Don’t Repeat the Biggest Mistake Made by Multi-Concept Restaurant Operators

The best way to run your second (or third of fourth) concept?

Not the way you ran your first.

The number one thing restaurateurs get wrong when operating multiple concepts?

They superimpose their original concept’s corporate team onto their new one – when maximizing the success of each requires unique leadership, culture, and attitude.

It’s as if your team is good at driving a fleet of dependable SUVs and then, one day, you suddenly expect them to win races driving the finest sports cars.

When you do that, you get the worst of both worlds.

Old operating technique does not necessarily lend itself to new concepts.

Dependable results at original brands are harder to attain when the team can’t stretch to cover both effectively.

When Your Creativity Makes It Worthwhile

I advocate sticking to one successful concept, to not get diverted from what already works.

We all know that operating multiple units is easier than operating multiple concepts.

I think easier is better.

I also know that some of my clients have such incredible ideas for additional concepts – some of which end up dwarfing their original success – that the right thing to do is break the rule and launch something totally new.

Twisted Root has Truck Yard

La Calle Doce has El Ranchito

Jim’s has Magic Time Machine

Brand Managers – the #1 Key to Success

Not everyone claims to be Lettuce Entertain You or Front Burner.

In fact, almost no one does; we really admire those companies.

So the operators I work with – owners of successful multi-unit, independent restaurant groups, who go from one concept to two or more – must learn to do this effectively.

When, for example, a restaurateur has a full-service brand and decides to open a fast casual – or when a fast casual restaurateur goes into the high-volume beverage business – this calls for a smart phone, not a flip phone.

The best leader for each concept must have a different skill set, and have a track record of success with different employees and different guests.

Multi-concept works great for my clients when each brand type has its own leader, like a brand manager in a consumer products company.

Selecting a specific brand manager for a brand gives it the right leadership.

Each concept gets viewed through its own lens, and each receives the vision it deserves.

An additional benefit? You hedge your bets with senior management and protect yourself from your whole company imploding – a solid piece of risk management.

Over to you. Are you in the multi-concept business or planning to enter it? How will you set up your leaders as individual brand managers to ensure success and protect what you have now?