construction Group in Michigan that specializes in commercial construction. We can help you create a strategy and design that will improve your building exterior to be more efficient, long lasting, and attractive. Please contact Michael Shepard to discuss design, strategy, and construction options at 800-WOLGAST or mshepard@wolgast.com

Tags: Energy Savings, Design, Good for Business, Remodel

How to Prepare Your Commercial Building for a Solar Program

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, May 04, 2021 @ 01:21 PM

solar-panel-1Michigan’s solar energy industry is experiencing some confusion right now. For example, under the new federal administration, the outlook for clean energy is a spotlight industry for growth and sustainability, but there are no current solar incentives for commercial buildings or residential structures from the State of Michigan. Additionally, on their Federal Income Tax, businesses can currently claim 26% of the cost of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system if installed during 2020 – 2022. This incentive will reduce to 22% in 2023, and 10% in 2024 and thereafter1. On a positive note, the cost of solar products is down 45%2 and expected to continue going down, and so is the price for lithium batteries for personal storage to be used on cloudy days or during a power outage.

While fossil fuels are considerably less costly, they are expected to keep increasing in cost and are a variable expense for users. Specifically, in Michigan, Consumers Energy has won a Public Service Commission hearing3 to increase their fees as they plan to make infrastructure improvements and clear trees to help minimize power outages. Therefore, solar energy would help manage energy costs and keep them consistent for planning, with a complete payoff as a long term investment. Furthermore, the outlook is that the number of solar energy units nationally are going to increase by 3 times as many over the next decade4.

I’m not really trying to steer you in either direction, however if solar energy is something you’ve been interested in adding to your business, I’ve provided some information below that I researched about what is needed from a building standpoint to make it happen.

It's good to know that the up-front cost of engineering, purchasing, and installing solar panels for commercial building owners can be six figures, but certain solar materials can be depreciated over five years, and the with the cost of solar systems going down each year, it is now expected to be paid off in approximately 8 -12 years.6

According to Duro-Last Roofing’s website7, our reputable, local colleague and roofing specialists, “Rooftops are an excellent place to install solar systems because they are typically unused and unobstructed spaces.” Many commercial buildings have a lot of real estate on their rooftops that is suitable for enough solar panels to significantly reduce energy costs. Alternatively, if a business has adequate property surrounding their building, they have the option of selecting their grounds for the panels.

Even though we are a commercial building expert, we have not had experience with installing solar photovoltaics and advise that you work with a reputable solar engineer when designing your system. However, we want to share with you general requirements of your rooftop and structure to have panels installed by a professional installer. Firstly, most solar systems have a 25-30 year warranty, so it’s critical that your roof is in a condition to also last the same duration. Rooftop repairs will be difficult to make under the panels. The weight per panel, as stated by Judith Shadzi in her article, Commercial Solar Panel Types, Tips, and Pros/Cons of Investing in Solar, is “generally 3 lbs per square foot…a ballasted system will add 4 to 6 lbs <per unit>. If the building was built after 1970, it should support these loads. However, if concerns arise, a structural engineer will review the property.”5 Shadzi’s article, provides a plethora of information discussing system types, cautions, financing options, and more.

Shadzi’s article also instructs that a project starts with a site audit by a solar company to ultimately “recommend a location, orientation, slope of the system, size and energy production”. Then solar engineers design a system plan, which must undergo a state or municipality’s permitting process. Once permits are secured, the solar company can install the panels, which on a rooftop is done by drilling holes “into the rafters in alignment with the solar panel mounts. Thin pieces of metal are then placed over the mounts, preventing water leakage. The panels are attached to the rails and connected together…and to the inverter.” A final inspection is required, then a request is made to connect to your utilities and a monitoring plan is implemented to monitor performance and savings.

The Shadzi article is listed below as a reference and was a considerable resource to developing this article.

