Expansion update!


Recently Andrew met the owner of a Canadian 85-store retail business who told Andrew to pass this along to me: opening stores gets much, much easier after the 10th store.

This is good news and bad news.

The good news is that apparently opening stores gets much, much easier after the 10th store.

The bad news is I have stores 4 through 10 still to go.

However, I have to say- this time around, I feel like I have a clue. There was something about opening three stores in rapid succession and then waiting for 5 years to open another one that boosted my confidence.

A few things I am dong differently:

  • I’m  more confident in walking away from possible locations that aren’t perfect and have a good rent and buildout cost.  I took a negotiating type course in the fall and one simple but valuable lesson was: there just isn’t always a deal to be made. It’s a great attitude to have going in to any negotiation.
  • I know the importance of an estimating process with more than one general contractor.  It pains me to write this but for the  first three locations, I simply awarded the work to the same contractor without asking other companies to make a bid.
  • I hired a project manager who can draft tender-ready plans, handle the estimate process, and be the liaison between me and the general contractor. Construction language is technical and it’s great to have someone knowledgeable in the field working directly for PGB.
  • We are using a work-back project management tool so that each of us (head baker, catering and customer service head, general manager, website designer and me) know what we are to do and when. The task of listing down every little thing was tedious but now every Monday we each get an email from Jenna, the assistant catering manager, telling us our diarized weekly tasks for the new store. I find this takes away that nagging feeling that “maybe I should be doing something”.

One of my items  on the work-back schedule is to write a biweekly blog post on the buildout, and since I will be reminded to do this every second Monday, I know it will get done!




About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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