Now that your restaurant is doing really well, you are probably anxious to capitalize on that success to help your business grow. New locations and possible franchise deals are probably the first ideas that come to mind, and they are important, but there are also other paths to expansion that may not require as much money.

Keep your mind open to a lot of creative possibilities and find the strategies that will work best for you. Here are 9 smart tips for restaurant expansion:

1. Go to the Experts First

To make sure you are headed in the right direction with your expansion strategies, you should get the advice of those who have been in the restaurant business a lot longer than you have. By surrounding yourself with leading experts in the restaurant industry, you will get the support and advice you need to grow your restaurant. Restaurant associations are a good place to start.

2. Expand Your Menu

A simple way to expand your business is to expand your menu. By adding new items that attract new customer markets, you can easily double your clientele with just a little effort and ingenuity. For example, adding a couple of fresh vegan dishes to your menu could really diversity your customer population.

3. Innovate, Innovate, Innovate

Innovation in food, technology, restaurant design and customer service can all help put your personal stamp on your restaurant.

4. Add a food truck

One smart way to expand without the expense and hassle of opening up a new location is to buy or rent a food truck. You can take some of your specialty dishes out on the road to meet new people and get the word out more on your restaurant. Your food truck can be taken to outdoor festivals and set up at local college campuses and shopping malls. As the popularity of your food truck grows, you will start to see more customers show up at your restaurant as well. The possibilities are endless.

5. Make Connections in the Business World

When you partner with another business for an event or a promotion, not only can you share resources, but you also get a chance to reach out to new potential customers. For example, if you are a vegan restaurant then you might want to partner with your local gym or fitness club. Or if you have a bar, maybe collaborate with a local brewery. By combining forces, you will be able to do so much more.

6. Focus on what makes you unique

If sustainability is really important to you, then make it a platform for your restaurant. If you pride yourself on providing everything farm to table, then emphasize that in your marketing and social outreach. Focus on what makes you unique and you will draw in people who share similar values.

7. Make good food a priority

While it is a no-brainer that for your restaurant to be successful, you need to have great food, sometimes quality can fly out the window when you are trying to stay within a budget or rushing food out of the kitchen. Always be in the kitchen experimenting with ingredients to get your dishes to as close as perfect as possible. And don’t forget to try new dishes as well. You want to keep tantalizing your customers’ taste buds.

8. Expand to Other Locations

One of the most recognizable signs of growth is opening up new locations. Before you do this though, make sure your restaurant’s success is not dependent on the location or specific customer base or one particular person’s talents. New locations will only work if you can completely duplicate the success you had at the first location.

There are a lot of different factors that go into whether or not it is a sound business decision to open up a second location so you need to think about it carefully. Your restaurant may be doing well, but is it doing well enough to support the opening of a second location? That is the most important question to ask. The growth markers you should be looking for include more customers than your location can handle, a really strong cash flow and you are consistently running out of inventory or don’t have enough staff or space to handle the amount of business you have coming in the door.

If this is what you are experiencing, then it is probably a good time to consider opening up a new location. If business is good, but you still have the space to grow more where you are, then you might want to wait to expand.

In addition, you want the second location to help grow your restaurant not hurt it so you need to make sure you have enough resources to have two successful locations. Make sure you have stable leadership and strong money flow in the first location before you start focusing all your energy into a new location. You don’t want the first location to be hurt in any

9. Develop a Franchise Program

If you’d like to take a more hands-off approach to your new locations, you may want to consider developing a franchise program. This way you won’t have to worry about the daily operations of the new locations. You will just be providing support to the new owner while they pay you for the privilege of using your brand power.

Keep in mind though that not all business concepts are conducive to franchising. It is not enough to have a profitable bottom line. You need to offer familiar products in a unique way. For example, a burger restaurant who only uses organic, grass-fed beef. If a concept is too different, it might be harder to replicate on a large scale and it might not generate enough interest for multiple units. It needs to be a model that your franchisees can easily follow and have similar success with. Sometimes being too unique can be bad for business.

Also remember that not everyone is equipped with the right personality to be a franchisor. It definitely requires a different skill set then what makes a good individual business owner. As an owner of an individual business, you probably have your hand in every aspect of daily operations. Each day is filled with new challenges as you interact with customers and staff as you focus on delivering the perfect product. As a franchisor, you will be taking more of a backseat when it comes to daily operations of your stores. Instead you will be focused on selling franchises and providing a strong support network for your franchisees. If you are more of a hands-on type of person, this switch in roles might drive you crazy, especially if you like to have control in every aspect of your restaurant.
There is a lot that goes into deciding how to best expand your restaurant. For expert guidance, call MBB Management today.