5 Steps to Success for Your Expanding Restaurant Group

Rebecca Rosenberg
February 6, 2020
Rebecca is a content & social media marketing strategist with expertise in the restaurant industry.

Your restaurant business is buzzing. Great reviews, excellent reputation, repeat customers. You’re living the dream! Maybe it’s time to scale your business and open a new location?

The leap from running a single restaurant to running two or more can be a make-or-break moment for restaurant owners. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by making these common mistakes when expanding your restaurant business. 

Instead, take steps to ensure your restaurant group’s success as you expand:

1. Know When the Time is Right

The best way to make your restaurant business successful is to know when the time is right for expansion. If you’re consistently busy and find it hard to manage the crowds, or you’ve become a destination that customers drive in from out of town for, it might be time to expand your empire

But besides these obvious signs, make sure you:

  • Have sufficient capital and a solid business plan specific to the new location(s)
  • Conduct thorough market research and know the demographics that the new location(s) will serve
  • Identify an ideal location and have a marketing plan in place to attract traffic

Successful restaurant owners don’t dive into an expansion without covering these key bases.

2. Maintain Company Culture and Values

The best way to maintain company culture as you grow is by hiring and promoting from within. After all, no one knows your brand better than your top managers, chefs, and servers. 

To maintain excellent levels of customer service and quality as you grow:

  • Recruit your best people to train and manage staff at your new location
  • Develop consistent training and onboarding procedures across all locations
  • Evaluate and optimize your operations procedures 

3. Match Your Menu to Your New Market

When you’re successful and expanding, you face a choice: duplicate the menu exactly or make some tweaks. The needs of your target market should be the top factor in this decision. For example:

  • Are you expanding into a business district where the majority of your sales will be at lunchtime? Work with your head chef to adapt signature dishes into grab-and-go lunch specials. 
  • Will your clientele include more families? Include family and kid-friendly dishes on the menu. 
  • Want to have some fun with specialty items? Collaborate with local vendors to offer craft beers or develop a menu item inspired by your new market’s most well-known dishes. 

Any adaptations should make sense for the particular demographic at your new location, which will be clear if you’ve conducted the right kind of market research. 

4. Provide Excellent Quality and Service 

If you think the hard part is over once you’ve opened the new location, think again! The death knell can quickly begin to ring as soon as people start talking. 

Have you tried so-and-so’s new location? It’s just not quite the same…

Yeah, the staff seems pretty green. They need to work out some bugs before I try it again. 

Don’t bother, stick with the original. 

The only way to get real-time insight into your locations’ performance is with feedback. As guests give feedback (such as via tableside tablets, comment cards or surveys) you can immediately pinpoint problem areas. Are you seeing a trend of servers being labeled as inexperienced or unknowledgeable? Food taking forever to reach the customer? Live feedback lets you see it right away, so you can:

  • Help staff members who need extra training or assistance
  • Spot overarching trends
  • Quickly identify top performers and recognize important team contributions

5. Watch Your Social Media Reputation

We all know a bad review can set a terrible precedent for any restaurant. And a pattern of bad reviews can send a brand into oblivion. So, don’t neglect your social media reputation! 

Collecting and monitoring reviews from sites like Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp and Facebook is one way to quickly spot problems or wins at each location. Beyond monitoring bad reviews, though, you can take an active role in building your social presence in a positive way: 

  • Reach out to local influencers to highlight and bring awareness to your new location
  • Throw an opening party. Share the event details on social media and encourage guests to do the same
  • Devise an engagement campaign such as a contest or giveaway to create buzz about your new location

You can’t just assume your new location will succeed based on the original’s success - you need to keep your finger on your reputation with the right tools.

There are many factors that go into making your restaurant business successful, but with the right preparation, planning, staff, and systems, the sky’s the limit for you. 

Want to learn more about what successful restaurant groups have in common and how they're consistently improving their guest experience? Let’s chat.