Business Premises Fitout – Critical Mistakes to Avoid

  • 15 February, 2019
  • Sharon Piening

In my days before finance, I worked for a major retail corporate and responsible for the display of merchandise throughout their new retail outlets across Victoria, it opened my eyes to the complexity involved with business premises fitout. To the many factors that need to be considered to ensure a great customer experience.

This combined with my 20 plus years providing business clients with Fitout Finance, has given me insights to  common mistakes that if avoided, can make the whole process easier:

Business Premises Fitout Nightmare – Failure to plan!

Like most things in business, if you want a successful outcome you need to plan ahead.

When considering Business Premises Fitout, it is important to take the time to think about:

  • The store or premises layout. What is the foot traffic flow? Will this work from a business and customer perspective? How can it be optimised? Will the layout work both today and in the future? Taking your time to work through this, can help avoid a lot of frustration and expensive mistakes!
  • What finishes you will use? What ambience do you want to create? Will it appeal to your customers? It is aligned to your brand? Are the finishes durable and practical? Whilst hard surfaces may look great, if they make conversation difficult, other options may need to be considered
  • How long will the work take, can it be done after hours? What access arrangements need to be put in place?

Not setting a budget

One key mistake to avoid when planning a business premises fitout relates to affordability. At the outset it is important to set a budget:

  • What can the business afford?
  • What return on investment will you require to justify the outlay?

Your outlay may change once quotes are received, however if you don’t set some parameters at the outset, it is easy to get caught up in the process and spend beyond your means!

Forgetting to check your lease with the Landlord

If you operate from rented premises, it is important to check with the Landlord to ensure the fitout will comply with the terms of the lease.

It may require periods of notice to be given, access arrangements to be made, type of finishes, structural elements etc.

It is too late to do this once the premises fitout has commenced.

Focusing on price and not quality!

In business you get what you pay for!

Generally with premises fitout, if you overly focus on price, the supplier will need to compromise quality.

You may end up with a Fitout that is compromised from the outset. One that:

  • Needs to be replaced or updated within a short period of time
  • Presents the business in a poor light (first impressions count)
  • Detracts from the customer experience

Clearly, you need to be financially prudent, but not to the detriment of your business.

Doing it yourself to save money!

Given the capital outlay involved with business premises fitout, it can be tempting to try and do it yourself, to save money.

However, unless you have expertise across many disciplines (carpentry, electrical, finishes, foot traffic flow, coordinating trades etc) then Fitouts are something best left to the professionals.

They will not only have the expertise, but also better buying power.

Three key questions to ask are:

  • Do you have the expertise to manage all aspects of the fitout?
  • Do you have the time? to manage all aspects of the fitout
  • Could you better use the time elsewhere in the business?

Not undertaking research and seeking detailed quotes!

If you (wisely) decide to outsource the Premises Fitout then it is important to:

  • Use providers who have experience in your field.
  • Ask to see examples of their previous work
  • Speak to former clients. Ask about their experience with the supplier. Was the fitout completed to specification? On time and to budget?
  • Seek detailed written quotes that encompass all aspects of the fitout, price, finishes, timelines, payment terms etc.

Paying for the Fitout from cashflow

At times it can be tempting to pay for the premises fitout from your cashflow.

However before doing this, it is wise to prepare some Financial Projections to ensure that it will not leave you short of funds to cover ongoing operations and growth!

If you do run short of cash, it can be extremely difficult to then try and recoup the funds via refinancing.

It is far better to arrange financing at the outset.

Not using a Fitout Finance specialist

Business premises Fitout Finance requires specialist expertise.

It is a complex process. If the provider doesn’t have experience in the field, it can be a costly and exceptionally time consuming.

Choosing the right Finance Product (Chattel Mortgage, Lease, or Rental) for example is critical as it has ownership and tax implications.

Then there is the question of allocation of hard cost and soft cost components which vary depending on the Finance provider.

Using a specialist Finance Broker can help you tap into highly competitive rates and save an enormous amount of time, cost and frustration!


Despite its complexity, I love helping my clients successfully navigate the minefield of Fitout Finance.

The process requires attention to detail and a high level organisational skills.

Whilst it involves a lot of work, the joy is seeing a fitout move from concept through to successful completion.

If you would like to learn more about the Fitout Finance process and how I may be able to assist, don’t hesitate to give a call on 0433 210 353