You’ve been in business for a while, and you’re ready to take the plunge for a second (or third, or fourth) time. Follow these five tips for a smooth opening.
Determining where your next location will be is one of the most important parts of growing your
business. Just because you have been successful at one location, it doesn’t always mean you
will find the same success in another area. Treat each location you open like a brand new
business, with the same energy and enthusiasm you had for your very first opening.
Just like when you decided on your first location, you will need to do research on each potential area or neighborhood to assess the needs of the community, existing competition, complementary businesses, local support (including from the municipality where you are thinking of opening), and labor pool. You will also want to assess if specific locations are easily accessible from mass transit and if there is desirable parking and foot traffic in that area.
As you get closer to signing a lease, you will want to walk through your location with your contractor, and it also pays to contact someone in the zoning and health departments in your city to troubleshoot any potential issues before you are too far along to turn back.
When you open a second or third location, it can be tempting to go for a new design, to update
the look of your concept. Be careful about this. Some improvement and updating can be a good
thing, but it’s important to be consistent and cohesive from one location to the next so that
guests get the same feeling in each place. Your square footage and layout may be slightly
different, but the overall decor and vibe should feel similar. If you are updating the look at a
second or third location, consider doing some renovations on the existing space at the same
time to maintain that consistency.
Get on the Training Train
You start the training process for your subsequent locations with a huge advantage — you’ve done this before. Use your resources to train consistently across multiple locations, and hire and promote from within.
It can be frustrating to know when to hire new staff when you are waiting on a location to open. By having an existing location open, you have a training ground at your fingertips, and you have the staff you need to make sure new hires are brought on learning from the best.
Consider sending some of your seasoned staff to your new locations to help open and train. Check in with them regularly to assess any bottlenecks in service or other issues with your opening logistics. This will help build company culture that spans throughout all of your locations.
Connect the Teams
In addition to hiring and training from within, it can be beneficial to bring teams from each location together from time to time to review issues. Schedule quarterly all-team meetings in one central location so that your staff has the opportunity to learn from one another. Often a team at one location may adopt policies out of habit that could be beneficial for everyone to learn. By sharing knowledge with your entire organization, you can identify those opportunities and include them in future training materials.
Let the World Know
It can be overwhelming to be running a business and opening additional locations, and often
marketing and public relations are the first things to suffer. Use your existing resources to let your networks, including press, know about your plans for other locations. Table tents and check messaging are great tools for guests in your restaurant. Obviously, social media and e-newsletters are good resources for sharing as well.
As you approach your opening, send out a release and invite press and influencers to sample the menu and check out the space to help you spread the word to the public. Just like any press/influencer event, make sure to send invitations (digital is fine), send reminders, provide talking points for staff, send your guests home with marketing materials, and, if possible, some brand new swag.