Three Roadblocks on Your Way to 10 Restaurants

My clients’ DNA must be filled with a longing for growth.

At best, this growth adheres to a plan.

At worst, owners act like hungry, unruly, science-fiction monsters who can never be satisfied, and grow haphazardly because of it.

All of the best restaurateurs I work with – owners of successful multi-unit organizations – focus and engage in accelerating or throttling growth at different times in their careers.

That’s how they grow consistently (and healthily) to 10 units and beyond.

Reflecting on almost three decades of advising these groups, I clearly see three main roadblocks that must be removed to get to double digits.

Once those are removed, life gets easier.

An easier life is something I create for all my clients.

1. You have not changed the way you lead.

You started by doing the hard work yourself and, since that led to your current success, you’ve never stopped to re-evaluate that approach.

But that kind of re-evaluation and personal reinvention comprises the only way to get on the path to 10 or more units – call it a “restaurant owner makeover.”

Simple math dictates this: Every time you add a unit, there’s less of you to go around.

Instead of forcing yourself to do all that hard work over and over, you must learn to codify your own activities so others do them the way you would.

Doing so creates guardrails on the road: systems and procedures that keep everything – culture, operations, and cost management – as good or better than when you did them all yourself.

2. Infrastructure has not kept pace with your restaurants.

Many restaurateurs feel that their best investments take place in their actual units, where they can delight their guests.

The truth? Investments in infrastructure – such as the corporate team, software, communication, and systems – create the greatest ROI.

The best restaurateurs build infrastructure to protect what they have already created and become a launching platform for their next growth spurt.

Top restaurateurs have sharp enough vision to see the hidden costs of the money that leaks out when companies cut corners on infrastructure.

3. You have no strategy.

Strategy takes you from where you exist to where you want to go.

Unfortunately, most owners can’t articulate their strategy (if they even have one).

Worse, some owners think they have a strategy but, when they explain it to me, all they really have is a list of tasks, duties, and things that worked in the past.

The best restaurateurs are bombarded with potential deals for new units – especially now that real estate, faced with the decline of retail, expects more and more of its ground-floor revenue to come from restaurants.

Evaluating real estate deals does not add up to a strategy. It adds up to a random business.

Having a strategy, within which you can evaluate real estate deals, supports the smartest and most successful restaurateurs I work with.
With these three roadblocks out of your way, phenomenally successful (and smoother) growth occurs.

Over to you. If you notice it gets harder and harder to get to double digits in units, which roadblock must you remove to make this happen?