If your restaurant is tracking well financially, then you may be contemplating expanding your business to new locations or venues. The prospect of restaurant expansion is always incredibly exciting, but the reality of expansion always comes with hard work. There are a myriad of operation-based factors which any business owner must keep in mind before taking the plunge. Here are some of the most important:
Mobile or physical restaurant expansion?
The first consideration is how you want to expand. Restaurants these days typically come in two forms: traditional dine-in establishments and mobile spaces. Your business may have been mobile to begin with (such as food trucks and trailers, and pop-up restaurants) with an eye to opening a brick-and-mortar location later on. Or you may already have a dine-in location, with the intention of replicating your successful eatery model when you expand.
Where you decide to open your new restaurant is very important. Many experts recommend that you expand locally and concentrically; that means choosing a nearby town or city – to expand into before going further afield. Expanding to more than two locations at once requires serious thought (the third restaurant, some say, can spell the death of the first one).
Investigate your funding options
Very few restaurant owners can expand without taking on a business loan. You’ll want a short-term loan to start, with a contract lasting between 3 months and 1.5 years – but the terms of repayment can differ substantially across different banks. Get a quote for each, and carefully compare the terms and conditions to choose the best for your financial plan.
Loans aren’t the only way to finance an expansion. The business world has seen an increase in crowd-funded campaigns, in which you can get amateur investors on board to contribute to your company. If you already have a strong, intimate customer base, you may find more success in finding investors for more risky expansion ventures.
Alter your business plan
Thus far, you’ve headed a single business, with all your operations taking place in the one space. When you expand, everything changes. Resources are spread across multiple restaurants, and you must manage different employee teams.
What this means is that business expansion requires you to spread yourself thinner, and to think practically about the management hierarchies that you put into place at each venue. Employing a strong team of staff in your new location is critical to the success of the expansion.
Leverage social media and branding
Attracting and keeping new customers is vital to the longevity of your expanded business. This is where social media comes in: a well-curated Facebook or Instagram page can do wonders for your business, especially if you use such social media platforms to offer exclusive discounts, promotions, and restaurant-wide events targeted to particular demographics.
Strengthen your brand
Successful restaurant expansion means ensuring brand consistency across your various locations. People need to know that if they dine at your restaurant in one city, they’ll get the same menu and service at another of your storefronts. Loyalty schemes are a great way to ensure this kind of customer loyalty, but you also need to ensure consistency with service, aesthetics and décor. For example, buying wholesale hospitality furniture is a good way to ensure consistency within the interior design of your new restaurants.