Monday, March 16, 2009

Almost... there...

A lot of you have asked when our opening day will be; rather than reply one at a time, I thought I would post an entry instead to give you the inside story.

The short answer: it's looking more and more like early April, and we are working really hard to get it as early as possible.

The longer answer: we still have a few things left to do before we can open the doors. They fall into a couple of categories.

First is finishing construction, especially completing the grease trap installation. Grease traps are usually tricky items because they are very expensive, subject to many town regulations (for good reason, obviously), bulky and difficult to handle, and can require ripping up the parking lot. Once this is done, and the final touches are put on the place, we can get our "certificate of occupancy", or CO, from the town, which basically is their seal of approval on our buildout. We have done everything we can to position ourselves well here, but there's no such thing as a sure thing. Even once we have the CO, we have to put on the finishing touches like hanging the signs and building the chairs and tables. Yes, we have to put those together ourselves.

Second is hiring and training the staff. We are currently hiring for all spots, or rather, our management team of General Manager Rich Lanza, and two AM's, Doug Oelbaum and Matt Eidelman, are working on that. We have received at least 50 applications over the web and even more in the store. But we need to hire a lot of people and even in this economy, that takes time. Training is a multi-step process that involves the managers visiting Five Guys' training program at headquarters in Lorton, VA, and then completing at least 2 weeks working in a nearby store. This part is basically done.

Then once the staff is hired, Five Guys send corporate trainers to train the newly-hired staff, and help run the store once it opens. This part is left to do. Five Guys takes this part very seriously as they not only want to help us be successful, but really want to protect their brand. Because they don't do any advertising, word-of-mouth on the brand is crucial so they take no chances here.

Finally, there are a few systems left to install as well, most notably the "Point-of-Sale" system, or POS. The POS is the brains of the operation and can't be installed until the CO is done. Once it's installed, we have to enter all of the employees and further customize it, which also takes time. We also are putting in a camera security system which will enable us to watch the store via the Internet.

So that's the deal. When we have an official date, we'll let people know, but for now, we're still on target to hit sometime in early April.

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