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3 Steps to a Successful Store Opening!

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

Retail store openings can be one of the most stressful times in a leader's career. Your organization is counting on you to not only open successfully, but on a specific timeline, usually asking to be under the budgeted cost, and most importantly it is always the “most important” project for the company.

This post will provide you with the steps you need to successfully open your next retail location and help you understand why following a set of steps is important. Following these steps will not only help you open successfully but will also be your roadmap for any of your future retail business locations.

Why is it important to follow a set of steps and actions when you are planning to open a new retail location?

  • The obvious answer is YOUR OPENING WON’T BE SUCCESSFUL!

  • Your retail “Flagship” store just became another business in a crowded space.

  • And your leadership and skill set could come into question.

I understand what it takes to successfully open a retail store. The steps I write about are my real-life experiences and I hope they give you some tools to improve your retail store opening success. It can be the greatest feeling when you open the doors, or it can be the moment you go hide in your office and wonder what happened! I am writing this blog to give you some steps to ensure your hard work pays off and your new retail space is a success on day 1!

Over the last 25 years I have opened, relocated, remodeled and yes closed over 100 retail stores within a variety of consumer brands for several exclusive travel retail partners and a handful of Fortune 500 Companies in the US.


  • If we don’t talk about anything else, you need to understand how important planning the opening is and the idea that it is not too early to start your planning process and organize all the pieces that will contribute to your store opening success.

  • In a store opening you do not control everything! I know you want to think that but there are many areas of an opening you rely on others including the General Contractors and their subcontractors, government agencies in which you will need permits and approvals, suppliers who may or may not uphold their end of the opening in terms of product offerings and delivery times, and the list goes on!

  • Start by gathering every member of your retail leadership team that will play a role in the opening and plan meetings to discuss the project at intervals that make sense to keep everyone on the same page and keep your retail store opening on target. Don’t give anyone a pass on your meetings. They need to understand the importance of their role and be held accountable for it.

  • Over the last 25 years with more than 100 retail store openings I have said to myself while sitting in a meeting or on a call why are we having this? And then it appears! Someone or something did not happen as we had PLANNED it. But because we were all on the same page, we all knew our roles and responsibilities, and held each other accountable in these meetings we were able to pick it up and keep going without major disruptions to the goal of having a successfully completed project.


  • If you don’t have a store opening checklist or you don’t think they are important to keep your store opening and your team on track, go back to step #1 and start over!

  • Your store opening checklist should include tabs for every department within your organization that will be involved in the success of your store opening. Examples include your IT Department, Treasury Department, Loss Prevention Department, HR Department and so on. Each department tab should include everything that falls under their department, who is responsible for it, the date in which it needs to be completed by, and what if anything is needed to accomplish the task. As your calls or meetings progress the items are marked off or reviewed for completeness.

  • Your store opening checklist should always start from the planned opening date and work backwards. Leaving yourself extra time built in for anything that does not happen on time or does not go according to plan. For example, in a Duty Free Retail Store your store opening could be delayed or pushed due to customs inspections, building permits held up, suppliers unable to meet deadlines and you need to figure out plan B, or your GC decides to take a vacation for a week. The list of possible interruptions is endless. Your store opening checklist should account for everything possible if it is reviewed accordingly there should be “no stone left unturned”.


  • This project is the most important thing for your organization right now. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you want a successful store opening that you can show off to the world when you open the doors it will take the entire team. You alone cannot do it by yourself!

  • In step 1 we talked about how important the planning process is and the importance of getting everyone involved that will play a role in the success of your business.

  • In step 2 we talked about how important it is to have checklists and timelines and why these should include the entire team.

  • And as a part of your planning process, you may see the need for someone outside of your organization with a specific skill set. (Yes, this is where I shamelessly sell myself). But in seriousness don’t be afraid to get outside help from someone that understands all the nuances of a successful retail store opening.

Successfully opening a new retail store in any environment can be a huge challenge for any organization. The 3 steps I outlined above of course do not cover every aspect of it. Every new store will have its own set of challenges that you will encounter. But if you plan accordingly, create a checklist and timeline that includes built in speed bumps and everyone involved works together as a team you have put yourself in a position to succeed.

If you would like help in your next retail store opening or have any questions at all about how we can help you, please feel free to contact us!

Thank you for taking the time to read through our article and we hope to see your new store opening soon!

Chris Berthelson

Founder Wise Precision Business Consulting


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