My brother from Seattle, visiting me in Dallas, once asked me, “Does anyone in Dallas ever open a restaurant that is not a prototype for expansion?” He was being a little critical, a little incredulous, and also, I think, just really wanted to eat at a restaurant where someone had poured their heart into the present and did not have aspirations of scalability.
How Entrepreneurs Behave
For the owners of independent restaurant companies with whom I work, the entrepreneurial spirit is in their blood, and growth is on their minds. They always want to do more; they get excited by growth; and they may have a certain goal of number of units, cash flow, or net worth in mind. Certainly my clients, who have seven figures of profit, would not be satisfied with one restaurant. I have been working with different clients who plan to go from four to 10 units, from 10 to 20 units, and from 20 to 30 units.
As I said, they’re natural entrepreneurs.
As entrepreneurs, they want to grow to take advantage of opportunity, to establish a brand that has value, to build wealth, to serve guests with the unique formula they spend their days perfecting, and also to create opportunities for their key employees — all of whom have career aspirations and will leave if their aspirations cannot be fulfilled. More and more, I see them placing an emphasis on enjoying themselves while they are doing this.
Be Prepared for Growth
Growth is inherent in the nature of independent restaurant company owners, but it can also be their downfall. We have all seen people who grew their business without being prepared properly, and lost everything.
In my research I have isolated the top four things you must do to mitigate risks before you are truly ready to grow your company. To protect yourself, your brand, your employees, and your business — please handle them before you sign those leases.
Top 4 Keys to Restaurant Growth
- Create management competency to handle the additional units before you build them in a way that is not overly reliant on ownership.
- Build a relationship with your guests through your culture and concept that no one else will duplicate.
- Systemize operations so it is easy to confirm consistency and success without turning your organization into an accounting, office, dashboard, or spreadsheet company. Always be a restaurant company.
- Truly understand your guest and where you can find more people like them.