Opportunities abound

With malls and shopping centres mushrooming all over the country, there are more opportunities for shopfitters than there were before.

With malls and shopping centres mushrooming all over the country, there are more opportunities for shopfitters than there were before.

In each and every shopping centre that is built, the shops that move in need shop fitters to make their shops look beautiful.

Besides new shops in new centres, some shops close down and make space for other businesses. This new business might want to change the look of the shop completely. Here too a shopfitter will be needed.

But it is not only shops and retail businesses that need the skills of shopfitters. New corporate companies and those moving to new premises will need the service too. Business and office parks are other clients to consider.

Therefore, if you have interior and decorating skills, it is time to start thinking about converting your skills into a business opportunity.

The good thing about shop-fitting is the number of niches to choose from when starting up.

Your market specifications range from flooring or carpeting, to counters, to wall designs and individual work spaces. The installation of equipment needed for everyday work may also become part of the bargain.

Starting a shop-fitting business entails extensive background on various businesses and what a particular business may need in a limited space. It is important to take the business owner's personal preferences into consideration.

In this business you have to get used to taking orders and instructions from customers.

Specialising can also be lucrative and many shop-fitting businesses have prospered greatly after they decided to specialise in a particular field, for example, restaurants only or hostels only or hairdressers only.

If you do decide to specialise, make sure that you make connections with other shopfitters that specialise in those jobs that you do not do.

By doing this you won't turn business away in case someone comes along for a job that you do not do. You must be able to outsource a job or refer a client to your network, and be paid a commission for it.

But before starting a shop-fitting business, decide whether you will be able to accommodate various businesses or only one field of business.

Important points to consider.

Let us take a restaurant as an example. It is important to take the dimension of the actual space into account. You will also need extensive knowledge of restaurants in order to cut it in that field.

For example, an Italian restaurant is very different from a Japanese restaurant. And similarly, a restaurant that offers party hosting and take-outs will have different needs from an upmarket restaurant.

Standards are important and must be met. The food preparation area will have to pass health standards. Consult your city or local government standards regarding kitchens and their disposal units. Public areas such as the diningroom and the store facade must also be taken into account.

A unique "theme" or concept for the restaurant may entice potential customers - but comfort, ease of use and serviceability also go a very long way.

When you are starting this business on a smaller scale, you will need to accumulate a network of suppliers from which you can get great offers without sacrificing quality.

The problem with this arrangement is that you do not have control over your suppliers, and what they can offer you in a limited amount of time.

Therefore, the best you can do is to steer your clients into a list of what you can offer, or rather, what your suppliers can offer.

Finally, once you have taken a job from a client, you must know that it is your job to make sure that things work, irrespective of the situation you might be faced with.