Open11 Jul 2011
We've been open in Rade for over a week, and the good news is that sales are pretty much what we expected and that most stuff works. However it's been a hectic two weeks, full of major and minor disasters.
Construction chaos: Standard construction time is 12 weeks, and 10 weeks would be extremely fast. We were built in 9 weeks, and actually less than that considering the holidays in May and June. Coordination among sub-contractors is always difficult, and was complicated by the accelerated schedule. Everyone seemed to be constantly waiting on somebody else.
Telecommunications: The biggest disaster, and still not solved. The line was applied for in April, but it took over 8 weeks for our telephone and DSL providers (one is magenta, the other is red) to figure out 1) exactly where our site was located, 2) that we'd have a different area code than our postal address, and 3) DSL would not be available at the site until May 2012. It's perhaps a sad fact of modern times, but we can't sell hamburgers without a working data connection... specifically, to program and maintain our POS system. The situation is complicated by the fact that magenta and red don't talk directly to one another and always blame each other for whatever problems occur. The current status is that we'll get super-slow 300 Kbit DSL this week, in the meantime they cobbled a connection first with UMTS (3G cellular) and then over the landline.
POS System: As a result of the telecom woes, we didn't have a base POS system in place until 10 hours before opening with no time to test. The shaky data connection meant our help desk couldn't log in to us to fix the inevitable problems. The system crashed hard on close the first two nights. Our McCafé registers weren't properly connected to the system, and our Day 1 sales data for McCafé are gone. The operating system for the POS is brand new and pretty much undocumented. Our knowledge of the previous system is useless for the new system, so we were dependent on the help desk for setting things up for our requirements. Good thing for us the Easy Order kiosks did not arrive in time, that would have been just an added complication. Things pretty much work now, and we expect the kiosks by the end of the month.
Freezer: On Wednesday evening, Day 6 after opening, the refrigeration technician finished the final adjustments to our walk-in freezer and declared the installation for complete. The next morning the temperature inside was +5°C. Our entire frozen stock worth over 14000 had to be destroyed. Our logistics partner brought us a freezer truck to store our new stock so we could get back in business right away. The original installers were never able to get the freezer up and running. On Saturday a new firm was brought in, and the found and fixed the problem within minutes. The installer had literally gotten the wires crossed. The freezer has been at a stable -22°C for 48 hours, and we'll move our stock back inside today. Legally, the unit is under guarantee, and our costs will be covered by the general contractor.
All in all, the disasters were all things outside our responsibility and control. Everything that we did and hired ourselves, our people, the lobby and patio design, the landscaping, the PR and local marketing, that has all been nearly perfect.