1Guide to the Federal Investment Tax Credit for Commercial Solar Photovoltaics, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

2 Michigan Solar, SEIA

3 Crain’s Detroit Business, Michigan Regulators OK $100 Million Rate Hike for Consumers Energy, https://www.crainsdetroit.com/energy/michigan-regulators-ok-100-million-rate-hike-consumers-energy  12/17/20

4 Solar Industry Data, Solar Industry Growing at Record Pace, SEIA

5 Let’s Go Solar, Commercial Solar Panel Types, Tips, and Pros/Cons of Investing in Solar, Judith Shadzi, https://www.letsgosolar.com/solar-panels/commercial-solar-panels/

6 Duro-Last Roofing, Solar Ready Roofing Systems, https://duro-last.com/solar_ready

7 Michigan Solar Solutions, Frequently Asked Questions about Going Solar in Michigan, https://www.michigansolarsolutions.com/education/faqs

Tags: Energy Savings

Will a Non-Qualified Bond Work Better for My School District?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Apr 26, 2021 @ 07:55 AM

BoardMemberTableMichigan School Board of Education (BOE) members have lots of decisions to make in regard to Bond Programs for school improvements. One of them being how to sell the Bonds.

Whether they choose Qualified, Non-Qualified, or a Sinking Fund, each have specific advantages depending on what the School District is trying to accomplish. Those School Districts that have a good credit rating (i.e. solid financial record, good enrollment numbers or out-of-formula, healthy taxable property values) benefit from having more freedom to make a choice of their funding source including the Non-Qualified Bonding option. This option comes with its own benefits, including, the opportunity to skip the State Treasury process and the additional paperwork and required application that is involved.

With good credit, the District doesn’t have to rely on the State to co-sign for the bond and provides some more flexibility in the expenditure of funds. Also, they aren’t bound to the time it takes to provide the paperwork and be ready far in advance for the Treasury dates before their chosen election date. The qualified application process takes a minimum of six to twelve months vs. the non-qualified timeline, which can be processed in the three to four months if the scope of work is readily defined. Schools will still need time to carry-out their campaign activities to build support to pass the bond, but it frees up some time to do this at their own pace and choose which of the three election periods they’d prefer to choose, either May, August or November. When considering the preliminary design and estimating activities to pull a program together, this can be a large benefit. Additionally, through a Non-Qualified Bond Program, School Districts have the opportunity to shop for their own lender (either competitive or negotiated sale) and get a better interest rate, so they can do more with the monies their bond program generates.

How does a School District develop a Non-Qualified Bond Program? The Superintendent and building committee will still work with their Architect, Construction Manager, Financial Advisor, and Legal Counsel to establish their program, prioritize projects, determine a cost for improvements and create the bond language. The Board of Education will be able to shop for the best interest rate and financing for the Bond. The BOE will also set the duration of the bond and the tax rate to repay the loan.

Whether you choose Qualified, Non-Qualified, or Sinking Fund financing, Wolgast will assist you with free pre-bond services and bond campaign development to help bring the project to fruition. We will help you analyze the choices to develop the best strategic plan to meet your facility needs to benefit your students. Developing a solid, long-term master plan yields solid results. If you're a Michigan School District that has questions about your financing options, please call us at 800-WOLGAST.

 

Tags: Schools, Financing Construction

How Technology Updates Change Schools

Posted by Cory Sursely on Fri, Mar 26, 2021 @ 10:00 AM

SecureEntry.jpgSchool Districts are facing pressure to incorporate technology into their curriculum to compete with other institutions who have already adopted 21st Century and New Tech programs. However, miles of wiring, hardware, software, white boards, wireless projectors and hand held devices aren’t the only technological concerns of modern schools.

Building efficiency, automation and security also play a role in technological updates. With the additional cost of keeping up with continual software updates and hardware maintenance, saving money through energy efficiency and Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing (M/E/P) monitoring can help off-set these expenses. Through building automation, all of your systems can communicate with each other and through computer monitoring you can scrutinize that your HVAC systems run more efficiently and manage energy usage to reduce costs. Also, installing LED lighting will save money and improve the student’s learning environment. Ensuring that all of these systems work together and don't have to be retroactively forced to communicate takes planning and design prior to installation.  Far too many times this is an afterthought that costs more money, but if done correctly it can save money on the project.  Furthermore, when your systems work together through building automation, they become more efficient, building occupants’ comfort can be better controlled and maintenance services moderated. Additionally, your maintenance staff will be notified immediately of system issues, so that incidences can be managed before they become a costly problem.

Probably a top priority for all schools has become their building security to make their campus safe and secure for teachers and students. We recently worked with a school to improve their security measures. Like most, they wanted, “full, unfettered control of the door” without making it feel like a prison for students. School Districts more commonly face issues with custody cases or split families and even angry boyfriends who enter the building to get in contact or even remove a student. These are the more common situations that Districts have faced in the past and are trying to control.

