What Successful Restaurant Growth Looks Like Now

In your heart, you know when your restaurants could be better. 

And right now, I’m seeing a ton of opportunity for improvement out there.

In the past few weeks, I have sat in restaurants where I felt warmly welcomed, checked on, and delighted – where I had fun and was thanked sincerely. 

I’ve been to others where the décor gave me no clue about the concept; where the food and the food photography on the menu did not match; and where no one smiled.  

The differences in the experiences are dramatic and obvious.

Guests choose based on where they have the best experience.

What can you do to compel them to choose yours more often?  

Growth Means More Than Unit Growth

Every emerging successful, independent multi-unit restaurant company – like the ones I work with – has a forecast related to future unit growth.

The future values of their companies are driven by math: a multiple of unit net operating income times a multiple. 

There is another way to get there.

Elevate valuation now by turning to another aspect of growth, focusing on better revenue and profit from existing units.  

Why? Because today we live in a guest count business. 

Market demand remains inelastic, and, for most, the inventory of quality real estate looks less than expected when they first built those breathtaking forecasts for 2024.

They realize that future units – when they eventually build (and open) them, the ones that boast higher AUVs and net operating income as a result of the work they do on their existing locations – will lead to exceeding current forecasts of net worth!

So make the model work better. 

How Do We Do That?

  • Ensure that culture lives and is measured every day at every unit, on every shift, and for every table.
  • Elevate management technique to focus first on guest experience.
  • Inspire employees by using new approaches and language that appeals to today’s workforce. 
  • Set records in employee retention – because long-term employees in all departments give guests better experiences.   
  • Compare guests’ brand perception with internal brand assumptions to guide messaging and marketing.
  • Understand competition and how to provide guests with compelling reasons for you to lead your segment.

All these efforts create increased revenue and profit. That’s where you find that 5% lift I always talk about. 

And those extra two points on the bottom line? While they may come from eight different quarter points, those still count. 

Our guests’ dining budgets are limited, and they’re eating in restaurants less often.

But there’s good news for my clients who cater to middle and upper demographics: When people go out, they still pay for great experiences, because they feel they deserve that. 

Expanding the market right now is over your pay grade, so you must grab a bigger share of the existing market. 

In 2024, winners think this way. Where do you start?

Matthew rachel's guide to pushing through expansion barriers.

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