Avoid Pitfalls of Restaurant Expansion by Planning in Advance

Maybe you already have multiple units and you’re embarking into multi-city. Or maybe, in addition to multi-city, you’re adding a second concept.

Either way, if you want to sleep better, plan and organize and import knowledge from the best restaurant companies in America – and do that work in advance, not after you open all those restaurants.


The Hardest Thing You Will Ever Do

“Going from one to two? The hardest thing you’ll ever do!” I hear that message coming out of my mouth often – typically to an operator beginning their journey who hopes to work with me someday or who wants to join my Restaurant Owners Success Club of multi-unit owners.  

Running one restaurant lets the owner be there all the time, but the laws of physics say you can’t be in more than one of your restaurants at the same time.

Actually, running multiple units actually may not be the hardest thing; it might be harder to run a second concept.

A second concept brings on a whole new way of thinking – because you have to be able to pivot to the concept you work in at a particular moment, the special approach its guests and employees need, and the differentiated branding, culture, and marketing.

Employees you moved from one concept to another might not fit.

Just being yourself won’t work. You must be what the concept you are working on in this minute needs. Remembering that and pivoting leads to success.

When you start to operate in more than one city, you must do what my “codifying ownership” process provides: have people and systems in place that mirror what you personally provide and contribute.

If not, your influence will be diluted. You may be home with a panic attack as you watch the cameras from your restaurant 300 miles away.

Make It Easy on Yourself

My clients work with me to protect their company during growth spurts through my Roadmap process, which becomes a guide to avoiding pitfalls.

If you go multi-unit, multi-city, or multi-concept (some go all three) without appropriate organization, the likelihood of underperforming (or even failure) will increase, and significant money will leak out of your company unseen.  

Your P&L does not have an expense item called “missed opportunity,” so you may not be able to see that. I do.

I have clients with concepts that literally have nothing to do with each other: breakfast places and a kids’ theme restaurant, or a high-end Mexican restaurant and a burger joint. Their ability to pivot is critical to success.

Others have restaurants 1,000 miles away from their office.

I focus on constant improvement; they do too.  

What does your stretch in multi-unit, multi-concept, and/or multi-city operations look like? And how have you protected yourself from the pitfalls of operating this way?

Matthew rachel's guide to pushing through expansion barriers.

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