Most of the security updates that we incorporate include a secure entry area through double doors or office passageway, but it also needs timed door locks, cameras, and intercom systems. All these updates require hard wiring and the ability to communicate with the centralized monitoring system (same as your HVAC system).

Schools can incorporate modern technology changes that will save them money, improve the indoor environment, and provide reliable control of who is in their building by teaming with an Architect and Construction Manager (CM) who are experienced with pre-planning your systems so they work together and who have a better than average school bond passage success rate, like CM, Wolgast Corporation. Call us to discuss your building goals at 800-WOLGAST.

 

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Tags: Professional General Contractor, Schools, Construction Management

What Are Design/Build Services?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Feb 24, 2021 @ 07:58 AM

DesignBuildBlogDesign/Build Construction is a project delivery method in which a building owner forges a single contract with an architectural/engineering design services and construction services. Known as the Design/Builder, the entity becomes the single-source that is responsible for designing, hiring subcontractors, coordinating the schedule and building the structure on the client’s behalf. Wolgast offers a phased approach to identifying a client’s building needs, budget, building specifications, final design, construction and warranty.

Phases Described

In Phase I – Preliminary Design, our architect meets with you to conduct a Needs Analysis and then crafts a preliminary building design to suit your needs, layout, and specifications. At this time, he or she also does regulatory checks to make sure you can build what you want on your site. Following this, your estimator will coordinate with trade contractors to set a budgetary number that you can take to your financial institution for approval. The benefit of getting this early pricing is knowing if it fits within your budget and if so, you can start the financing process sooner than traditional construction.

Moving to Phase II – Detailed Design, the architect takes the preliminary information from Phase I to create final construction-ready design documents including engineering plans for your review. The process includes several review opportunities between the client and Architect. Also, as the plans develop, the Estimator is acquiring bid coverage with trade contractors. He or she is reaching out to our vast resources of trade professionals to obtain competitive bids. This way, we will have all the lowest, qualified prices in our budget, a huge benefit of this delivery process. As the client signs off on the design (or portions of the design) and the budget, which should be expected due to Phase I pricing, the project will transfer from Design to Construction. During this transfer, a construction schedule, permits, material ordering, and sub contracts are secured and site work or demo that is approved can start. This is why Design/Build is referred to the Fast-Track to Construction another benefit to this delivery method (see our White Paper on Fast-Track to Construction).

During Phase III – Construction, your Project Manager and Project Supervisor will mobilize equipment and monitor onsite activity. The Project Supervisor will be onsite 100% of the time. He checks to make sure that appropriate materials are used and applied with accuracy and quality, safety precautions are being followed, and that the project is staying on schedule. The Project Manager monitors the progress and budget and is the liaison between client, architect, and the site.

In Phase IV – Warranty, once construction is complete, your Design/Build Construction Department will be available for another year to help with any warranty issues that could arise as you try out your new building.

In Conclusion, when it comes to Design/Build, our actions are curated to be the best performing delivery system for both cost and schedule. Over the past 70 years, Wolgast has been a highly progressive and comprehensive construction provider all throughout Michigan. Adding Wolgast as your Design/Builder and Construction Department will allow you to focus on your business – what you do best, while we focus on building - what we do best!

 

White Paper - Fast Track Construction

 

Construction of New Tech High Schools

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Feb 17, 2021 @ 01:00 PM

Meridian-Schools_newtech.jpgThe New Tech Network is designed to target disinterested students, while still reaching those who are already college bound. And it is working because their report, "2020 Impact Report", shows that New Tech High School students are 10% more likely to go onto college compared to the national average.  And added 14 new schools to their network in 2020.

The New Tech Curriculum is fairly new as it only started in the mid 90’s, but it already has proven results.  On their website, www.newtechnetwork.org, they state, “NTN schools consistently outperform national comparison groups on measures of higher order thinking skills, high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates”.  Each student is provided with a computer and the necessary tools to complete “project-based learning” as a group.  In this type of environment, students learn open collaboration and problem solving skills.  The program goal is “to enable students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow”.  For 2020, they have had to adapt quickly and create meaningful distance-learning for students.

