Avoiding Common Mistakes in Your Hospitality Fitout

You’re a hospitality owner, and you’re looking to create a commercial hospitality fitout that’s both eye-catching, has a memorable customer experience and is a functional workspace too.

To put is simply, your hospitality fit out must:

  • Look amazing
  • Function smoothly
  • Provide ample seating areas
  • Create a memorable guest experience – front of house
  • House a practical kitchen or food prep space – back of house

Many businesses make common mistakes during their hospitality fitout projects, costing them time, money, and customers. This article will discuss the most common mistakes made in hospitality fitout projects and provide tips on how you can avoid them.

Common Mistakes in Hospitality Fitout Projects

As we all know a hospitality shop fitout is a significant investment for any business owner in the hospitality industry. At Total Fitouts we often get asked:

“How do I design my floor plan to maximise the space, incorporate all my services, but allow me to create a welcoming stylish space where people want to go to eat. And yes, don’t forget I want the design to incorporate my brand, add some fun design elements, and infuse some personal style?”

Oakberry Acai Coolum, located on the Sunshine Coast Queensland, was brought to life by Mark Nashaty and the Total Fitouts Sunshine Coast North team. The owners contacted the commercial shop fitting / project management team to help them bring to life their Australian flagship commercial hospitality fitout.

Lack of Planning and Preparation

One of the most common mistakes in hospitality fitout projects is the lack of planning and preparation. A proper plan is essential before starting any fitout project. Poor planning can cause delays, cost overruns, and poor quality outcomes.

A well-executed commercial fitout requires a clear vision and understanding of the desired outcome, including the restaurant’s concept, theme, and target audience. Planning involves careful consideration of various aspects, such as space utilisation, workflow optimisation, furniture and equipment selection, interior design elements, and compliance with health and safety regulations. By thoroughly planning and creating a detailed timeline, potential challenges can be anticipated and mitigated, ensuring a smoother execution of the fitout process.

Having a clear vision of the result and a detailed plan for achieving it is important. Total Fitouts offer design-to-concept shop fitouts, so if you are unsure where to start, we can assist you in your planning and guide you in your choices of your hospitality fitout.

Masala Kitchen Dee Why, one of Lucky Rajput and Ashveen Chhabra’s re-imagined eateries, challenges the whole concept and perception of Indian restaurants. The creative pair wanted to create another exciting and intoxicating hospitality fitout with a fresh take on traditional Indian dining, don’t forget the gin twist. 

The eye-popping hospitality fitout, located in Dee Why, NSW, was creatively brought to life by Peter Zafis and the Total Fitouts Surry Hills team.

Failure to Consider Functionality and Flow

Another common mistake in hospitality fitout projects is the failure to consider functionality and flow. The design of the space must be functional and efficient to meet the needs of the business and its customers. It includes the flow of traffic, the layout of the space, and the placement of equipment and furniture.

Check out our blog about Functionality vs Design, which has our fitout experts talk about the importance of both in a commercial space, and whether style and design take precedence over functionality. Check out the blog by clicking here.

Tim Adams Specialty Coffee, the brainchild of award-winning Australian barista Tim Adams, approached the Total Fitouts Sunshine Coast South team to create their Flagship store within Kawana Shopping World. The talented team were tasked with creating a natural space that reflects the company’s sustainable ethos & ethically responsible products. Collectivus, a key collaborator in designing the project, helped achieve the retail fitout's overall aesthetic, layout, and finishes.

Tim, the owner of the certified fair-trade coffee brand, famous for his ‘Giving Back Chapola Project, wanted to create an earthy, grounded hospitality fit out within a bright, bustling shopping centre.

Neglecting the Importance of Lighting

Lighting is an essential aspect of any hospitality fitout project. It can create ambience, highlight features, and enhance the overall experience for customers. Neglecting the importance of lighting can result in a space that is too bright, too dim, or poorly lit, which can affect the mood and atmosphere of the space.

Including ample lighting into a shop fitout is a crucial element that sets the mood, enhances the aesthetics, and influences the perception of the space. Properly designed and executed lighting can transform a restaurant fitout into an inviting and comfortable environment that encourages customers to relax, enjoy their meals, and socialise. Different lighting techniques, such as task lighting for functional areas like the bar or kitchen, accent lighting to highlight architectural features or artwork, and ambient lighting to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, all contribute to creating a memorable dining experience.

The right balance of lighting can enhance the restaurant’s interior design, evoke specific emotions, and create a cozy ambience for intimate dinners or provide well-lit areas for social gatherings. The importance of thoughtful lighting design cannot be overstated in a hospitality restaurant fitout.

Ignoring the Significance of Colour and Design

The colour and design of a commercial space can significantly impact the overall experience for customers, playing a vital role in creating a memorable and engaging environment for guests. Ignoring the significance of colour and design can result in an unappealing or uninviting space, which can turn customers away.

