Should You Open A Second Restaurant Location?
You came up with a great restaurant concept, found your customers, made a niche for yourself in the local business community, and have been doing well for a while. As a business grows, you’ve begun to think about expanding your services—maybe even opening a second location to handle the influx of interest that’s lately crossed your door.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to do some self-assessment and see if your business is ready to handle the financial responsibility, customer relationships, and peak times of two separate venues at once.
Ready for Anything?
Your funds, customers, and own well of potential will determine if you’re ready to open a second location. You shouldn’t take on such a big step if you’re not completely prepared for the extra work that entails. Consider these factors before taking the plunge:
Where do your best customers live, work, and play? Do they travel to eat with you now, or is their favorite restaurant already right around the corner? It might not make sense to open a shop somewhere very far from all your current regulars if you’re not sure you can stimulate the locals to visit in a new neighborhood. Capacity at your current location might bar you from letting in all your eager fans, however, in which case a secondary location would make sense. Think about your target audience’s needs before making a significant decision that ultimately relies on their loyalty.
Test the Waters
Consider expanding your current options first; offer more choices on your menu or test out the concept for your new location. Let your recent operation test out experiential ideas, so you know if they’ll be lucrative. Get a feel for what your best customers think; if you’ve never encouraged reviews before, take the time to ask your regulars about their experiences and find out what they like and dislike about new menu items, theme nights, and more. Use your existing base to gauge if experiential concepts will go over well at a second store.
When it comes to finding somewhere to build your new endeavor, don’t settle. Find a place that meshes with your intended audience but don’t neglect to meet your own needs for parking, foot traffic, and whatever other deal-breakers you had the first time you found somewhere to open a business. This decision is too important for compromise.
Do you have the money you need to start such a big project? Don’t dive into anything before you have money saved up, investors on board, or partners to open up your new location with. Sufficient funds shouldn’t be the only reason you start a new venue, though: Make your first operation as efficient as possible first to ease the transition and take some of the burden off. Fewer worries mean you can spend more time optimizing the new store’s productivity.
A Stellar Team
Your restaurant’s staff is what ties the whole operation together. From the front of house employees mingling with customers to back of house cooks keeping everything moving, your business can’t grow if your staff isn’t a cohesive, single-minded unit. The industry has famously high turnover rates that cost a lot of time and money; you can’t be worrying about recruitment or training when you’re trying to start another restaurant. Invest in turning your team into a well-oiled machine, and they’ll help your new location rise to greatness.
Give It Time
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Remember all the hard work that went into opening your restaurant the first time? You’re going to have to do it all over again now, but thankfully you have experience and an outstanding team to back you up. Invest real effort into making your new location a success by taking the time to check off everything else on this list. You’ll be relieved later when you’re on the ground learning to juggle two businesses, and things run just a little bit smoother. Plan ahead; take off some of the load.
Opening a new location is a thrilling, tumultuous, and stressful time—but ultimately rewarding when you see your new venue chugging smoothly along with the first. If you’re ready for the financial and physical strain of a second location, take the plunge and set off on a new venture the right way, smart and prepared for anything.
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