At the time of publishing this blog, fourteen schools in Michigan have incorporated the New Tech curriculum.  Wolgast has gained experience with constructing New Tech High Schools over the past few years.  We have provided Construction Management services for remodeling Meridian New Tech High School in Sanford, Michigan.  They became one of the earliest schools in Michigan to adopt the New Tech High School curriculum for their freshman class in 2010. Then in 2016, they hired Wolgast again to complete the necessary renovations to the existing high school to allow for the extensive wiring, networking and group spaces required for the technically focused program. The curriculum stayed with those that started it as freshmen in 2010 and then extended to all following classes.  Since 2010, we have also completed more renovations to make room for the addition of students and their space and technological needs, including updates to science labs and media centers.  Meridian is focused on getting their students "Career Ready. College Bound" according to their website. They have also converted their Junior High and Elementary schools into the New Tech Network.

The difference with remodeling or constructing a New Tech school stems from each space needing to be adaptable for multiple group work stations for a variety of situations.  A higher level of coordination is the key for the Construction Manager to oversee a smooth project and account for the necessary flexibility plus technical and data accommodations.

If you’re considering adopting this curriculum for your school, you should contact the New Tech Network; however, if you need a Construction Manager to complete the renovation to your school, call Wolgast Corporation who can apply their best practices to your project.

 

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Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

How Can Restaurant Brands Drive Business Thru Their Parking Lots?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Feb 16, 2021 @ 11:58 AM

side-by-side-drive-thru2Covid-19 has impacted many industries, but the restaurant industry could arguably have had the biggest impact to their operations. Especially in Michigan, with dine-in shut down longer than any other state. Most of those restaurants near our office with drive-thrus were backed up to the road before, during and following peak times. Should national restaurant brands of quick serve (QSR), fast casual, and casual dining restaurants be planning for a future with less dining-in and more business taking place in their parking lots due to societal shifts and the convenience of third-party delivery? Some brands are ramping up with multiple drive-thru windows to filter through customers even more quickly. If they don’t have space for a drive-thru or a drive-up/pick-up window, they have set up their parking lot for pick-up service or a walk up area inside the door.

According to NRN Magazine in their article, “COVID Is Forcing Restaurants to Rethink, Modernize Drive-Thru Lanes” from 10/5/20, “For decades, drive-thru lanes have been the main driver of sales at fast-food chains, generating anywhere from 60% - 70% of sales.” They were speaking specifically about QSR, but there could be value in investing in renovated or added pick-up service for many fast causal or casual dining service types.

Double or triple-drive thrus are good for filtering a lot of customers through for those restaurants that have the room and technology to organize distribution this way. Some QSRs are even considering if they need as big of dining room going forward, thinking it may be more effective to take that space to add an additional drive-thru. However, if operations aren’t set up for taking orders through a speaker, as most Casual Dining restaurants aren’t, a drive-up window for picking up orders (no on-site ordering) may be a lucrative addition and safer for servers so they aren’t trying to match a car with an order while diners without a parking spot circle the drive during busy peak times. Otherwise, labeling parking spots for pick-up distribution will set up a restaurant even when dining rooms can open back up. We don’t know how the pandemic will effect dining once it’s considered over or how much third-party delivery will continue to grow.

What is involved with creating your own drive-up or drive-thru window? We would have to consider the site, the space available, and municipal regulations to create a design and then construct. Chiptole’s CFO stated in “Chains Find Drive-Thrus Worthy Investment” article on restaurantbusinessonline.com that it costs $70,000 to invest in their drive-thrus, but they generate 10-15% higher volume at each location. For them the expense is worth the investment.

Working with a general contractor, like Wolgast, that is experienced with prep and installation of single or double-drive thrus, will help you to quickly get set-up with very little, to no, down time. Wolgast is the Premiere Restaurant Contractor in Michigan having worked with numerous national brand corporations and franchisees. There is a learning curve for a contractor who hasn’t worked with drive-thrus before. Our Director of Restaurants, Eric Schwartzly, said, “operationally, it takes some time to understand the flow through the traffic lane and picking up the food”, but we can help you figure it out. Additionally, we can help with site selection for future locations or designing added drive-thru operations to meet municipal regulations and corporate’s guidelines.

Your Turn: Restaurant Operators, between delivery service popularity and a shift toward convenience for families, could parking lots and pick up windows become as important as dining rooms? What kind of questions do you have regarding enhancing your restaurant’s parking lot delivery?

Tags: Restaurant Construction