The selection of colours and design elements sets the overall tone and atmosphere of the space, leaving a lasting impression on patrons. Colours have the power to evoke specific emotions and can be used strategically to influence mood and behaviour.

What do different tones feel like in a hospitality space?

  • Warm tones – reds and oranges can create a sense of energy and excitement
  • Cool tones – blues and greens can promote relaxation

The design elements, including furniture, fixtures, and decor, contribute to the overall aesthetic appeal and functionality of the space. Thoughtful design considerations ensure optimal space utilisation, flow, and comfort for both guests and staff. The use of unique and visually striking design features can also serve as conversation starters and contribute to the branding and identity of the establishment.

Ultimately, the right combination of colour and design elements in a commercial hospitality fitout can enhance the dining experience, captivate guests, and differentiate the establishment from competitors.

When the demand for their Filipino cakes outgrew their home kitchen Angelli and her family knew it was time to make the leap into their own commercial kitchen and shop front, Tita's Cakes. The client's design brief was clear and simple - candy-coloured, eye-popping, bright purple ube and enticing green banana leaves. The colour was the inspiration for Rooty Hill's brightest new cake shop - Tita's Cakes. Step forward Natalie and Chris Lautier aka Total Fitouts Penrith who took this brief and created Angelli's dream commercial retail fitout.

Overlooking the Importance of Branding and Customer Experience

Branding and customer experience are essential aspects of any hospitality fitout project. Overlooking their importance can result in a space that does not reflect the brand or provide a positive experience for customers. It can negatively impact the business and its reputation.

Peter Zafis, Director of Total Fitouts Surry Hills and Parramatta says, “Branding and customer experience are of utmost importance in any hospitality fitout as they directly impact the success and longevity of the establishment. A well-defined brand identity helps to differentiate the business from competitors and attracts the target audience.”

“The fitout design should align with the brand’s:

  • Values
  • Personality
  • Overall aesthetic

Creating a cohesive and immersive experience for customers is essential for effective branding.”

Peter continues, “From the moment guests step into the venue, every aspect of the fitout should contribute to a positive customer experience. This includes elements such as the layout and flow of the space, the selection of furniture and fixtures, the use of lighting and colours, and even the music and scent. Attention to detail and consistency in branding throughout the fitout helps to build brand recognition and loyalty.”

By creating an exceptional customer experience, a hospitality fitout can generate positive word-of-mouth, encourage repeat business, and ultimately establish a strong presence in the market. The combination of effective branding and a remarkable customer experience in a hospitality fitout sets the stage for long-term success and a loyal customer base.

Poor Acoustics

Another common mistake many hospitality commercial fitouts make is not considering the impact of noise on guests’ experiences. Excessive noise levels can be a major source of discomfort and stress for guests and can have detrimental effects on the overall experience of guests and the functioning of the establishment.

Excessive noise, echoes, and reverberations can create an unpleasant and uncomfortable environment, making it difficult for guests to engage in conversations and enjoy their dining experience. The noise level can rise to a point where it becomes difficult for staff to communicate effectively, leading to miscommunications and delays in service.

Additionally, it can be a source of frustration for both guests and employees, leading to lower customer satisfaction and decreased productivity.

Addressing acoustic issues in a hospitality fitout through proper sound-absorbing materials, strategic placement of furniture and fixtures, and thoughtful acoustic design can significantly improve the overall ambiance, enhance communication, and ensure a more enjoyable experience for guests and staff alike.

Relocating to a more central location, Soi38 not only doubled its capacity but completed a transformation from street-style Thai to an all-star destination restaurant. The commercial hospitality fitout has a modern, fresh feeling when you walk through the door. Soi38 envisioned an elegant dining experience with luxury detailing which was able to come to life by the Total Fitouts Adelaide Central team, who did the commercial fitout and Walter Brooke as the Interior Designers.


Hire Professional Hospitality Fitout Services

One of the best ways to avoid common mistakes in hospitality fitout projects is to hire professional fitout services. Professional services have experience in the industry and can provide valuable insights and advice on the best way to proceed with the project. They can also help businesses avoid common mistakes and ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.

Total Fitouts collaborate with experienced architects, have in-house interior designers, and contractors who specialise in hospitality fitouts. Our expertise and knowledge will help navigate potential challenges and ensure your project’s success and desired outcome.

Lulu's Coffee & Japanese Kitchen, located in Urangan, Hervey Bay QLD, contacted Warren Thorpe and the Total Fitouts Wide Bay team to help them design and build their sushi meets coffee bar commercial hospitality fit out. Project Manager Annet Maurer said, "The owners wanted us to design and build a modern Japandi-style (Scandinavian with a touch of Japan) eatery experience within a traditional shopping centre setting. The deceptively large project included fitting out a fully functioning commercial kitchen, with refrigeration, storage, and workspaces, plus creating a fresh and modern bespoke front of house servery area with hand crafted wooden baton features and a linear cladded counter with solid wooden benchtop."

Plan and Prepare Including A Realistic Budget

Planning and preparation are essential to the success of any hospitality fitout project. Businesses should have a clear vision of the result and a detailed plan for achieving it. They should also have a contingency plan in case of any unexpected issues or delays.

Take the time to plan every aspect of the fitout, including space layout, equipment placement, furniture selection, and branding elements. Create a detailed timeline and budget to stay organised and on track.

This can also include establishing a realistic budget. It is essential to have a financial cushion to handle unforeseen issues or changes during the fitout process. Having a well-defined budget ensures that financial resources are allocated effectively and responsibly throughout the project. It helps to set realistic expectations and prioritise expenditures based on the project’s requirements and goals. Careful budgeting enables decision-making that aligns with the available funds, reducing the risk of overspending or compromising on essential aspects of the fitout.

Check out our blog which outlines how our in-house Interior Designers expertise can help you save money. Read it here.

Compliance with Regulations

Familiarise yourself with local regulations to ensure the safety, legality, and smooth operation of the establishment for your commercial fitout. Local regulations and codes exist to safeguard the well-being of guests, employees, and the surrounding community.

What sort of regulations should I be aware of?

  • Health and Safety regulations
  • Building codes
  • Fire Safety standards
  • Accessiblity requirements

The list goes on. If you want more information on what regulations you need to be aware of, visit this website here.

Adhering to these safety regulations creates a secure environment for everyone. Failure to comply with regulations can result in severe consequences, including fines, legal issues, or even closure of the commercial hospitality establishment.

By prioritising compliance from the early stages of a fitout project, you can create a safe, responsible, and sustainable hospitality environment that meets legal requirements and fosters a positive reputation.

Perth's premier iconic Japanese Bar. 

This stylish and sophisticated hospitality fit out, located in QV1 Plaza, George’s Terrace, Perth, WA, was brought to life by Stuart Organ and the Total Fitouts Perth team.

Owners of Nippon Bar and Kitchen, a Japanese-style Bar or Izakaya, wanted to create a "fun, rowdy place to drink the best of what Japan has to offer, along with delicious Japanese Tapas and, most importantly, a friendly, fun, comfortable, relaxing, unique place to hang out with your company."

Regular Communication

Maintain open and regular communication with all stakeholders involved in the fitout. Clear and consistent communication helps establish a strong working relationship, fosters trust, and enables a collaborative approach. Clear communication with stakeholders such as contractors, designers, suppliers, and staff ensures everyone is on the same page and minimises misunderstandings.

Regularly engaging with all stakeholders allows for a thorough understanding of the vision, requirements, and expectations. It provides an opportunity to address any concerns, clarify project details, and make informed decisions together.

Additionally, keeping the client informed about project progress, milestones, and any potential challenges helps manage expectations and maintain transparency throughout the process. By actively listening, seeking clarity, and promptly addressing client inquiries, effective communication ensures that the final result aligns with the vision and leads to a successful hospitality fitout that exceeds expectations.

Quality Materials and Paying Attention to Detail

Invest in high-quality materials and fixtures that can withstand the demands of a commercial hospitality environment. Durability and longevity are important to avoid premature wear and tear, reducing future maintenance costs.

Also conducting thorough testing of all systems, equipment, and functionality before the official opening allows for adjustments and fine-tuning to ensure everything operates smoothly. Total Fitouts is able to help with anything to do with functionality, systems and materials to ensure your hospitality fitout runs smoothly.

Make sure to focus on the finer details that contribute to the overall experience, such as lighting, acoustics, branding elements, and customer comfort. These small touches can have a significant impact on the success of the shop fitout.

This modern Italian pastry café, located at Golden Beach, on the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, was brought to life by the Total Fitouts Sunshine Coast South team. The popular business, famous for its mouth-watering cannoli, started as a simple hole in the wall, and then Covid hit. Despite the pandemic, customers were lining up from 4.30 am in the morning and the owners, Paolo and Giuliana, managed to grow their small Italian business into the successful, popular café, and dining experience it is today. 

Hospitality fitout projects can be a significant investment for any business owner in the hospitality industry. However, common mistakes can cost businesses time, money, and customers.

Businesses can hire professional fitout services, plan and prepare, regulate safety compliance, have regular communication and have quality materials to avoid these mistakes. With the right approach, a hospitality fitout project can succeed, providing a commercial space that meets the business’s and its customers’ needs.

With over 30 shopfitting teams across Australia and New Zealand, Total Fitouts can help businesses avoid common mistakes and create a space that meets their needs and customers’ needs. We can help you create a space that is easy to work in and appealing to customers.  Contact us today to learn more.